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Blue Bag Records

by Abigail Miglorie

Photography by Abigail Miglorie

On an average day, alt-rock pulsates through the speakers from Blue Bag Records, eliciting deep electric shred while the vinyl searching folk meticulously flip and dig through vintage 33s, 45s, and 78s.

“It’s different than the glorified thrift store,” said Chris Guttmacher. “It’s diverse—interesting.”

It is not uncommon for the store to be filled with record aficionados. Guttmacher, the one-time drummer for praised rock bands Bullet LaVolta and Cul De Sac, recently moved from Los Angeles to the East Coast. With him, he brought Blue Bag Records, his L.A. based-vinyl store and about 7,000 used records to sell at the new Cambridge location.

Records hang from the wall, on the ceiling and even on the windows. Wooden cases and crates line the walls and aisle, and behind Guttmacher are stacked cardboard boxes overflowing with records in their original sleeves that he has yet to sort and display.

“We repurpose records,” Guttmacher said. “Music brings people back in time.”

Although Guttmacher caters mostly to underground rock, including his handpicked selections under the tab “Chris’s Favorites” and even “Weirdness,” the store has an array ’70s and ’80s funk, tangy pop, and experimental rock, especially vintage reggae, and ska vinyl. Limited editions of his very own Bullet LaVolta and Cul De Sac from the early 90s are also for sale, an idiosyncrasy of Blue Bag alone.

The L.A. store boasted almost 20,000 vinyl records and was notoriously known for its $1 section according to Guttmacher, but he’s looking to bulk up again. After living in L.A. since 1994, Guttmacher plans to transform Blue Bag, including upcoming renovations and to buy and sell more CDs. He is always filling crates and cardboard boxes that he has been putting together on the 2325 Massachusetts Avenue location continuously buying and selling records and CDs seven days a week, noon to 8 p.m.

“It’s personal to me,” he recalled. “Music has been a part of my life since I was a kid.”

Cambridge, home to several vinyl stores along Auburn St. and Massachusetts Avenue, Blue Bag is added to the eclectic list, competing with Stereo Jack’s about a mile away: a vinyl enterprise since 1982. In Harvard Square, Armageddon Shop hawks metal and punk albums, and In Your Ear sells the best of classic rock and psychedelica from a basement. Clearly, the record culture of Cambridge is an institution that is here to stay.

There is something bona fide in holding a jaded record sleeve, tainted with history. “It’s authentic,” said Cambridge resident Nick Papadopoulos, “Records hold that essence. It’s raw.”

Blue Bag Records is at 2325 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, open seven days a week noon to 8 p.m and can be reached at (617) 864-2583.

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