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RIP Big Man

We are saddened by the death of our dear friend, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, who passed away on Monday at the age of 80.
Elbert was an inspiration to us. He worked tirelessly to make our world more fair, equal and just. On a personal level, he was a calming influence.
There was one occasion, after a rant by me about how fucked up things were in the world, he advised me, “Take care of the stuff that you can control. Make sure that you have your house in order. Then help your friends, family and your community try to keep things together. You can only to do what you can do.”
Big Man did what he could do, and then some. The world is a better place because of this gentle, music loving giant.
Here’s some more about Big Man from some guys that really know how to write:
Gabe Meline
Chris Smith

Still Vinyl After All These Years + Doug’s Top Ten of 2016

We opened our store in 1983 selling vinyl records and cassette tapes.
By 1993, the retail music landscape had dramatically changed, and most folks dumped their vinyl in favor of the compact disc.
Our store on 4th Street was running out of space, so we did something nutty:
we opened a 2nd store right across the street, and moved all of our vinyl there.
Bearded Hipster at Last Record Store “Records” ~ 1993

We weren’t sure what was going to happen to the vinyl LP.
In 1999, those snotty little twerps started Napster, and even CD sales tanked.
The Aughts were tough! We were evicted from Downtown 4th St by our landlord.
Fortunately, the angels from Community Market offered us the nice space we are in now.
Our move to Mendocino Ave. was a challenge. Two years in a row, they shut down lanes of traffic for sewer repairs.
No one, it seemed wanted to deal with the clusterf*ck of Mendocino Ave.
I was always surprised to hear that many folks thought we had gone out of business in 2003, when we had only moved 1.6 miles away.
It was great being near the Junior College, but many of the students would browse and not buy; some while listening to mp3’s on their iPods.
Around this time, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld convinced President Alfred E. Newman to bomb Iraq for knocking down the twin towers.
Life was weird.
Our vinyl section had shrunk to one modest row, about 20% of our inventory. In 2007, we noticed an uptick in vinyl sales and interest.
By 2010, the vinyl craze was catching on, and we also had an awesome President.
I am so going to miss the Obamas….
Now vinyl is once again King, but folks still dig the CD.
unnamed We sell some entry-level turntables that will get you started.
If you are serious about records, we really recommend investing in some Hi-Fi gear.
Back in my day, we are always saving up to get better speakers, new cartridge, sweet power amplifier. It’s fun!
People have debated since we opened in ’83: which sounds better, LP or CD?
My opinion is that if you have a great sound system, records are better.
If you are listening in your car, CD’s are better.
Records are more fun to listen to, and browse through than CD’s.
Don’t get me started about the artwork on an LP vs. the artwork on a CD.
Thank you.

Recently, I compiled my top ten list of albums that came out in 2016. Keep in mind that this is the list of a 62 year old coot.
If you want a list of cool albums, picked by younger, in-the-know people, talk to Gerry, Josh, Ethan & Midori at the shop.
And of course there is Hoyt, my business partner of 34 years, who often has a musical opinion to share.

unnamed-2 ARTIST: Bonnie Raitt
ALBUM: Dig in Deep (released in February)
Bonnie took some time off between albums. She dealt with personal loss, and came back strong with Dig In Deep, featuring the great Jon Cleary on keyboards. When Bonnie Raitt has it going on, there’s no one better.

unnamed-3 ARTIST: Iggy Pop
ALBUM: Post Pop Depression {released in March)
Produced by the dude from Queens of the Stone Age, Josh Homme. 8 new songs, much of the recording done over two weeks in Joshua Tree with QOTSA members and the drummer from Arctic Monkeys. Check out “Gardenia”, GREAT song.

unnamed-4 ARTIST: Sturgill Simpson
ALBUM: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (released in April)
Sturgill’s 3rd album and he has moved forward as an artist. While his first 2 albums were good in a Waylon Jennings sort of way, this new album is beautiful in ways I can’t really describe. It sounds fresh and unique every time I play it.

unnamed-5 ARTIST: Mudcrutch
ALBUM: 2 (released in May)
This album seemed to come out at the right time. Tom Petty making another album with the band he played with as a teen in Florida.
He certainly doesn’t save his great songs for The Heartbreakers; check out “Trailer”. A classic .

unnamed-6 ARTIST: Sarah Jarosz
ALBUM: Undercurrent (released in June)
Sarah Jarosz hits her stride on her 4th album. She is 25, and musically comparable to Gillian Welch. Check out “House of Mercy.”

