For Bernard Jones, Slow Burn Records is more than just a place to buy music; it’s a hub for artists, locals and visitors to gather and celebrate northwest Montana’s vibrant music scene.
“As much as it’s about the vinyl records, it’s more about having a safe haven for artists to come and spend time,” Jones said. “People are excited about it.”
Jones is the general manager of the new record store, which replaced local favorite Spanky’s and Gus after the shop closed its doors last year. When Slow Burn’s owners Mike and Dyan Colby heard Spanky’s planned on closing, they couldn’t imagine the city losing its only record store. The couple purchased the Spanky’s storefront — along with its record collection — in early 2021 and set out on revamping the space.
“The store means a lot to Mike and Dyan,” Slow Burn’s Director of Operations Madde Borg said. “They’re passionate about music and when they saw [Spanky’s] was going out of business, they didn’t want to see it leave the community.”
While the Colbys fully remodeled the store before reopening it as Slow Burn in April, it maintains the eclectic and community-centered energy that Spanky’s once cultivated. Records of all genres line the bright, open storefront, which is decorated with bespoke furniture, musical instruments and neon signage. Customers can pop in a record at one of the store’s six listening stations, which allow music lovers to explore the wide-ranging collection.
Jones says the collection has everything from “soundtracks to new wave to country to hip-hop, reggae and classic rock.” The general manager keeps a running spreadsheet with every record customers request and frequently sources new music ideas from around the area.
“Every day, we’re trying to add new stuff,” Jones said.
While vinyl records are hard to come by in the age of Spotify and Apple Music, Jones says he has seen a renewed interest from young people in the old-fashioned way of listening to albums.
“It gives people an alternative to experiencing music on their phones, where you have algorithms that steer you in this direction or that direction,” he said.
Records, he added, allow listeners to explore albums and artists they may have never heard of, if not for just pulling the vinyl from one of the store’s shelves.
In addition to its extensive record collection, Slow Burn hosts regular performances by local artists. Hannah King, nationally award-winning fiddle player, performed at Slow Burn every Tuesday in June. Borg says the store is looking forward to welcoming a variety of other artists on Tuesday nights throughout the summer, which will coincide with the Whitefish Farmers Market.
Slow Burn will held its grand opening on Thursday, July 7 at noon. Slow Burn is open from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturdays (open until 8 p.m. during Farmers Market), noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays and is closed on Mondays.
Beyond selling records, Jones is excited for Slow Burn to add to the lively music community that has long defined the area. “It’s going to be a great time.It’s going to be a celebration of the resurgence of local music in Whitefish and the Flathead Valley.”
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