The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4B - Thursday, November 17, 2011
Encore Records survives on second chance
How the A2 record store
staple is keeping up
after ownership shuffle
By VERONICA MENALDI
Daily Arts Writer
Nowadays, the moment a new song or
album is released, the natural instinct
is to log on to iTunes, download it and
enjoy. But listeners still need some-
thing real to hold, something tangible,
something timeless. They need a vinyl
Ann Arbor's record store community
nearly lost a member last summer when
the owner of Encore Records on East
Liberty retired, leaving music aficiona-
dos unsure of the shop's future.
But then two employees stepped up
and took over ownership in order to
ensure the store's continued existence.
Back in July, Bill McClelland and Jim
Dwyer decided they couldn't let Encore
disappear after the original owner
announced his retirement. This deci-
sion might seem like quite an undertak-
ing, but surprisingly McClelland and
Dwyer didn't think it was a big deal at all.
Records had become their life and they
couldn't imagine doing anything else.
What started as a learning experi-
ence quickly became a way of life for the
employees, who are passionate about
keeping vinyl alive within the music
"You can feel the grooves," employee
Michael Dykehouse said. "(Records are)
a piece of history in some ways. It's tan-
gible, and I think there will always be a
place in the market for them-- they're
tiny art objects."
Employee Dustin Krcatovich said it
was unfortunate that more record stores
don't stick around for both the custom-
ers' and employees' benefit.
"You learn so much right away (work-
ing in a record store), and you learn that
you'll never know everything," he said.
"It knocks any know-it-all tendencies
out of you. It may be trivial, but it can be
Dwyer said having a store like Encore
disappear would be detrimental to the
community because the store establish-
es a powerful connection between the
music and the customers, newcomers
and regulars alike.
"Musical memories are one of peo-
ple's strongest memories," Dwyer said.
"Maybe music is about more than just
the song itself, it's the whole culture of
the people who follow music."
McClelland said there are customers
who bring their children into their store
to "start them young," hoping they'll
catch the vinyl record bug. He said
when he was a kid, he loved being able
to stare at the covers.
"It's more visual," McClelland said.
"It's something you can hold. It's like art
you can hold in your hands."
Encore is also home to regulars who
stay loyal to the store to find certain
records or just to spend hours talking
with the staff about music.
Amy Stillman, a longtime customer,
has been shopping at Encore since she
moved to Ann Arbor in 1998 and became
a self-described "hardcore vinyl collec-
tor" in 2004. Stillman comes into the
store roughly four to five times a year,
usually leaving with an irreplaceable
sense of satisfaction and $100 worth of
"(Encore) is a record collector's nir-
vana," Stillman said. "It's just a lot of
fun to come in and look at all of this and
the potential it represents."
Regardless of modern technologies,
the power of the Internet and easy
access to digital media, employees at
Encore feel these options can't replace
experiencing music firsthand. Krcatovi-
Encore Records faced the prospect of closing in July, before employees took ownership of the shop.
ch said music becomes a part of the Ann
"A record store is like a field you can
run around in and go from place to
place," Krcatovich said. "I think that's
why a town like Ann Arbor, or any town
at all, benefits from having stores like
(Encore). You can look around, find
what you like and in a way, that's more
organic and ultimately more satisfying."
The fictional Kit Kat Klub sets the scene for the 1966 musical "Cabaret."
From Page 1B
cabaret in the late 19th century in Mont-
martre - then a small town outside Paris.
At first the cabaret acted solely as a gath-
ering place for Salis's bohemian friends to
share their poetry and songs. But cabarets
eventually spread throughout Europe,
evolving into more elaborate political
shows and having a big impact on Berlin.
DePuit said these Berlin cabarets were
political and satirical, blending an eccen-
tric fantasy life with what was going on
at the time in the country. Intellectuals
and liberals would attend these shows not
only to learn about what was going on in
Berlin in the early 1900s, but also to poke
fun at the political climate.
MT&D senior Roman Micevic, who
is directing the MUSKET performance,
said "Cabaret" actually parallels the cab-
arets of the past because there would be
performances with a dialogue and a song
or skit that would relate to that scene.
In cabarets, an emcee, or master of
ceremonies, "bookends, transitions and
presents everything" like a narrator,
according to Ryan, who plays the omni-
present, provocative and anonymous
Emcee in the musical.
Ryan's character re
the characters' relatio
Bowles and Cliff or th
and Jewish lovers Frau
Herr Schultz, while al
the world outside theK
"You're kind of tra
two worlds, the real li
pening with the charac
you're an audience mer
in Berlin in the '20s," R
And All Th
Being an audiencen
or 1930s Berlin-base
have been different th
Ryan compares old
modern-day variety sl
day Night Live" that
taining and informativ
"I believe that it gav(
what TV gives people
"Back in the day, it w
newspaper, only it's a s
But compared to th
the past, the televised
less snarky and control
"It doesn't quite h
bite or political bite t
Germany," DePuit sait
because of the rise of the Third Reich,
people were aware that their world was
falling apart. So it got almost militant at
Cabarets have also evolved into the
simple singer-and-pianist show, in which
the singer takes on the role of the enter-
tainment and the emcee. The lavish cab-
arets of the past were made up of large
orchestras, full ballets and even lantern
The costumes were made of sequins
and glitter, makeup was heavy but col-
orful and women were scantily clad in
fishnet stockings, garters and bustiers.
