Q&A: Jay Leavitt of Deep Groove Records

Q: Tell us briefly about yourself – what are your interests & hobbies?

A: I’m the owner of Deep Groove Records and my interests are music and concert going. I do go to the gym everyday…would that be considered a hobby?

The man and music fan...Jay

The man and music fan, busy behind the counter…Jay Leavitt!

Q: Describe your style in 3 words or less:

A: Very simple man.

Keepin' it simple...buying and selling vinyl records.

Keepin’ it simple…buying and selling vinyl records.

Q: What was the first record you bought with your own money?

A: I bought a 45…it was the Doors “Light My Fire.” I was trying to decide between “Windy” by The Association and the Doors “Light My Fire” won out. I guess that was the road I was down…you know…a little grittier, a little more rock n’ roll.

Here's a 45 I can get down with...anything by the Beatles...

Here’s a 45 I can get down with…anything by the Beatles…

Q: You grew up in Alabama. How do you think that has influenced your musical taste?

I’m a huge fan of music that came from there because I’m proud of it. If I do have a hobby, it’s collecting records from Muscle Shoals Sound and keeping up with the history of that. I probably have 300 records that were recorded from that area. I was 11 years old when Percy Sledge recorded “When a Man Loves a Woman” in Sheffield, Alabama. I was a paper boy and used to see the stories about the artists who recorded in town that were featured in the paper…and I used to think, “man, there is something going on here.” And my interested started then.

The most amazing collection of concert ticket stubs that I've ever seen are on display  on the counter. Jay thinks he's been to at least 1,500 shows.

The most amazing collection of concert ticket stubs that I’ve ever seen are on display on the counter. Jay thinks he’s been to at least 1,500 shows.

Q: What is your most treasured record in your record collection?

A: Songs of Freedom by Bob Marley…it only came out in the UK and didn’t come out in the United States. I just looked it up to see what they sell for and they sell for around $250. There are a lot of different and unusual takes of songs on that album that you can’t get anywhere else.

We be jammin'...in the store that is! Listening to the sweet sounds of Marley in the shop...

We be jammin’…in the store that is! Listening to the sweet sounds of Marley in the shop…

Q: How has owning a record store influenced the music that you now add to your personal collection?

I have given up seriously collecting records since I have started Deep Groove Records. There was a guy from Austin Texas who was in the store and he looks at me and goes, “You have to give up collecting when you do this, otherwise you are taking all of the good stuff home.” In four years, I have probably only taken 40 records home total from the shop…and there have been a lot of great records that have come around. Plus, I don’t listen at home much anymore because I’m in the store all day and can play whatever I want….I own them all! At one point, I had about 5,000 records in my personal collection but have sold about half of them in this shop.

A smattering of autographed records are on display behind the counter.

A smattering of autographed records are on display behind the counter.

Q: What do you think is the driving force behind the renewed interest in buying/collecting vinyl  records?

A: We get asked this question a lot. I break it down it down into three different groups of people that buy records. First you have people who are my age (58), who never gave up on listening to or buying records….the type of people that continue to buy, sell, collect and listen to records. Then there’s the age group of people that grew up in the cd era. Those folks will have a friend who has gotten into records and then they’ll hear the records and go, “Oh, that’s kinda cool.” And then there’s young people. With young people, I think that  they’ve grown up with MP3 files, but they don’t have anything else…nothing to read or look at. The music becomes a disposable thing. It takes activity to listen to a record. You have to sit down, put the needle in the groove, you have to change the record…it’s an active listening experience. The one thing that all of those different demographics have in common is that they are all music lovers.

Music lovers can sample their sounds before they purchase!

Music lovers can sample their sounds before they purchase!

Q: Is there one album that you’ve wanted to own, but never found?

A: I have been looking for a Jimmy Cliff album and it was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound in 1971 (called Another Cycle). They must not have sold many copies of it because I’ve never seen it in all my years selling records.

Find what you're looking for...most records range in price from $40 - $3.

A collectors dream! Find what you’re looking for…most records range in price from $40 – $3.

Q: You purchase a lot of collections for the shop. What was the greatest score?

A: Lonnie Lissen Smith was a jazz album collector/fan and I bought about 500 records from his personal collection about a year and a half ago. It was one of the most amazing jazz collections that you can imagine…there were a lot of extremely rare records like Sun Ra records. Some of the Sun Ra records were from his band members, like his drummer…things that you just don’t find. They were produced on very private labels and there were only about 1,000 of them made.

Special Note! Be sure to support your local record store this Saturday…April 20th…on National Record Store Day!

Copyright 2013. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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