It was only a matter of time until Jason Perlmutter opened up his own record store.
The 34-year-old Raleigh native has spent most of his adult life immersed in all things vinyl, specifically soul-based vinyl from the Carolinas.
“I had some awareness that there might be a lot of local soul music out there,” says Perlmutter, while sitting at Durham’s Beyu Caffe one Saturday afternoon. His love of soul music started when he was listening to oldies while attending Enloe High. That love led him to seek out those tunes when he went to UNC-Chapel Hill and started DJing at radio station WXYC. “I liked soul music. I was interested in the area that it came from. I just sort of kept going on looking for that stuff.”
Since then, Perlmutter has become a full-fledged Carolina soul archivist, blogging about regional rarities on his Carolina Soul website (carolinasoul.org) and playing them monthly on online radio site NTS (nts.live/shows/carolinasoul). He has also curated collections for labels, such as the “Carolina Funk” compilation for U.K.-based Jazzman, and aided in chronicling music and memorabilia for such projects as the Bull City Soul online exhibit (bullcitysoul.org).
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So it’s not surprising to find Perlmutter involved in the opening of Carolina Soul Records, a new record shop in downtown Durham.
For the past few weeks, the 700-square-foot store has been quietly open, with Perlmutter and a staff of fellow DJs/collectors selling a nice variety of vinyl: soul, jazz, rock, disco, reggae, blues, etc. The store is on East Main Street, which may seem like a prime bit of real estate for Durham soul nostalgists. Remember, downtown was once home to long-gone soul spots like the Your Own Thing Theater and the record stores Snoopy’s and Record Bar. Even though Perlmutter says he was merely looking for a location that could fit all his findings, he does enjoy that he’s smack dab in the middle of Durham soul history.
“It’s cool to have a space that connects to the past history of the area and, indeed, a lot of the soul music that was made in Durham was distributed out of very nearby parts of downtown,” he says.
Perlmutter was actually in the record-selling business long before he went the brick-and-mortar route. Along with putting discs up for grabs over on eBay, which he’s been doing for five years, he also co-founded the Chapel Hill label Paradise of Bachelors, which traffics in re-releasing lost, obscure music. For a while there, it seemed like those who knew Perlmutter had to force him to just open a store already. “I would say that they had to convince me,” he says. “And then, finally, it became a thing where you had to convince me not to.”
Friday is the official grand opening of Carolina Soul Records, and Perlmutter and company will celebrate by spinning tunes down the street at the Pinhook during a free dance party. Even though Perlmutter has a loyal following of crate-digging consumers all over the globe, he wants to hip locals to the vast treasure trove of music that was made right here, in their home state.
“We’re trying to connect with a community that we’re, perhaps, flying under the radar of at the moment,” he says. “Not only by offering records for sale that may be of interest to the community, but also seeing what comes of just being open, of having a place to connect with people, of developing relationships and the fun things that happen at record stores.”
What: Carolina Soul Records Grand Opening Dance Party
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: The Pinhook, 117 W. Main St., Durham
Info: 919-667-1100 or thepinhook.com