This is The Beat, a beloved record store which for twenty years has lived on the corner of J and 17th Streets in midtown Sacramento. It was the existence of this record store, with its huge stock of new and used CDs (including stuff I hadn’t even seen in the UK), that first brought me to discover midtown Sac back in early 2007. I would go out there on weekend afternoons fairly regularly after that, sketching the very sketchable neighbourhood, popping into the Streets of London pub for beer and fish and chips, browsing comics at Big Brother, buying pens at the University Art Store. I don’t come out here very often these days (nor do I buy music much any more, maybe an album every six months or so from a band I already know) but when I do I always pop into The Beat and browse the racks. I spent a lot of my youth browsing the racks at London record stores – Loppylugs in Edgware, Notting Hill Record&Tape Exchange, HMV/Virgin/Our Price – most of which are either gone or dying breeds. Even Tower Records, which I always knew from its celebrated spot at the corner of Piccadilly Circus, is no more – Tower was in fact a Sacramento native, named for the Tower Theater next door to the original Land Park store, and when the chain closed the original is all that remained. The world does things differently now.
I went by again recently to sketch The Beat one last time, because at the end of June this record store is being forced to move, and I don’t yet know where it will end up. They aren’t going out of business, it’s just that the landlords gave them a 90 day notice to vacate now that their current lease is expiring. The property is owned by the same family, the Soehrens, that built the premises back in the 1920s and apparently have been pretty flexible in the past with rent reductions, but times are tough; they haven’t stated who the new tenants will be, but hopefully it will be one that gives the neighbourhood as much character as The Beat does. I hope they will be able to stay local, but I for one will miss them in this spot, since they’re usually my first destination when walking to midtown from downtown Sac.
Sketched on location on Canson Montval watercolour paper with a micron pigma pen and Cotman watercolours.
Also blogged at Urban Sketchers