unnamed-7 ARTIST: Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle
ALBUM: Colvin & Earle (released in June)
I’m a huge Steve Earle fan, and a moderate Shawn Colvin fan, so I was thrilled that this album is so good. 10 songs, 5 covers, 5 originals that they wrote together. Listen to “You Were On My Mind”.

unnamed-8 ARTIST: Allen Toussaint (released in June)
ALBUM: American Tunes
Allen was working on this album with producer Joe Henry when he died unexpectedly in November of 2015. It’s a tribute to great American composers: Ellington, Professor Longhair, Fats Waller, Paul Simon. Allen was a treasure. If you have time, there is a great podcast here:
Thank you, NPR.

unnamed-9 ARTIST: Drive-By Truckers
ALBUM: American Band (released in September)
On their 11th studio album, DBT goes political. The writing is really good. Check out “Once They Banned Imagine”.
Yeah, that happened.

unnamed-10 ARTIST: The Devil Makes Three
ALBUM: Redemption & Ruin (released in September)
A concept album: 5 songs of Ruin (drinking, drugs, good stuff) followed by 5 songs of Redemption (death, God, Tom Waits)
I love this band.


unnamed-11ARTIST: Leonard Cohen
ALBUM: You Want It Darker released October 21, 2016
I am so glad that my wife made me take her to see Leonard Cohen in concert. He toured like a kid with a crazy dream from 2008-2013.
He put out albums of new songs in 2012 and 2014, and completed the trilogy in October with You Want It Darker.
I still have hard time saying, “The late, great Leonard Cohen”.

Just in time for the Holidays: Holiday Connections 2016 the CD
19 songs by mostly local artists:
1) Dirty Cello : Merry Christmas Baby
2) Maurice Tani & Pam Brandon : Baby It’s Cold Outside
3) Wendy Dewitt & Kirk Harwood : Train Full of Joy
4) Audrey Auld : Santa Spend Xmas With Me
5) Doug Adamz : Christmas Candy
6) Jennifer Goudeau and Jan Martinelli : The Christmas Song
7) Nate Lopez : Carol of the Bells
8) Nell Robinson : Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem
9) The Sorentinos : Beatnik Christmas
10) Dave Monterey : Christmas Child
11) Terry Keady : Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
12) Kathy Kallick : Snowflakes
13) Geoff Muldaur : At The Christmas Ball
14) Solid Air : Tiny Reindeer
15) Jaydub & Dino : On Christmas Morning
16) Mr. Music : Santa Claus Rocks
17) David Thom : The First Noel
18) Sara Warne : When Santa Claus Met Jesus
19) Doug Jayne : What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

on sale now for $9.99
Please buy one.


See you on the Avenue,


We Celebrate 33+1/3 Years in Business

Thirty-Three-and-a-Third Years ago, we opened our modest shop in Downtown Santa Rosa.

We spent the first 20 years around the corner from Anarchy Alley, across from the Library, and sandwiched between Sawyers News and Stanroy Music.
We sold LP’s and cassettes, as CD’s were not a thing yet. We ordered records over the phone until I realized I could walk to the copy shop and “fax” them in.
We had competition in Sonoma County: multiple Wherehouse stores, a Record Factory, Rainbow Records among the chains.
Backdoor, Music Coop, and Pres among the independents.
MTV was a huge thing (they played music videos) and helped sell records like these:
unnamed unnamed unnamed-1  oh, 1983….
CD’s squeezed the cassettes out, and vinyl records sold so poorly, that we opened a 2nd store across the street at 802 4th St.
That location was like putting vinyl in hospice care, giving them some dignity until they died.
In 2003, we were unceremoniously kicked out of downtown, but had the good fortune to hook up with Santa Rosa Community Market who subleases the current space to us.
Business was shitty at first. Downloading was hurting us, and those rat-bastard, fuck-heads* at Best Buys were selling CD’s below cost.
In 2007, a miracle happened: Vinyl records started selling again! They have increased (by a lot!) every year since then. CD sales are up too.
It’s like people decided owning music that you can hold in your hand was cool again.
So, as we look back at 331/3 years of selling music, we have to thank all of our friends and family that have worked here over the years.
A special shout-out to our customers: Being around people everyday that love music as much as you do, is a rare privilege.
2028 is just a few years away; let’s hope for 45!

