OA: Rock Cesario Column November 14, 2008
Smokestack Records had a large impact on music scene
In my opinion, I would not be in the business that I am in if it were not for Smokestack Records.
Smokestack was a record store started by Frank Elenz and Michael Lindsey in the mid-1970s here in Grand Junction.
At that time, there were three other record stores in town. Mazzuca’s, Budget Tapes and Records and the Record Room were the big stores, but places such as J.C. Penney, Woolworths, Skagg’s Drug Store and a few others also sold vinyl.
There was no mall and CDs were at least a decade away from dominating the market.
Smokestack was originally located on Rood Avenue between Third and Fourth streets on the south side of the street in a small space next to an arcade. That is how I discovered them.
I was headed to the arcade to play foosball with some friends and there was the Smokestack. Frank and Michael attended the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley where they got to know and became good friends with the owner/operators of the Finest Record Store in Greeley.
Michael and Frank both married teachers and decided to give it a go as partners and open a record store in Grand Junction.
It didn’t take long for me to get to know them and before too long, I was doing all of my record-buying there and telling all of my friends to shop there.
The business grew and soon moved to a larger space on North Fifth Street south of Roper Music. That is where I eventually talked them into giving me a job.
It might have been due to the fact I was spending most of my free time there bugging them about music.
Remember the scene from “High Fidelity” about the part-time employees who just started showing up every day even though they weren’t getting paid? That was me and a few other people back in the 1970s, hanging out in record stores.
I was lucky to have worked with some great people at Smokestack Records besides Frank and Michael.
There was Joe Bradley, who went on to work for a major record label, and Jerry Krug, an old classmate from Orchard Mesa Junior High.
I also worked with Mike Roberts, who has worked for the publication Westword in Denver for a number of years.
Arn McConnell was another co-worker and among other things he now has a radio show on KAFM 88.1 under the name Craven Loveless.
There were others, such as Gwen Pipe and Shari Edmunds, who were part of the Smokestack Records’ family, and surely some I have forgotten.
Frank and Michael made a great mix as partners as Frank was more of the detail person, taking care of the business side of the store and Michael was easygoing and became everybody’s friend.
It was a struggle for them to make ends meet as partners and they both told me so.
That is why Triple Play is a sole proprietorship, and in this day and age the business is still a challenge
but well worth the effort, thanks to Frank and Michael’s influence.
Personally, I learned a great deal from both of them about music and the business of music and use what I learned to this day at Triple Play.
I also made personal friendships with people who were customers of Smokestack Records and are now customers of Triple Play Records. How cool is that?
If you remember Smokestack Records, stop by Triple Play Records because I would love to talk to you about it.