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Purple Narwhal Music & Manga

Purple Narwhal Music & Manga

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

In collaboration with Kaneshii Vinyl Press

Who are you and your current job : 

My name is Will FitzHugh and my wife is Alice Goldberg-FitzHugh. Most of my career I have worked in the biotechnology industry writing software for biomedical research. Alice is an artist and graphic designer. A few years ago we thought of opening a brick and mortar store and decided to combine my interest in music and her interest in Asian comics and animation into one store. We started with our collections of CDs, records, DVDs, and manga and started buying more. It took us about 3 years to get enough stock to open the store.


In which city are you located?

Rockville, Maryland, which is about 10 miles outside of Washington, DC.


What musical styles do you specialize in?

We carry all styles of music, from rock/pop to jazz to classical to R&B/hip-hop to heavy metal. Will plays guitar in a punk band called MEATBOT so we try to keep as much punk rock in stock as possible, including local music from classic DC punk bands like Fugazi, Bad Brains, and Government Issue. We also try to carry a lot of music related to our manga and anime stock, like anime soundtracks and K-pop and J-pop.


Can you give a small tour of the music scene in your town?

Rockville is a suburb of Washington, DC, so most of the music scene in downtown. There are some great music venues in DC. Some are big like 9:30 Club and the Black Cat where you can see well-known acts. Some are small, like the Pinch or Velvet Lounge, where lesser-known bands can get gigs. DC has bands in lots of genres, although I am most familiar with our vibrant punk and alternative rock scene.


What’s it like working in a record shop? 

It’s fun to be able to see people of all ages come in and buy both new and old music. And it’s great to be able to learn from people who have spent a lifetime listening to music. 


What mind-blowing album are you listening right now?

Muddy Waters ‘Folk Singer’ is a classic blues album from 1964 played on acoustic instruments, with Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Buddy Guy. Stripped-down and powerful.


What does it take for an indie record shop to survive? 

So far we’ve only been in business for a year and a half, but I’d say it takes getting the word out to those people who are most interested in records, and it involves finding a way to stock a good mix of old and new music, both new and used.


What does Record Store Day, mean to you and your business?

Record Store Day is our biggest day of the year for selling records, and it’s a great opportunity for new people to find out about us.


Tips for musicians launching an album?

Do a good job on social media and don’t be afraid to give away digital music so people can hear you before they buy records, CDs or tapes.


5 local musician/bands to check out!

The Obsessed are long-time doom metal pioneers who are still putting out great new music.

Sunshine Hysteria is a young alternative rock band with high energy and passion.

Boat Burning sometimes plays concerts with up to 100 guitarists – they play tribal heavy instrumental rock.

Wreck the System play hip hop, often about gaming and comic conventions – they call themselves nerdcore rap.

The Split Seconds are a bunch of young guys who play old school punk rock. |


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