Thursday, April 11, 2019

Black Holes and Gravity

Yesterday we Earthlings were treated to the first known photograph of a black hole in outer space.  The event sparked manic joy in the scientific world, but this dark matter, molecule ripping, suck station is not my favorite example of a black hole. I would say that honor belongs to a much smaller orifice found in the middle of a vinyl disc.

Once upon a time in a galaxy not so far away called Rockville, Skip Groff opened a record shop in an otherwise banal shopping center appropriately named Sunshine Plaza. This seemingly ordinary store produced a mysterious gravitational pull which sucked kids like Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye right out of DC and into Yesterday and Today Records. Sunshine Plaza was never the same.

Ian MacKaye with the luminary Skip Groff@ 9:30 Club 1984

The mystery was solved a few weeks ago when a cosmic cloud of local talent gathered to pay their respects to Skip who left us in February.  He was the star that pulled customers into his realm and shed light with his encyclopedic knowledge of music and his sympathetic ear.  Henry Rollins flew in from LA to say goodbye. Both Henry and Ian spoke of the many legendary trips in a beat up car from DC to Rockville just to talk to Skip and see what was new. Both attributed their musical careers, which include bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat, to Skip. Ian started Dischord Records. Mark Noone of the Slickee Boys remembered his visits to the store:

"I met Kim Kane there before I ever considered that I might some day be in Slickee Boys. My buddy Mike Dignan drove me there to get the materials that I would need to practice so I could audition for Slickee Boys. We used to go up there before that just to see who would be there. It was a church; a shrine. Skip Groff changed lives, including mine. He believed in people. He validated the thing we did and encouraged us to want to do it."

This Saturday is Record Store Day, and although Skip is gone, his comrades remain. Please support our local record stores. Joe's Record Paradise is having a listening party from 3-6 p.m. Here's a link to more choices brought to you by DC 101, but a field trip to Frederick would have to include local musical stars Bob Berberich and Martha Hull's shop Vinyl Acres. Plus the punks from Snubbed Records are putting on a free show with live music at the Pie Shop starting at 4 pm.

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