Third Man Pressing Plant Party Was a "Ya'Alta" Like Event
Scan the room and if you knew who they were, you could see URP's Mark Michaels (with whom I had an excellent conversation), RTI's Don MacInnis, Rainbo's Steve Sheldon, QRP's Chad Kassem and Gotta Groove's Matt Earley (sales and marketing). Also partying were Zane Howard and Michael Thomas of pressing machine start-up Second Line Vinyl. No doubt the folks from Detroit's Archer Record Pressing were there too, but I don't know them.
Among the others I spotted and spoke with were Stoughton Press's Jack Stoughton, Jr., and Rob Maushund, QRP's plating guru Gary Salstrom, PVC supplier to the vinyl stars Casey Gibson and Nashville Record Productions' mastering engineers George Ingram (G/NRP) and his protegé Wes Garland (WG/NRP).
Of course there were hundreds of others I didn't know and couldn't identify, including local musicians and members of the press. Oh, and in from Germany was Newbuilt's Burnd Blunk, who you'll "meet" in the video. I also met and spoke with Eddie Gillis, the plant's production manager (and Jack White's brother) who recognized me from my YouTube videos.
When Chad Kassem and Don MacInnis spotted the pressing plant's innovative stacked record 'serving platter' both exclaimed "Now, why didn't I think of that?" One reason may be that unlike them, Eddie Gillis is a former pastry chef! I didn't ask, but I bet that was his idea.
Also attending was my +1 contest winner AKA "The Boogey Down" (that's he in the lead photo with me and Jack White--see his comment below). He was great company and mixed easily with everyone so it all worked out well! No doubt much credit for the great mix of people goes to Third Man's Ben Blackwell, who I first met at last spring's Music Biz conference. He's also founder of Cass Records, a member of the band The Dirtbombs and the official White Stripes archivist.
The bars were open, the food mix was eclectic and in abundance and looked tasty (I had a big Brussel Sprout salad next door before the event to avoid later pigging out and it worked even better than anticipated). While we talked, drank and ate, records were pressed (there are eight presses that in total can output 5000 records per eight hour shift), jackets were silkscreened and stuffed and bands played on the stage between the store area and the pressing plant. Off to one side other musicians played in the studio and were recorded to analog tape.
At the end of the evening Ben Blackwell gave a rousing toast followed by a closing capper from his uncle Jack White. What a great night! So glad to have been invited. Saturday "The Boogey Down" and I visited an AnalogPlanet reader in a Detroit suburb who invited us for breakfast. Was a great spread of smoked fish and bagels after which we listened to tunes on a super stereo with two of our host's friends who are accomplished audiophile veterans. Three swell fellows showed us a great time!
Enjoy the party video below but first, here are some photos and then "The Boogey Down"'s comment:
Ben Blackwell with Michael Fremer
RTI's Don MacInnis, MF and NRP's Wes Garland
Don MacInnis, QRP's Chad Kassem, Jack White, Casey Gibson and Gary Salstrom
From "The Boogey Down":
“Best night of my life.” That’s a big line to drop from a guy that has a beautiful wife and two amazing children, so out of respect for them, I won’t. But damn if it wasn’t close. Listen, any hobby involves a bit of geekdom and study that is not afforded the casual spectator. So when one gets to sit and have dinner with the fellow (I guess he means me_ed.), that for anyone reading this already agrees, is a big reason why Jack White just opened a record pressing plant, you are HAVING A MOMENT.
I, you see, was the very lucky winner of Michael Fremer and Analog Planet’s “Third Man +1 Pressing Party” contest and as such was fortunate to attend this invite-only event.
Just being able to talk about all things vinyl with Michael was a treat unto itself, but as anyone who currently, or specifically, grew up studying every detail and word on a record and it’s jacket as a kid, meeting the guys that actually make some of your favorite, highest quality records was, simply wonderful.
The evening began with a quick bite to eat with Michael and then a quick stint on the waiting line to get in. At which point I’m immediately introduced to Chad Kassem, owner of Acoustic Sounds and Quality Record Pressings, Gary Salstrom, general manager of Quality Record Pressings, Don MacInnis, owner of Record Technology Incorporated and Casey Gibson, of Thai Plastic and Chemicals. All wonderful, friendly gentleman who together are a huge percentage of the greatest qualities the LP industry has to offer. I don’t take it for granted that I am at the epicenter of the vinyl universe at this moment. Bliss.
I won’t rehash or duplicate Michael’s coverage, but I will say that The Cass Corridor Third Man facility, with it’s part record store, part venue, part pressing plant combination, is a site to behold. With it’s almost Lego-like use of primary colors and bright and shiny attributes, it is both unique, magical and a ton of fun.
Chatting with guys like Michael and Chad, listening to their first impressions and opinions of what they were seeing was great. Chad’s observation, that while hand-made might not be the most economical, that they were certainly doing things “the right way,” should be encouraging for all of us. As I write this, my humble (I know where I am folks) initial observation listening to the special pressings offered to Friday night and Saturday’s attendees is that the 180g pressings are flat, wonderfully quiet and dynamic (with cool silk screened jackets to boot!).
Jack White and Third Man invited all the the folks noted above and others that play such a huge role in the vinyl industry as a very well deserved hat tip. A group that he is clearly aspiring to be a part of, and succeeding. The fact that they rolled out the red carpet and even gave away one of their new pressings, The Johnson Spiritual Singers’ Don’t Let The Devil Ride as a parting gift confirmed one thing for certain, they’ve got class!
A monumental, heartfelt thank you to Michael. I hope it’s clear that I had an amazing night. Now I just need to sort out whether it was cooler meeting Jack White, Chad Kassem or Michael.
What a thrill,