Third Man Pressing Plant Party Was a "Ya'Alta" Like Event

Jack White marked the opening of his new Third Man Pressing plant in a reinvigorated Detroit neighborhood by throwing a grand, festive, sometimes rowdy rock'n'roll (semi-formal attire requested) party. Among the invited "F.O.V.s" (Friends of Vinyl) were most of the owners of America's major and minor pressing plants. The gathering was probably the first time all of these once battered, now thriving survivors of the fading CD era assembled in one place to celebrate the unlikely resurgence of vinyl records.

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,
TheBoogeyDown

COMMENTS
Auric G's picture

so exactly when do you have time to listen to vinyl?? (j.k.) Looks like everyone had a blast. I can only hope Jack White is as committed to sound quality and craftsmanship as Chad Kassem.

shawnwes's picture

Looks like a fun night. Would have loved to have heard the conversation with United's boss. Did you prod him about quality issues?

I'm wondering if you will be doing an in depth article on the Viryl Technologies Warm Tone automatic presses being manufactured in Canada? Apparently there is a plant in Texas that has some running now.

parman's picture

I noticed there was a shot from inside a recording booth and there were tapes rolling while recording. Does someone manufacture new magnetic tape?
PS did you get to bring home a cool stash of swag Michael?

Michael Fremer's picture
We were given one record (played on today's AnalogPlanet radio show) and I bought three to show support and love
Jack Gilvey's picture

I take Michael's thoughtful, well-written write-ups for granted by now, but didn't expect same from a randomly-chosen guest. Glad you got to go!

Roy Martin's picture

Mr. TheBoogeyDown knows how to listen, how to write, and is obviously a gentleman. I heartily second Jack Gilvey's comment: Glad you got to go, you were the right man for the job.

Bagels and lox? In Detroit? What a wonderful world!

alucas's picture

looks like you both had a good time and...Love The Tie!

AndreC.'s picture

Michael you have to build up a "TV/Video-Team" for more of the stuff like in the last days. Thanks for Rega, Dragon, Brown and Third Man.

Rudy's picture

It's considered a good night in Detroit if a person doesn't get mugged, shot at or car-jacked. ;) I couldn't attend the Saturday festivities but am making a point to head down there during the week to check it out. Hopefully they will still have some of those yellow vinyl MC5 and Stooges pressings available. It is great to see all the pics of the vinyl production folks all in one place, especially considering that they are to some extent competitors. It is good reason to celebrate, though--even beyond Third Man, the whole vinyl industry is booming. Given the backlog in vinyl pressing worldwide, Third Man should be able to operate at capacity for a long time coming.

bannvph00701's picture

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simon285's picture
simon285's picture
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vouchercoupon's picture

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meal5's picture

Chatting with guys like Michael and Chad, listening to their first impressions and opinions of what they were seeing was great.
Thanks and Regards!
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TOOL's picture

When do they start making rotary phones?

panistefanin's picture

Pleasant, positive people! Thanks for the article, very interesting))
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letuyetlam's picture

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