The show halls were decorated with
wealthy show-goers in the finest of suits
and dresses. Though cabarets may seem
kitschy and vulgar, they were actually an
elegant place to be.
The musical operates on a similarly
AUSTEN HUFFORD/Daily "I think 'Cabaret' is just one of those
shows that doesn't really fade into the
background," said MT&D senior Laura
veals the truth of Reed, who plays Sally Bowles. "It was so
inships, like Sally groundbreaking when it came out. It's a
te German gentile concept musical."
lein Schneider and "Cabaret" was such a game-changer
so commenting on because the subject matter is dark and
it Kat Klub. deep. It may have been difficult for some
nsported between audiences to watch and appreciate it.
ife of what's hap- The show includes debates about abor-
ters and then as if tion and anti-Semitism - in MUSKET's
mber at the cabaret production, one of the main characters is
yan said. bisexual. When the show first came out,
all of these subjects were barely spoken
atJazz about, let alone presented on stage.
And the show's setting is not exactly a
member in a 1920s Broadway-friendly atmosphere.
d cabaret would "If someone just said the words 'musi-
an witnessing one cal theater' in your head, or 'go see a
Broadway musical,' I'm sure the first
-time cabarets to thing you wouldn't think of was World
bows like "Satur- War II and the Nazis," Ryan said. "You'd
are topical, enter- think a chorus line of the Rockettes."
e. Ryan also believes that, though there
e people back then are flamboyancies to the show, it digs
now," Ryan said. deeper than just spectacular numbers.
as like reading a "It's not about the smoke and mir-
how." rors and dazzling, beautiful women and
e stage cabarets of dance numbers," he said. "It has ele-
form of cabaret is ments of that in it, but it's really about
versial a story about these people living in that
lave the satirical time."
that it used to in And though that time no longer exists,
I. "Of course, also there is still a connection to be made
between 20th century Germany and con-
"I think the repercussions of Nazi
Germany and World War II is obviously
something we are still living with," Reed
said. "The mindset of pushing away the
problems of the world and choosing to
ignore it is absolutely relevant today."
She added, "We're always sort of faced
with that choice of accepting who you
are and going with the flow and not wor-
rying about it. ... Or choosing to open our
eyes and view the world and the mess
that it may be."
Devon Perry, MT&D junior and musi-
cal director of "Cabaret," said not only
does the setting of the show cross over to
today, but the music does too.
The composers, John Kander and
Fred Ebb, wrote the music after World
War II, but it reflects the sounds of the
'30s. European oompah-pah horns and
jazzy vocal runs grace the score.
"As soon as you hear it you'll realize
it's not contemporary by any means," she
Perry is planning to bring modernity
to the show while harking back to its era
by using a keyboard to play instruments
that are either out-of-date or hard to
find, like the accordion. The accordion
was one of the main instruments used
in 1930s Berlin, but it was too expensive
and difficult to find one to play for the
Micevic found not only musical rele-
vancy in "Cabaret," but also a connection
to today's politics and economic state.
"It's a timeless tale," he said. "There
are so many parallels to Weimar Germa-
ny and today."
According to Micevic, there's also a
correlation between the rise of the Nazis
in post-World WarI Germany and rise of
the Tea-Party today - he claims a simi-
lar economic situation and scapegoating
The musical is also notable for break-
ing the fourth wall and directing com-
mentary toward the audience. This style
is very imitative of the way cabarets are
performed today and were performed in
"At the end of the evening, the audi-
ence feels that they know you as a person
as well as a performer, so there's no hid-
ing behind a character," DePuit said. "A
good cabaret performer really makes you
feel that you've been sung to directly and
you really know them by the end of the
act. It's a very personal art form."
Maybe This Time
Though it's a social commentary,
"Cabaret" is still a show with lights,
cameras and action. It still involves
deep, fictional characters, direction and
Actors need to dig deep to find a con-
nection to their character. Reed latched
on that connection - and she loved it.
"I sort of feel like Sally is absolutely
this side of me that exists and that I'm
getting to explore," she said. "I was sort
of surprised at how similar we were in
some ways, so I'm just having a lot of fun
Ryan, too, feels a personal connection
to the Emcee.
"I have been singing this show in the
shower since I was seven," he said. "It's
really the reason I wanted to be an actor.
... It has been a dream of mine to play
this role forever."
Actors leaving their real lives to
transition into fictional, entertaining
characters resembles how the cabarets
transcribed real life into engaging num-
bers. For the MUSKET actors, this is
just something they do for fun - block
out real life and live in a fantasy world.
But for some, it's a way of living.
"There's this idea of this decadent
sort of dream world that we're living in
today," Micevic said. "We're all plugged
into our own music with our iPods, we
can choose to follow the news, we have a
lot more information through the Inter-
net. It's so much easier for us to ignore
this sort of news, and that's exactly
what this cabaret is all about."
Cabarets put on an air of lightness,
and some people, like Sally Bowles, get
swept up in its charm. But Micevic said
we should open our eyes to what is going
on in front of us and not ignore it.
"We should be aware of this dream
world, this happy-go-lucky place that
we can go to," he said.
This is the essence of "Cabaret," a
show that embraces history and glitzy
escapism but also grounds itself in reali-
ty. This is the life, old chum, of a cabaret.
"Cabaret" is set in Weimar Germany, where the characters of The Emcee and ca