There are hundreds of ways to discover music across competing social media platforms right now, and we want to help make the process easier. Many record collectors are sharing their latest finds and highlights from their personal collections on Instagram, and each month our own IG record blogger @lostrpm spotlights one account he admires in hopes of turning you on to something you may not have heard before. We call it #NoFilter.
When I first came across B. Cook’s @lonestarstomp Instagram account last year, one thing was apparent: dude knows and appreciates good music.
Specializing in hard-to-come-by small label rockabilly, garage, Latin, and soul 45s, the abridged audio snippets of his unique record collection accompanied by detailed label pics never cease to amaze me.
What makes this account even more special in my opinion though, is that Cook finds most of the records he posts out in the wild. That is, he’s a dedicated record digger, getting his hands dirty on a weekly basis at flea markets, garage sales, and junk shops.
I caught up with @lonestarstomp to get the inside scoop on digging records in his home area of West Texas, and any advice he has for someone looking to get into record collecting.
VMP: Tell us a little bit about yourself
@lonestarstomp: I'm a teacher out here in west Texas. I enjoy the road, trails, tacos, Dr Pepper, and records of course.
When did you start collecting records and why?
I started in college in Abilene, Texas back in the mid-’90s. Whatever extra money I had, I spent on records that I read about in fanzines or picked up at shows. Here and there I would grab a 45 or LP at a thrift store, and there was a local record shop I'd stop at from time to time. I was just crazy about music then, regardless of the format. I was also nuts about rockabilly at the time.
It was when I moved out west and started teaching that my collecting really started to take off. I didn’t know anybody, and in a metro area of 200,000 people there didn't appear to be another soul with my interests, so driving around looking for records and vintage clothing became a distraction. It was my thing.
Early on I found a guy named Al at the local flea market. Al had thousands upon thousands of records. I had never seen that many in one place. I spent a lot of money on Saturday afternoons at Al’s over the years. Sounds from the 40s, 50s, and 60s were becoming a bigger deal to me, and I started paying attention to labels with a Texas address on them, especially West Texas.
What is your specialty in collecting? (genre, format, etc.)
I love finding small label 45s from the 50s and 60s - rockabilly, country, soul, instrumentals, garage and the like. The releases I really obsess over are records with a West Texas or East New Mexico connection.
How many records are in your collection?
5,000? 10,000? Probably somewhere in between. Mostly 45s.
Where are your favorite places to dig?
I'm not really a house call guy. The closest record store is over 150 miles away, so it's mainly junk shops and estate sales when I have time. Probably not cool to say, but eBay really helps in chasing down actual wants. If I'm paying more than a few bucks for a record it's because it's a Chicano thing out of El Paso or it fills a hole in my collection. I would rather find records in the wild, but it's so easy to type label names in the search. I really don't spend more than $10 on a record unless it's a local thing.
Give us your craziest digging story
Most recently I got a lead on a hoarder who had tins full of 45s in a closet. The guy who gave me the lead had already been in the house, and said he was too creeped out to finish looking at everything. I decided to check it out and was greeted by a wide-eyed lady who informed me that the homeowner wasn’t in, but it would be okay if I came in and looked at the records anyway. I was then greeted by her friend, who was trying to pull up a pair of overall shorts with one hand.
At best, there were 50-60 ground up 45s there. I found a couple, but felt sketched out the whole time. I couldn’t shake from my mind the thought of what had been going on in that house before I knocked on the door. It looked more like a meth squatter’s pad than a hoarder’s house, so I paid up and lit out.
I went back and thanked the guy for the meth lead and told him the story. Later on, he told me that the homeowner had contacted him, and the sketchy people I dealt with had never given the homeowner the cash. Dumb me, I left them my number in hopes of more records turning up… I’m still waiting for that 1 am call asking if I would like to party.
Best one, though… 10 years ago my wife and I were sitting at a drive-thru over in Midland, TX and she pointed across the street to a Tejano music shop and asked if I’d ever been in there. I had never noticed it before, but had visions of racks full of badly bootlegged norteño cds.
A few months later I was back in Midland on a Christmas gift-buying errand, and got distracted by the thought of that Tejano shop. I decided to check it out, and when I walked in I saw racks and racks of LPs and 45s. The walls were covered with framed 8X10 promos of Tejano groups from all over Texas.
What are your top 3-5 favorite records you own?
Hezie Johnson – “Wedding Bells Are Ringing In My Dream World” b/w “Muddy Mississippi River Blue” (Hezie Johnson Record Co.) Wild stream of consciousness hillbilly rambling by a cat from South Carolina. I found the 45 with a promo business card of Hezie standing in front of his car holding a glass 2 liter bottle of his favorite sodie pop. “Hezie With New Cadillac, Ready To Tour World!” it says.
Knights Bridge – “Make Me Some Love” / “C. J. Smith” (Sea Ell) Fantastic throbbing garage psych from out here in Odessa, TX. It was recorded when these guys were in high school, but the band on the record was only around for 6 months or so. The end of the school year hit, leaving the newly released record pretty much untouched. I have tracked down and talked to so many people who played in that band, or at least claimed to. Trying to put together the story wore me out.
Joseph Brunelle – “Round To It” (NoMountain Records) I searched for this one for a bit because of descriptions I read about the track “Highways of Your Mind”… some sorta trance folk psych thing. It’s from the town of Midland, TX just west of us and was recorded in the early 80s.
Jim Sullivan – “UFO” (Century City Records) I’ll likely never find the original Monnie release of the LP, but I pulled the Century City remix out of a Half Price Books in Round Rock, Texas 7-8 years ago. AMAZING album. Incredible songwriting, beautiful studio work by the Wrecking Crew out of LA, and Jim’s earthy voice. The follow up record on Playboy gets little love, but I dig that one, too.
Circus – “Bad Seed” / “Burn Witch Burn” (Offe) Tough record to find. Mine came from the band leader and was salvaged from a flood. This single was recorded in Albuquerque in the mid 60s with Bobby Fuller’s old drummer and then released in Odessa at the same time that a band he had called the Circus was breaking up. Great story. And the record is punk as all get outs.
What advice do you have for the next generation of record diggers?
Don’t believe the whole “records are drying up” bit. The records are out there. Go find ‘em. The guys that work it really hard find really good records, but there’s a certain amount of “right place at the right time” timing involved as well. Some people ALWAYS seem to be in the right place at the right time. I’m a bit too lazy to really get after it.
Give us 5 record-centric IG handles we should be following:
@jasonchronis He doesn’t post often, but when he does, his finds it makes you want to throw in the towel.
@dave_salvaje West coast cat that has an amazing collection of Mexican rock n’ roll.
@dothe45 Feller from Memphis that usually posts one record label a day. Always interesting. Nice guy as well.
@Ibuyandsmellrecords and @lord_highpockets are the same person. He’s another Texas cat and his collection knocks me out on a weekly basis.
@777_333_777 Japanese collector. Lots of incredible rockabilly, hillbilly bop, and R&B with sound.