Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Recently I visited Totnes, a small Devon town that has a railway station,  one high street, lots of independent shops, at least 3 churches, more bars and plenty of tea rooms and coffee shops. It's also on the river Dart which makes for some picturesque scenery. There's a kooky-ness to it and in a Napoleon dynamite way they have a shop that just sells 'crystals', reminding me of the line in the film when Napoleons uncle buys a 'time machine' off the internet and Napoleon quips "have you put crystals in it yet?" .

No sooner had I arrived by train that i set out on my mission to visit the only indie record store within ten square miles - Drift. The store itself has also meandered up from it's previous location of left of the high street, to more left of the high street and across the road on the right.

As you walk up the high street there's a Morrisons, Holland & Barratt, whs and a Spar, 'nothing unusual there' you might say, but that's as far as locals will allow the big brands to invade as recently they have protested against a Costa opening there. Morrisons, whs, Spar and the other chains must be chuffed they got in when they did. 

Inside the shop everything is neatly laid out and categorised by genre including plenty of new release titles and there was a good selection of vinyl and dvds. There are write ups next to releases both old and new- good for discovery- and local artists such as Metronomy were afforded decent displays.

I had a good time chatting with Jenny who was behind the counter and a local called Jez who walked in. We had discussion about the Tame Impala listening party that night, van dyke parks, dylan and local musical luminary Ben Howard involving a little bit of controversy over selling his record a couple of days early because he signed the copies and people wanted to buy it. (Apparently EMI rang them up to tell them off for selling a handful of copies a couple of days early, prompting Howard to ring his label to plead their cause). They also played the Seapony album over the speakers which was a bonus point.

Heading back for the album playback that evening the counter doubled up as a bar with the options of hot drinks (tea or coffee, or coffee with a dash of whisky) or bottled beers. I arrived halfway through the Metz album (via Sub Pop) and stayed all the way through the excellent Tame Impala. I had a good chat with the store owner, Rupert, and we exchanged stories across all manor of subjects from the state of the music industry to fantasy football, writing for music press and where the nearest chip shop might be. Rupert has a big passion for music and for the record business so no surprise that the shop is as good as it is. He spoke about the constant tinkering including questions like 'are those blue lights right for the shop?' and all the changes he'd brought in plus the challenges of running a small business on a tight P&L basis, plus the visits to SXSW to promote new artists and running his own label too.

All in all a very worthwhile visit and a shop well worth checking out if you're in the South West.

Check out their website here (and buy something you like!): http://thedriftrecordshop.net

Flyer for the Listening Party

Bag for CDs to go in

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