.On the Corner Music’s Record Swap

On the Corner Music will hold an epic vinyl swap

Jeff Evans is moving things around in the storage room behind On the Corner Music, his used vinyl record shop on Park Ave, so we can walk outside to the back yard, where his next record swap will unfold on Sunday.

The space behind the building, shared by a few other tenants including a dry cleaner and a Kumon tutoring program, is perfect for a small record swap. Normally inaccessible to the general public, the space evokes a peaceful vibe. 

A few chairs lean against the fence, where a fruit tree droops over from the yard next door. A large rose is painted on the back of the building—either a nod to the Rosegarden neighborhood or Rosicrucian Park across the intersection, depending on your perspective. The rocking restaurant next door, Park Station Hashery, also features a rose on its signage. Symbolism pervades in this part of town.

Previous to this current location at Park and Naglee, Evans operated the former incarnation of On the Corner Music in Campbell. For about 14 years the store occupied a janky old building—you guessed it—on the corner of East Campbell and Dillon Ave. Then the city and the landlord decided the parcel would be more useful as a vacant lot, so Evans was forced out.

All is good, though. At this new location, which he opened a few years back, Evans says the community has been more than supportive.

“As soon as I started putting posters up on the windows, it was like I was opening an ice cream shop,” he said. “People just started coming over.”

Inside the shop, I see exactly what I expected, in all the right ways. Worn U-Haul boxes are filled with records. A Merl Saunders LP softly spins away. Old turntables, receivers and amps are stacked on wire shelving. Other gear sits in various piles. There are posters of Dylan, the Stones and Digital Underground. Almost every record I flip through is reasonably priced. Unlike Amoeba, he doesn’t have ‘80s punk LPs for $200. More than anyone would possibly pay. 

Of course, I go straight to a section where I see piles of books. I flip through music biographies of all sorts. Leonard Cohen. Wilco. Zappa. Coltrane. The Greil Marcus classic, Dead Elvis. I even see a compendium from the Michael Ochs Archives, reminding me of a column I wrote in 2005, when Ochs showed up at San Jose State to talk about his life-project of archiving music photos for half a century.

Speaking of columns, no reasonable newspaperman in my position would possibly do something so destructive as to separate himself from the story, so as I browse, my memories of Evans’ former store in Campbell come spiraling back. 

When East San Jose’s Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park opened in 2008, Steve Caballero, who then lived in Campbell, curated an art show at the old location of On the Corner Music. I wrote a Metro cover story about the skate park, including the art party in Campbell, which spilled out into the street for hours.

One year later, in 2009, I wrote a column about another art show at On The Corner. This time, locals were asked to design new art works on used LP covers. Tattoo artists, skateboard legends, club owners, horror-movie aficionados, painters, photographers and clothing designers all participated. It was an amazing night. Crowds likewise filled the intersection.

Evans staged many parties at that old building. Not much else in Campbell ever really touched the awesomeness of that little corner joint.

Since On the Corner opened at this new rosy location, much has already transpired. Collaboration with nearby businesses became easy. Just standing on the sidewalk, one can see how Park Station Hashery creates foot traffic, or even wheel traffic, especially for Two Wheel Tuesdays, when anyone showing up on a bicycle gets two beers for the price of one, with lunch or dinner, every Tuesday, all day long.

“All these Santa Clara University kids come over on their longboards,” Evans said. “It’s a serious party.”

A university neighborhood. Businesses branded on local history. Ancient mystical orders across the street. If one just keeps exploring, everything will eventually come up roses.


On the Corner Music

1737 Park Ave, San Jose

Record Swap

Feb. 25, 12–4pm

Gary Singh
Gary Singhhttps://www.garysingh.info/
Gary Singh’s byline has appeared over 1500 times, including newspaper columns, travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy (2015, The History Press) and was recently a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University. An anthology of his Metro columns, Silicon Alleys, was published in 2020.

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