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New Bristol, Va., store to offer new and used vinyl record albums
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New Bristol, Va., store to offer new and used vinyl record albums

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BRISTOL, Va. — One would think that an abundance of record stores would populate the Twin City that is branded the birthplace of country music.

But no. It’s been nearly a decade since a store dedicated primarily to the sale of pre-recorded music existed in downtown Bristol. That one, Sessions 27, was on the Virginia side of State Street.

Now comes another. Shane Church plans to open Ceremonial Sound on Euclid Avenue in Bristol, Virginia. Dedicated to the sale of new and used vinyl record albums, Church’s store will open at noon on Saturday, Oct. 23.

“For our town to have such a rich history in music, it’s just a shame that we haven’t had any resource for buying music until now,” said Church, owner of Ceremonial Sound.

Church spoke while seated in his office at the store. Bins of used records, including a $2 copy of The Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll,” awaited installment out front.

“We will sell only vinyl,” said Church, 45. “We will be offering other favorites and special editions, but we are in the business of selling vinyl because I love records so much.”

From the parking lot, nothing screams record store. There’s but a modest sign, which proclaims rather simply, Ceremonial Sound.

Located in the end unit of the strip mall-like building at 264 Euclid Ave., a step inside Church’s shop Wednesday revealed a work in progress. Several long bins line a wall to the right, in the middle, and back left wall of the store. The sales counter occupies the far-left wall, near a large picture window.

An LP of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “Live Rust” spun on a turntable from behind the counter. Its grungy rock guitars-drenched music permeated the store.

“I feel in my element,” Church said. “I love the sights, the sounds, the smells of a record store. I hope people who haven’t experienced that, that this shop will give that experience to them. I hope this shop will help people to experience music they love.”

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Church maintains a longtime history of music in the Bristol area. Until the early 2000s, he worked for years at now-defunct Sonic CDs locations in Bristol and Abingdon.

“After working at Sonic CDs in the early ‘90s and early 2000s, it’s all I wanted to do,” Church said. “I’ve always wanted to work in a record shop.”

Church also played guitar in a number of bands. Primary among them, he played the local circuit as part of heavy metal groups Mossy Jaww and Serpents Eve.

More recently, Church worked as bar manager at Elderbrew on 6th Street in Bristol, Tennessee. Yet during the 2020 pandemic, life changed for the now-budding entrepreneur.

“I lost my job during the pandemic,” he said. “So, I’m going to try this. It’s always been my dream.”

Boxes of new records include country and blues along with rock and bluegrass and experimental music.

A closer survey revealed new LPs in the form of Charles Bradley’s old-school soul “Changes” and a clear vinyl copy of Howlin’ Wolf’s blues-drenched “Change My Way Revisited.” An extension of the arm and one could grasp a sealed picture disc of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Blizzard of Ozz,” which rested alongside a picture disc of King Diamond’s dark metal classic, “Abigail.”

Ceremonial Sound’s used bin ran a wide gamut of albums priced from $1-$4. Artists ranged from Country Music Hall of Fame members Grandpa Jones and Dolly Parton to rock’s Rolling Stones and Hawaiian music king Don Ho.

“Price ranges will be anywhere from $15 to imports that can range up to $40 for a single, new LP,” Church said. “You can get jazz records all day long for $15. When you’re looking at major label popular stuff, like the Pink Floyd reissue of ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ it’s about $30.”

Meanwhile, opening day looms for Ceremonial Sound. The lights are on, music’s playing, and records are ready to find new homes.

“I feel like I’m home,” Church said, perched behind the counter of his store. “I feel in my element.”

Tom Netherland is a freelance writer. He may be reached at features@bristolnews.com.

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