New record shop Lagniappe Records offers eclectic mix out of couple’s home
By Jake ClappPosted Aug 7, 2013
As Patrick Hodgkins and Tess Brunet help an older couple unload stacks of vinyl records from the trunk of their packed car, the group occasionally pauses to comment on an album pulled from the pile. It might be a remark on when the record was purchased, or how many times the couple had played the vinyl, or about how this track on that album stacked up in the band’s catalogue.
The older couple is moving and trying to “find a new home” for their sizable record collection, and Hodgkins and Brunet are more than happy to oblige. They will sift through the collection and get back to the couple within a few days with their offer to buy the records.
“They have a lot of good stuff, I’m trying to keep it cool,” Brunet whispers as she rushes back into the white stucco home she shares with Hodgkins to grab more boxes.
Brunet and Hodgkins run Lagniappe Records, a small record shop, out of the front room of their house on France Street.
A red vinyl record tacked to the front porch of the mid-city home and a paper sign on the door are the only outside identifiers for the shop. But, on the inside, the small room is crowded with racks of new and used vinyl, and the walls are lined with numerous outward-facing albums ranging from Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, and Chuck Willis to Plan 9 and Os Mutantes. The adjoining room – what might have once been considered the living room – is filled in every corner with instruments and even more vinyl. Brunet and Hodgkins hope to use the space to host small house shows with traveling musicians.
The shop is inviting and intimate, especially with cookies and a French Press filled with coffee sitting out for customers. With the sounds of a battered copy of Highway 61 Revisited coming from a turntable, it’s hard to tell where store ends and home begins.
Once the older couple have left, Brunet and Hodgkins let out their enthusiasm for the giant stack of records sitting in the next room. They’re not only excited to increase the inventory for their small business, but as passionate record collectors, they have an affection for the new vinyl they have on hand.
“We want vinyl to be a hobby,” Brunet says. “I really do feel it just improves the quality of life. It’s so cool to hold on to this big thing, you can read the liner notes and see who plays on what. And if you pay attention to all that stuff, you see that this bass player played on a gazillion records. You won’t get that if you downloaded the album.”
The couple are musicians themselves. Brunet played drums for Generationals and Deadboy & the Elephantmen before starting her solo project, Au Ras Au Ras, through which she met Hodgkins, a bassist.
They enjoy talking about music and describing the usually unknown connections between albums. Scattered through the racks of vinyl, small post-it notes are attached to various records with trivia about the album.
“You maybe have heard of this person, and they may not have been known at that time, but 20 years later they have more of a legacy,” Hodgkins says. “‘Robbie Robertson from The Band played on this.’ Stuff like that. We want to make it educational and more interactive.”
Hodgkins says he wants to be able to connect with the customers that come into Lagniappe Records, and be able to recommend new music or hold for them an album he might come across down the road.
Brunet and Hodgkins are recent transplants to Baton Rouge. The couple met in New Orleans and moved to Nashville, but they soon missed Louisiana and decided to move back. Baton Rouge seemed like the best spot – close to New Orleans, Lafayette and Houma, and with possibilities in the community.
“New Orleans has too much going on, so it seems like it can be over-flooded,” Brunet says. “I felt like Baton Rouge would be a place that would welcome us a lot more, perhaps, and we could really do something cool in the community and incorporate people. Here we could really make an impact.”
Hodgkins has operated Lagniappe Records since 2010, but only as an online store. He began collecting as a kid, when he would go to Goodwill and buy 99-cent records – a steal compared to the $15 CDs at the mall.
“I had too much, I was like a crazed hoarder,” Hodgkins says about why he started selling records. “I had too much vinyl and not enough space, so I thought, ‘Do I really need three copies of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass?’ So I started selling them and it became sort of a hobby.”
With the move to Baton Rouge, Hodgkins decided to open a physical location for Lagniappe Records, in order to “establish more face-to-face interactions and get to know what people like,” rather than the impersonal routine of selling online.
Even though it is their first brick-and-mortar shop, Brunet and Hodgkins are drawing on examples from the countless record stores they’ve worked in - or rifled through - over the years.
“Just having that experience, years of experience being in various independent record stores,” Brunet says. “And also being on tour 9 months out of the year, you find yourself in a lot of record stores.”
With diverse individual tastes, Brunet and Hodgkins also want to stock Lagniappe Records with an eclectic mix, including classic rock albums, jazz, funk, world music and Louisiana staples.
“There is a lot of our own personalities here in the stuff we want to carry,” Hodgkins says.
Even though the store space is small, Brunet and Hodgkins don’t feel limited. They say that even if their business grows down the road, they want to maintain the intimate vibe, no matter the size of the store.
They also hope to become involved in the Baton Rouge community through early shows out of their home, documentary screenings and playing in the local music scene. The idea is to just spread a love and appreciation for music.
“I don’t want anyone to walk out of here empty-handed because they couldn’t afford something,” Hodgkins says. “I want it to be accessible. I love music. I want to share music with everybody.”
Lagniappe Records is located at 986 France St. Regular store hours are Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. For more information visit www.lagniapperecords.com.