Bay Area Vinyl Hop: Groove Yard

Mika Anami

<Rick's Record Picks>

Winter In America by Gil Scott-Heron (1974)
Two of my picks are records I actually used to distribute. One is a Gil Scott-Heron record, it was on Strata-East Records: Winter in America. It was a record I distributed and it came out in 1974—it was actually my best selling record. I sold approximately 15,000 copies. Strata-East was an artist cooperative label out of New York. The concept was that it would be an artist owned and controlled company. Artists would finance the recording and production of the record, they paid the musicians, do the manufacturing, and then it would be issued on the Strata-East label with a catalog number and the logo. The label marketed and distributed to the Strata-East network and distributors around the country, of which they had a hand-full: one in New york, one in D.C., one in L.A., I was the Bay Area, and I think there was someone in Chicago, too. This is the original one from 1974.

I took great pride in this record. I really worked it—even got it played on AM radio—I was taking it to radio stations and doing all of that stuff. I actually ended up getting Southern California, too. They weren't happy with their L.A. distributor.

Winds Of Change by Jothan Callins & The Sounds of Togetherness (1975)
The next record is Jothan Callins, a trumpet player from New York. It was a record he put out himself, and it was a label named Triumph. It's what they now call a "private press” record: it’s musician-issued. I used to distribute a lot of labels like that—records that Betty Carter put out, Cecil Taylor, and Coltrane's last drummer: Rashied Ali—basically the Strata-East label was like that: private pressings.

I used to distribute this record, and I just got it in a few days ago. It is a good record with good musicians on it.

―― So you mean, someone sold it back to you just recently?
Yeah. As far as I know, it is the only issue, because I got it directly from Jothan Callins, and he didn't do another record.

The Latin Soul Of Johnny Zamot And His Latinos by Johnny Zamot And His Latinos
The last one I pulled out is a Latin record that I just got. It's actually a little bit different for a Latin record, because most of the Latin stuff I see came out on Latin labels, and this record actually came out on Decca. I didn't really know of this guy until I got this record in, and it's got a cover that a non-Latin label will do. It's not cheesy but it's kind of corny! [Chuckles.] It's what they refer to as a Latin boogaloo album.

Stay tuned for more Bay Area record shop interviews!

Groove Yard

Groove Yard
5555 Claremont Ave, Oakland, CA 94618
Hours: 11am-6pm daily, Sundays: 12pm-5pm
Tel: (510) 655-8400 USA
Yelp page:

Interview and article by Mika Anami
Photographs by Rieko Fujii

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