While the Coachella Valley has birthed some of rock’s greatest musicians and has been overflowing with intense musicality for decades, record stores here are few and far between.
In fact, there’s really only one provider of CDs, vinyl and all other things that music fans need—and that store has been doing so since 1978.
“Record Alley is the hub of music,” said Scott McLaughlin, a Record Alley employee and local musician. “Back in the day, everybody used to come in here—celebrities and even local stars like Joshua Homme or Jesse Hughes. It was a cool hangout spot, even back when it was just CDs.”
Turns out Record Alley is still a cool hangout spot: The store has started hosting performances by two music acts each Sunday afternoon. These shows are planned by McLaughlin; I sat down with him recently to discuss his musical journey and the future of Record Alley.
“My great-great-uncle actually wrote ‘La Cucaracha,’” said McLaughlin. “Music has been in my life since I was born. My uncles played Mexican music, and Led Zeppelin was big in my family.
“I moved here when I was in the fifth-grade, and in seventh-grade, I took percussion class and learned how to play drums. I went through marching band and jazz band, then got to my punk phase. Nothing to Lose was my first punk band, and then I switched to pop-punk with my band Losing Team, who you can still find on Spotify. I made a solo album by myself in college, and when I moved back from San Diego, my brother (Brett McLaughlin of Caxton) asked me to start Reborn by the Sunshine with him.”
Reborn by the Sunshine has grown in popularity over the last couple of years, and McLaughlin has been able to meet many artists he admires at various shows. These connections helped lead to the decision to have regular performances at Record Alley.
“I’ve always wanted to book bands that I like and give them a platform,” said McLaughlin. “It makes the store and the mall fun on busy Sundays. I’m sick of going to Big Rock or The Hood and seeing the same bands all the time. I want to pull deep from Joshua Tree and the (Coachella) Valley to find artists who don’t have a shot at playing some of the venues around here. It’s a more quiet, intimate crowd here, and it’s been working.”
Beyond giving local artists another place to play, McLaughlin and Record Alley are working on providing even more for local musicians.
“I’m trying to get the word out more. I’ve been working on a YouTube channel that features the performances here,” McLaughlin said. “We interview the bands and show one of the songs they play and upload it for them to use as promotional material.
“If anyone wants to perform here, then send me a message on Instagram!”
Shows take place at 2 p.m. every Sunday at Record Alley, inside the Westfield Palm Desert, 72840 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.instagram.com/recordalley.