Music shops used to be about more than just selling songs. They were places where people could come and chat about what made music great. There was one in particular, a record shop in Mill Valley, California, that was place where top artists would come to chat and collaborate. Among them were Jerry Garcia, B.B. King, Elvis Costello, and (although he’s not a musician) George Lucas.

The shop closed its doors in 2007, as have many other music shops across the U.S. Filmmakers Gillian Grisman and Monroe Grisman are now documenting its story in “Village Music: Last of the Great Record Stores.”

“This film will preserve a very unique and important slice of Americana music history. It’s a story about that needs to be told for future generations many of who are now growing up not knowing the experience of discovering music at a local record store and the human interactions involved in this,” Monroe Grisman said via e-mail.

According to Grisman, the shop was about more than just selling music. “It’s about community and the music that binds it and it is a shared experience between patrons and celebrity musicians alike.”

The documentary is also about more than just a music shop. Rather, it’s a story about the evolution of music formats over the last half-century, from LP’s to 8 tracks, to the Cassettes, the CD, and now digital downloads.

“This particular store was more than just a retail shop with records in it. It was also like a museum of music across many genres and eras of pop culture. The walls and ceilings and every inch of space was adorned with cool and very rare items collected by the store owner John Goddard over a 50 year period,” Grisman said.

John, he said, took his work above and beyond. He was a wealth of knowledge about music, and people would come to chat with him. Famous artists would stop in while on tour. “Or local regular customers like Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Garcia, Huey Lewis, or Sammy Hagar would come to have John turn them onto albums that they had not heard for new inspiration in their own song writing,” Grisman said.

Creating a film about Village Music was also an experience in itself. “I don’t think we realized or were prepared for the true depth of emotional out pouring that happened and that we were able to capture in this film,” Grisman said.

“Bettye Lavette telling her story from the stage at one of the tribute concerts about how her career was resurrected by John at one of his Christmas parties and then delivering a truly spectacular vocal performance with tears streaming down her face! So many people from all walks of life were really affected by this store and it really meant a lot to them,” he said.

Grisman noted that when the store closed its doors, “People made pilgrimages from around the world to pay one last visit to this store. It was an amazing experience to be along for the ride over the last 8 months of the stores existence and we captured it all.”

“This film truly is a labor of love for us as it is a story that needs to be told and shared with the world,” he said. “It is a story that all will be able to relate to (even if they are growing up now in the world of downloads and file sharing).”

Gillian and Monroe started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. The funding was successful, but those who want to contribute can still have a chance, before funding closes at 10:31 PST tonight.

[box_light]Images courtesy of Gillian Grisman and Monroe Grisman[/box_light]

About The Author

Joshua Philipp is the founder and editor of He's also an award-winning journalist at Epoch Times.

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