Vinyl Record Sales Rise Among Young People

(Written January 2014)


Disc Jockey Emily Scholle has a passion for vinyl records, one that began with a pair of tiny, dirty toddler hands and a sense of rebellion.

“Vinyl always did have a little something extra for me,” Scholle said. “We had a couple of records when I was really little growing up, and I was never allowed to touch them, because when you’re little your hands are all grubby and stuff. It was this big forbidden thing, so that’s part of what the draw was for me.”

Scholle has DJed for KJHK in Lawrence and plays various gigs under the moniker DJ Modrey Hepburn, but you won’t find her simply plugging in her computer and watching two people on the dance floor do the electric slide; Scholle is a rare breed of DJ who plays exclusively vinyl at her shows, mostly from the 1950s and ’60s.

Scholle’s infatuation with vinyl is indicative of a larger trend in the music industry over the last five years in which sales of vinyl LPs have increased from 1.9 million in 2008 to 6 million in 2013, according to Digital Music News.

Kelly Corcoran, who owns Love Garden Sounds on Eighth and Massachusetts Streets and has over 2,500 records, says this vinyl revival isn’t the result of middle-aged people reliving their youth through old Rod Stewart albums, but young 20-somethings looking to rebel through music, just as Scholle was.

“A whole generation of people have been taught their culture is irrelevant and has no value because baby-boomers always say, ‘Well, The Beatles are the best,’ and that gets annoying,” Corcoran said. “Young people are buying records because they’re thinking, ‘This physical thing reinforces my taste and it means my taste has value. Look, they made a record, and it must be a big deal if they made a record.’”

To see how big of an influence young adults are having on vinyl sales, just look at Billboard’s top 10 best selling vinyl albums of 2013, a list that includes Daft Punk (“Random Access Memories”), Arcade Fire (“Reflektor”) and Vampire Weekend (“Modern Vampires of the City”), among other contemporary bands.

But there’s more at play here than just musical revolt when it comes to the increase in vinyl sales. From the light thud a needle makes when it’s dropped onto a record to having to physically flip it to continue to hear the music, Corcoran says listening to vinyl is a process people simply enjoy.

“It’s a learned process and requires an appreciation for stopping for a minute, that’s what people like about it,” Corcoran said. “I’ll literally sit there like some hippie in ’72 and look inside the gatefold and just gawk at the pictures and be really curious.”

In a time when sales of typical music mediums like CDs and digital albums are dropping, vinyl LPs are experiencing such unprecedented growth that the music industry is being forced to accommodate it. According to Nielsen SoundScan, 2013 saw CD sales dropped by 14.5 percent, and for the first time since the creation of iTunes, digital album sales dipped into the negative, declining by .01 percent. Juxtaposed to that are the sales of vinyl LPs, which grew by 32 percent in the past year.

“You definitely don’t run into any artists who aren’t on vinyl,” said Franklin Fantini, an employee at Love Garden Sounds. “Anybody that’s on a decently sized label is going to be releasing everything on CD, digital and vinyl, so there’s rarely anything new that you can’t find on vinyl now.”

However, as vinyl records continue their inevitable ascension from hipster niche to mainstream, they could face the same issue as the popular indie bands on their covers: Sellin’ out and losing the fans that were there from the beginning, man.

“There was a time when new music on vinyl was a rare thing,” Scholle said. “Maybe some indie bands would put out a vinyl just for the heck of it, but as it gets more popular, the price of vinyl has gone up too, and that really sucks.”

Photo by George Mullinix

Scary Larry

(October 2013)

An adulterer-governor and his dead, underage mistress. A Clyde Barrow robber. Sad Native American spirits. No, this isn’t an excerpt from a Stephen King blurb, these are the focus of three stories that help make Lawrence one of the spookiest towns not only in Kansas, but in the entire Midwest.

After speaking with paranormal experts in the state, we created a list of the top three locations in Lawrence with the strongest paranormal presence and most intriguing ghost stories. Among the top three, in no particular order, are the Sigma Nu Fraternity, Merchants Pub & Plate, and the Haskell Cemetery.

Sigma Nu

The Sigma Nu fraternity house makes for what may be the most compelling and spookiest haunting of this list.

“Sigma Nu has a great story,” said Brenda Mason, the founder of the Kansas Paranormal Society. “It’s a romantic story with tragic loss, and the spirit in the house is extremely present there too.”

