David’s Music is an institution, tucked away in the most unassuming of provincial towns. Some sources claim there are more trees than people in Letchworth but that doesn’t stop people making their pilgrimages from far and wide to come and check the shop out.
Opened originally as a bookshop, it soon established itself as one of the UK’s leading independent stores. As well as selling new books, David’s advertised for used books and soon found people offering them second hand records to purchase. They were being offered more stock than the shop could sell. One day, in a moment of inspiration, they decided to hire a local warehouse and organise an auction to sell their surplus stock. These auctions became legendary with dealers travelling from all over Europe to attend.
In 1975 David’s moved into larger premises in a building that was previously the NatWest bank. By 1984 the business had stagnated, and David’s decided to inject some fresh blood into the staff. They appointed a young man named Andy Oaten to run the record shop and he is still there today.
He goes all weak at the knees if you mention The Smiths or Morrissey but don’t think he’s just an 80s-indie loving dandy. He knows most things about most kinds of music, including classical and jazz.
He is assisted by Ashlie Green who describes herself as Andy’s right-hand man. Although she’s a girl. Music-wise she’s all about cacophonous walls of noise, sixties pop gems, and psychedelic nuggets of days gone by. She also sits on ERA’s independent retailer board and Record Store Day panel.
The other members of staff making up the full complement are Katie Wheeler (film and TV buff, she takes care of the DVDs) and Josh Levitas (in charge of sheet music). They also have two stellar weekenders; Jasmine Oaten (nepotism aside, she’s an absolute gem) and Simeon May.
The business was bought by Paul Wallace in 2009 and he added a coffee shop that serves fabulous cakes and has been a huge success. My tip would be to attend one of the regular free events they hold. Manager Andy Oaten works tirelessly to bring calibre artists that have included Ash, Divine Comedy and The Thrills to the shop. Andy is always on the lookout for artists who have played London then the next gig is in Cambridge or Bedford. The shop is a perfect halfway house for an in-store gig. If you are an artist interesting in playing drop them a line.
If you have never visited the shop check out the website as they are regularly doing free in-store gigs. Arrive early and browse through the books and the vinyl then enjoy a coffee and cake before settling down to enjoy the entertainment. A wonderful way to spend a few hours!
I asked Ashlie about which forthcoming releases from Proper/Essential she was looking forward to:
All of us at the shop love Johnny Flynn, so we’re excited to hear his new album ‘Sillion’ (Transgressive) out on 24th March, always quality story telling & catchy choruses.
I’m looking forward to the new Pond record ‘The Weather’, (Marathon Artists) out on 5th May. Every album by Pond has been different, but always with the same raucous delivery and memorable hooks. This one is produced by friend and ex-Pond member Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) so no doubt it’ll be another belter.
Samantha Crain’s ‘You Had Me at Goodbye’ also out 24th March (Full Time Hobby) is another one we’re looking forward to hearing. If her solid back catalogue is anything to go by, then we’re in for another treat. Lastly, one of our favourites: Emily Barker! Her new album ‘Sweet Kind of Blue’ is out on 19th May (Everyone Sang). She was an absolute dream boat when she came and played at the shop a couple of years ago, and we’d love to have her back (hint hint)
I also asked about what is happening at David’s for Record Store Day:
We are complimented year on year about the way we do things on Record Store Day, something we take a lot of pride in. This year is no different, and we’re looking forward to another great day. We have some live acts already confirmed for the afternoon – Billy Doze (ex- David’s Music employee Will, mega talented songwriter), Pete Um (solo lo-fi troubadour, once supported Thom Yorke!) and Field Trip to the Moon (alternative two piece, getting some solid 6 music airplay).
If you would like to be Proper’s Featured Store, contact Graham Jones
Tel: 01462 475900
Vinyl, CD, DVD, Books, New & Second hand, Coffee, Food, In-stores
Monday – Friday: 9am – 7pm
Saturday: 9am – 6pm
Sunday: 10am – 5pm