That would indeed be Mr. Judge above, pictured in a particularly weak moment with Killer Mike of Run the Jewels during one of our in-stores at Schoolkids.
By Fred Mills
While I am not necessarily one to blow our own horn here — I usually let others do that for us, although come to think of it, those testimonials tend to be along the lines of “You guys blow!”… but I digress… — once in awhile it’s entirely appropriate, so allow me to get personal for just a moment and do just that.
About a week ago the Music Business Association announced that that the owners of a pair of respected independent record stores had been named to their official Board of Directors. And one of those owners is our own Stephen Judge, who operates Schoolkids Records in Raleigh, NC—that would be the same Stephen Judge who owns this very website as well as BLURT magazine, as well as Second Motion Records, which has released acclaimed titles from the likes of Tommy Keene, the Church, Bettie Serveert and the Parson Red Heads. Sharp-eyed readers will also recall that since early 2012 yours truly also worked at Schoolkids while simultaneously overseeing BLURT, and while I have just recently left the former due to relocating from Raleigh back to Asheville, that three years spent in the trenches with Stephen (plus, let’s share the wealth here, Matti, Dave, Tommy, Mary Frances and Kyle) have given me some of the best memories of my adult life.
I mean, how cool is it when the two of us can say we got to hang out with fuckin’ Killer Mike?!? And that’s just one of the many in-stores appearances and performances Stephen arranged for us. To say nothing of shepherding the semi-controlled chaos that has been Record Store Day, and helping steer the ascendancy of vinyl records back to their appropriate place of prominence in the hearts, minds and sweaty paws of music lovers. (Go HERE to the photos collection on the store’s Facebook page for some cheap thrills.)
At any rate, Stephen has busted his ass to make the store a success, so much so that he was able to open a second Schoolkids location earlier this year in nearby Durham. Being named to the Music Biz board, therefore, is not only a huge honor for him, it simply makes sense because he’s been involved in the music business for a lot longer than that. He’s joined by Bryan Burkert, owner of The Sound Garden, and as the Music Biz press release announcing their appointments, points out, between the two of them they “will bring nearly four decades of combined experience to the Board, providing key insights on issues facing the music industry.”
“We are thrilled to welcome two such experienced and versatile music industry professionals to our Board,” continued James Donio, President of Music Biz, in the release. “Stephen and Bryan have blazed their own trails through many different facets of the business at indie retail, record labels, artist management companies, music distribution companies, concert venues, and nightclubs, giving them a well-rounded and unique viewpoint on the issues of the day. We look forward to working with them as Music Biz continues to help build the future of music commerce.”
“I am honored to join the Music Biz Board and see this as the culmination of all the experience I have gained over the last 25 years,” said Judge. “In addition to running a retail store, I have years of experience in artist management, distribution, marketing, publishing, label management, A&R, contract negotiations, and finance. I’m looking forward to listening and learning from my fellow Board members while contributing in a meaningful way with my diverse experience.”
For my part, I’ve known Stephen in a number of capacities for a good deal longer than just my three years at Schoolkids. And his background is pretty impressive, including time spent working as a buyer and manager for Schoolkids back in the ‘90s, later working at Black Park Management and Redeye Distribution, and managing bands both prior to and after he started up Second Motion. He also bought BLURT in 2010, and sadly, it was downhill after that… just kiddin’, bro!
In short, it’s been a privilege— and a fuck of a bunch of fun! ask me about those day parties in Austin during SXSW each year—to know him, and I felt like the rest of the BLURT universe should know about this Music Biz honor. Those of us here at the BLURT penthouse suite are proud of the dude. Salute!
Blow our own horn? You’re goddam right we can. And should.
Fred Mills is the editor of Blurt. He loves vinyl even though he’s no longer working in a record store. Keep sending it to him.