The spirt Mason speaks of is one named Virginia, the fourteen year-old love interest of the old Kansas Governor Walter Stubbs. The house that now belongs to Sigma Nu was once the home of Governor Stubbs, and one night upon returning to his house from Topeka, Stubbs found Virginia hanging from a chandelier on the third floor. Rocking gently in a chair next to Virginia’s body was Stubbs wife, who was later committed to a mental health asylum.

As far as paranormal activity goes, investigators and the boys who have lived in the house say Virginia makes her presence known. Former residents have felt light touching on their feet while laying in their beds, and the Paranormal Society had a mounted camera in the building thrown and left swinging from the ceiling. But one of the more eery tales says Virginia’s ashes are kept behind a plaque near the fire place, and that those ashes are responsible for a piece of wood paneling on the opposite side of the wall refusing to stay attached.

Nevertheless, visitors of Sigma Nu shouldn’t be scared for their safety. Virginia doesn’t seem to be out for blood, but just a little attention like any teenage girl.

“I don’t get an evil vibe at all from her,” said registered metaphysical practitioner Lena Townsend. “There was a love story there that wasn’t shared at the time, and she’s there to make her self known because she loved him so much that she just couldn’t leave.”


In this haunted bank-turned-restaurant, another juicy story helps raise the spookiness from “Hm, that’s kind of weird,” to “Get me the hell out of here, now.”

Merchants, which used to be the First National Bank of Lawrence, is believed by many to be the first robbery of Clyde Barrow, one-half of the infamous outlaw duo known as Bonnie and Clyde.

While Barrow himself does not haunt what are now buffet tables, the historical significance of the place is enough to keep some spirits around.

“The thing with these haunted places is is that you’re usually going to find out they’re related to historical events and Lawrence has that,” said Mason. “What we’ve found is that it’s never really related to current stuff, it’s connected to the land and all that energy that is now there.”

One of the spirits that has apparently connected to that energy is that of an old poker player who was caught cheating and killed, according to Townsend’s psychic pick-ups.

Now that spirit will toy with the workers at merchants by moving chairs on and off the tables and move noisily up and down the stairs of the building, giving off an understandably creepy vibe; a far cry from his alcohol-fueled poker-cheating days.

Haskell Cemetery

In what has to be without a doubt the saddest ghost story in Lawrence, the cemetery near Haskell University serves as the final resting place for many Native American children.

As one of the stops along the Lawrence ghost tours, many people have reported seeing small apparitions roaming the grounds. These are, according to Lawrence Ghost Tour Guide Beth Kornegay, the spirits of long-dead Native American babies.

“This definitely represents one of the saddest parts of Kansas history,” Kornegay said. “Children who were buried here died when they were taken from their families to help assimilate. Unfortunately, these children died because they had no immunities and were exposed to the white-man’s disease.”

Townsend added that you don’t need the third eye to pick up on the sad spirits at the cemetery.

“If you just go stand in the gazebo area of the campus, even if you’re not an attuned psychic, you can almost get a visual sense of the things that happened there so man years ago. You can see children, not college-aged, just kind of wandering, and there’s a very strong presence of sad children.”

American Outlaws Pre-Game Hype

(March 2014)


This is a game about opportunities.

23 specifically.

This matchup allows Coach Jurgen Klinsmann to scout Yanks based abroad who are vying for an opportunity only 23 guys will get: a nine hour flight to South America and a chance to sink their boots into a Brazuca this summer. USMNT staples like Timmy Howard, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey will look to cement their place in the final World Cup roster, while the young gunners like Juan Agudelo, Aron Johannsson and John Brooks are hoping to impress Klinsmann enough to add a Brazilian stamp to their passports. A wise, famous and fictional police officer by the name of Roger Murtaugh once said, “I’m too old for this…” but you know who isn’t? Oguchi Onyewu and Jonathan Spector, two guys who will also be champing at the bit in this fixture for an opportunity at World Cup glory yet again.

It’s an opportunity to prove something as a team too. To prove 2014 will continue to come up all red, white and blue. We passed our first test against South Korea last month, but it only gets tougher from here. Our Ukrainian foes may have failed to qualify for the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t our stiffest competition of 2014 yet. The Yellow and Blue are ranked 18th by FIFA, making them the highest ranked team who won’t be in Brazil, and a team we have never defeated. That changes Wednesday.

This is also an opportunity for us to prove that the beautiful game can transcend. In a time of political unrest and awful violence, our boys have a chance to don the Stars and Stripes proudly along side the Yellow and Blue and be beacons of hope together in a time that may seem hopeless for many Ukrainians.