Ace In The Hole Music Exchange (1153 Kenny Centre, inside the Kenny Centre shopping plaza, right by the corner of Kenny & Henderson Rds. / 614-457-5666) is closing its doors for good on Saturday, March 18th, 2017. You should go there before it does.
Owner/proprietor Mike "Pepe" Depew has kept Ace In The Hole going since 1995 - virtually single-handedly for the past seven years - but the crushing economic realities of keeping an indie record store afloat in our current downloadable music culture has made continuing the venture impossible. (see store hours and closing-week discount schedule below)
I worked at Ace In The Hole for nine years in the first decade of this 21st century, 2001-2010. I lived a pretty clichéd rocker existence that decade: I played action-packed acoustic solo rock & roll gigs; I served as road manager for Hamell On Trial, a punk-blast of MC 5-derived acoustic energy; halfway through the decade I signed on as merch guy & guitar tech for Watershed (and later for Colin’s spinoff bands, The League Bowlers and The Lonely Bones); and in between all that touring my day job was at Ace In The Hole Music.
I can’t tell you how cool that day job was. Essentially I was getting paid to hang out and listen to music for eight hours a day, while talking ABOUT MUSIC to various strangers, friends & acquaintances who dropped into the store, both of which I WOULD HAVE DONE FOR FREE!!! Other than a very short stint at Camelot Music right before Ace In The Hole, I had spent 25 years of my life working on receiving docks and in warehouses, unloading trucks and humping freight about for 40 bone-crunching/soul-destroying hours a week; BELIEVE ME, working in an indie record store work was better.
Plus I can’t tell you the number of good friends I made at that store: a local cancer physician, who – due to his rather retiring nature – I’m guessing would rather remain nameless here, who has subsequently become my sister’s oncologist as she battles cancer, and whose friendship has made that entire process SO MUCH EASIER; local rocker (and current Nashville émigré) Erica Blinn, whom I met when she was in her early teens when her dad – Ace In The Hole regular Jerry Blinn, bassist of the fine, fine, superfine West Side rocker elite Black Leather Touch – brought her into Ace, where she later became an employee; and, crucially, Joe Peppercorn – leader & master songwriter of first Mrs. Children, later The Whiles, still later the mastermind & driving force of the annual Beatles Marathon, perhaps Columbus’ finest yearly musical throwdown.
I met Joe one chilly Monday morning after I had co-hosted Invisible Hits Hour – Curt Schieber’s long-running Sunday night CD 101/102.5 record review show – the night before. Joe came into the store – all but twisting a cloth cap in his hands like a character out of some Dickens novel – and said, “Are you the guy who was on Invisible Hits Hour last night?” (I continually plugged my employment at Ace In The Hole on the show: why waste an hour of free advertising?) “Did you like the show?” I asked back at him. “Yeah, it was great.” he replied. “Then yeah, that was me,” I said, brightening. “What were you going to say if I didn’t like the show?” Joe asked, meeting my eyes for the first time in the entire shyness-slanted conversation. “I was gonna say it was the white-haired guy who owns the store,” I said, “the last thing I need is little assholes coming in here and berating me because I badmouthed their favorite 311 record, and I can’t walk away from ‘em, because I’m at work.”
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
There’s so much more about my nine years at Ace I’d like to get into: Watershed playing a great gig in the parking lot of the store on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon back in 2002, when The More It Hurts, The More It Works was brand new, YEARS before they ever became my employers (maybe Colin will write about that separately this week); the fact that Jim Johnson – ace drummer of various Willie Phoenix bands through the years & decades – was our record distributor throughout my employment and remains in that position to this day (plus he got me my job at the store, that’s a cool story in itself); but all that has to wait for a later blog, ‘cuz here’s what you have got to know RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!
Ace In The Hole is open this week and next week Tuesday through Friday 11 am-7 pm; Saturday 11am-5 pm; and Sunday March 12th from noon to 2 pm or so, whenever the traffic and the conversation run out. Final business day is Saturday March 18th, 2017. All used CD’s in the store are 50% off; vinyl records $6 and under are 50% off (and, you’d best believe me, there’s still a BUNCH of great, cheap vinyl left in the store, I got that Brotherhood album – offshoot band of Paul Revere & the Raiders – for 50 cents last week, among others); vinyl $7-$30 is 20% off, and vinyl over $30 (and there’s some gems in that price range still there, too) is 30% off. You really should go in and drop some cash, you could do much worse stuff with your time and your disposable music money until the 18th. – Ricki C. / March 6th, 2017. `
National Record Store Day, April 18th, 2009: Colin plays music, future Pencilstorm movie critic Rob Braithwaite reads the paper, local singer/songwriter John Vincent watches and waits for his turn to play.....