Classical music to be a specialty of new Minneapolis record store

by Nina Slesinger, Special to MPR
June 16, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — Paul D. Dickinson, the punk rock legend of Frances Gumm fame, does not balk at stacks of books or rows of records or tubes of posters. He revels in them. He revels in them so much--in their artfulness, in the communities these objects brings together, in the ideas and songs and pictures they hold--that he, along with partners John Kass (of Go Johnny Go) and Paul "Pash" Pashibin, is opening a record-slash-book-slash-poster store in July. The store will be called Dead Media; the partners have signed a lease for the space at 3330 E. 25th Street in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, across the street from the Birchwood Cafe.

Besides his tenure in Frances Gumm, Dickinson is well-known for having owned the Speedboat Gallery (1988-1994), the DIY art and music space that hosted everyone from Frank Gaard to Green Day ("I paid the $100," he says of the latter). Speedboat, which skirted certain municipal regulations, "was shut down by the police department and the fire department," Dickinson told me with pride.

While Dead Media may never get quite so raucous, Dickinson and his partners hope that it will similarly serve as an independent community gathering place. For starters, Dickinson plans to host the Riot Act Reading Series (which has lately occurred at the Turf Club) in the space. The series, begun in 2006, has grown from an underground punk-poetry show to a Loft-endorsed catchall space for musicians, comedians, and writers. In recent years, the series has hosted the likes of Mark Mallman and National Book Award finalist Matt Rasmussen.

On his end, Kass — one of the area's best-known record dealers, owner of a huge private collection — is thrilled to have found a new outlet for his wares. He will use Dead Media to promote classical music and pre-1950s 78-RPM records. The music selection won't be all pricey rarities, though. "I try to provide an experience where people can get a good deal," Kass told me. "There will be plenty of records for just a dollar. It will be a place for bargains and digging."

And for the art section of the store, Pashibin ("I call [Paul Pashibin] 'Pash' so I don't mix him up with Paul D.," Kass said), a local Apple computer expert who also happens to be involved with the American Poster Institute and the Rock Poster Society, will bring a mix of new and vintage rock posters to the shop, filling out the stock of hard-to-find, unique, and affordable pieces.

Kass looks forward to the ways in which the shop will fill the gaps among existing local music stores. "Every store has rock bands come in. We'll have a place where there can be poetry or string quartets or rock bands or modern classical music," he said. "What's the point of doing what everybody else is doing?"

Discussing record shopping in 2014, Dickinson lamented what he sees as a focus on special editions and one-upmanship. "A lot of people into vinyl lately are about the collectibles." Dead Media, he hopes, will combat that trend by pursuing the goals he's always had in locked-gaze focus: community and quality. "It will be a new home," he said.

No fixed opening date for the store has yet been set, but Kass hopes Dead Media will open in mid-July.

Nina Slesinger is a student at Macalester College.


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