There was nothing that demanded my presence in Columbus, Ohio, so I jumped on I-71 South, switched to I-65 and was in “Music City,” in under six hours.
I arrived in Nashville, Tenn., earlier than expected and got sucked into the tourist quagmire on Second Avenue. I paid $15 for a turkey burger at Hard Rock, over-tipped an arrogant and ungrateful valet manager and knew it was time to go.
I hurried off to Jack White’s store; Third Man Records. Jack’s store is only five streets away on Seventh Avenue but seemed miles away from the dazed tourists doing the memorabilia shuffle back on Second.
Third Man Records is an eclectic and quaint store in an area that is being rehabilitated and resembles a once-booming office and manufacturing hub from the ’40s and ’50s. There were many people in the neighborhood that also may have been undergoing “rehab” but I never felt uneasy. They are the real people that live behind the attractive facades of Nashville and give the place character.
Third Man Records’ website states that, “Third Man Records … serves as record store, record label, live venue, and one stop production house with a rehearsal and photo studio, darkroom, and production office and distribution center. All of our records are produced by Jack White in his own Third Man Studio, then printed and pressed right here in Nashville. With our unique set-up we can have an artist recorded and photographed in one day and have records for sale in our store within weeks. In this way we are bringing a spontaneous and immediate aesthetic back into the record business.”
Parking was limited but not a problem as the only other travelers in the store were fellow Ohioans that had the appreciative appearance of rock aficionados.
Jack White’s creative manifestations are found on the shelves and walls of the little store and will leave you impressed.
I was allowed to film inside the store and have included the video. The store can be viewed in one 360 degree spin but it must be performed slowly because you get an eye-full. The store contains records of artists signed by Jack’s label, posters, shirts, all sorts of clever promotional products, the third man monkey band — a 25 cent machine that plays soon to be released music — vinyl records unlike any you’ve ever seen and much more.
The vinyl itself is art and comes in solid colors, tri-color, split color and more. Jack even created a triple-decker record that you must pry apart to play the inner vinyl. Those nostalgic feelings of your old vinyl collection will resurface and have you searching for a new needle for that old turntable.
The staff were unpretentious, friendly and engaging. I caught a glimpse of Jack White’s nephew working in the next room. The main part of the building not open to the public is a large operating business. There was energy among the uniformed staff as if planning for a big event or possibly Jack’s arrival — then again it may have been to clear the docks from the approaching thunderstorm.
Around the time I was at Third Man Records, Stephen Colbert was there with Jack White and filmed the hilarious “2011: A Rock Odyssey” series that can be viewed at the “Colbert Nation” website. Jack also produced the new Stephen Colbert with The Black Belles single, “Charlene II (I’m Over You)” at Third Man Studio.
Being a huge fan of The White Stripes, Raconteurs and The Dead Weather was motivation enough for this day trip but regardless of your musical tastes, this little gem of a store — tucked-away on a back street — has loads of character, Jack White’s personality and is a unique excursion not too far away.