Shake the Blues!

STB old address l_r one sheet 300ppi


I’m excited for my friend, John Knutson who has just released his debut CD,

Shake the Blues.
The recording, done in Sebastopol, CA at Studio E, is first class; warm and spacious.
John is joined by David Grisman on mandolin and Bill Fouty on stand-up bass. They sound like they’ve been playing together for years. Tight, yet loose; ragged but right.
The CD packaging is marvelous, bringing to mind Grisman’s “Tone Poem” albums; colorful pictures of hand-made instruments with cool written introductions to the songs (using nice readable fonts!)
It’s an acoustic journey through the soundscape of blues, jazz, and Americana.
Thirteen of John Knutson’s original songs played on six of his hand crafted Knutson Luthiery instruments.

Thumbs Up!

Here’s a review



Shake the Blues

Shake the Blues

Shake the Blues
by Huckle
(aka Simon Kurth)
from Sonoma County Folk Society’s
Folk Notes
Amazing record!
John is not only the singer,songwriter,guitarist, and harp player for this record, he also
built many of the instruments that are played on it.
His thirteen original compositions span forty-five years, and are firmly rooted in acoustic blues, jazz, and Americana.
David Grisman’s down and dirty, yet sophisticated melodic blues mandolin playing really adds to the expressive feel of each song,
and provides a strong melodic counterpoint to the inventive and intelligent guitar stylings of Knutson’s playing.
Recorded in two LIVE sessions as an acoustic trio, you can hear the spontaneity and intimacy of the recording process.
The mix makes you feel like you are right there in the studio with the band listening to them.
Also of note are the socially conscious lyrics that walk the line between poetic, autobiographical, humorous, and fiercely candid, and their honesty strikes a chord.
‘Shake the Blues’ a life statement, where the music you listen to has been literally crafted in every conceivable facet by the artist.
This CD is available at The Last Record Store in Santa Rosa (first choice), and CD Baby online (last choice!).

Happy Record Store Day 4/20 2013!

I attended Sierra Vista Elementary School (La Habra, CA) in the 1960’s.

Every week (if I was good!) my dad would pay me an allowance, and I would hop on my Schwinn Sting-Ray and head to one of the town’s record stores. Record Town was on the corner of Central Ave. & Beach Blvd; they had lots of 45’s and all the sections that “normal” record stores had: Easy Listening, Broadway Shows, Classical. I would alternate my browsing between the singles and the Pop/Rock section. The staff seemed really old. They were probably in their 30’s…

MusiX Box was closer to my house near the corner of Harbor and Whitter Blvd’s. The name was dumb. Why the “X” in “MusiX” which was pronounced, “Music“?????  The staff was unusual: Chuck had a squeaky voice and installed car stereos outside, leaving people uncomfortably alone in the store. There was dude we called “The Swede”. I think he was British. He had long blonde hair and talked funny. My friend Brian Mulvey and I used to get him to answer, “It Hahsn’t Been Releeesd Yut”  when we’d ask him about something we KNEW wasn’t out yet- just so we could hear his unusual accent…

I was never friends with any of the people that worked in record stores when I was growing up. In fact, I don’t think they knew my name as we didn’t small-talk.  What is really strange is that I never thought about working in a record store. I had so many records that my collection had  American groups filed separately from British groups. I knew the record labels, read all the liner notes, etc. but I never envisioned myself as a record retailer.

Now after 38 years in the record biz (30 here in Santa Rosa) I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve made many friends over the years, and met some of my very best buds within the walls of The Last Record Store.
I love watching people shop for music. Seeing quirky shopping styles, listening to conversations, checking out people digging music. My people. It’s like the best Reality TV- without the television!

Six years ago on the first Record Store Day, we were given bags and lots of cool shit to stuff them with; “give-aways”  to our most rabid customers.

Hey RSD people! Why the lack of SWAG??  Sadly, we have no bags o’ swag…

I just so happen to have few copies of my album (wait to roll your eyes until I’m not looking) “Voices in the Wind” which was mastered at Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs and pressed on 180 gram vinyl. What an irony that the demographic of my modest fan-base doesn’t listen to vinyl! The cover was designed by local legend Michael Houghton (his firm is called “Designed By Monkeys”). Anyway, please accept this LP as a token of my high regard for you, as well as an apology for not having something cooler to give away..

Thank you Last Record Store customers.
Long May You Run!

Doug Jayne

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