"We're closing. I'm just out of mone." So said Carolyn Tipton, matter-of-factly, about why she's shuttering The Muse, the record store cum art gallery in North Park that Tipston's owned since last September. The Muse has been a vital part of San Diego's scene, staging in-store concerts as well as successful art exhibits headed by curator Tim McCormick and members of his Radioactive Future collective.
Tipton admits that she didn't have the capital to fund the store when she opened, but she hoped things would take off with advertising and word of mouth. When burglars broke her storefront window in the first month and robbed her of box sets and other merchandise, however, it was a hit from which she couldn't recover.
"Even though I was advertising, people couldn't find my space because it was boarded up," she said. "I didn't even have enough money to get the new window.
"[And] it's just the economy. It's bad right now. Even my regular customers have come in and said that their hours have been cut at work and they'd like to buy a certain record but they only have so much spending money."
Tipton explained that she should've had enough startup money to cover a year's worth of overhead. Ideally, profits would be used for reinvestment.
"All my money had to go into paying bills instead of buying new product. So people would come in looking for new releases and I wouldn't have them. I understand why they were disappointed."
Tipton said the store has been in money trouble since last December. Regular customers offered to stage benefit shows to keep her open, but, she laughed, "you can't have a benefit show for a retail store."
In the past few months, she had entertained talks with potential buyers to keep the art-and-music space going. She said Ken Costa, owner of Carlsbad's Spin Records (and Tipton's former business partner-she owned the Oceanside location of Spin before buying The Muse), offered to buy the space, but couldn't do anything until after Christmas. That would be too late.
Tipton thought she had sealed a deal with Curtis Casella, owner of Taang Records. "[He] had said he wanted to buy it," she explained. "So I do the inventory and get back to him and then he would never return the call. I think he just wanted my space; he didn't want my stock. I can understand that, but it was almost a done deal."
The closing has "been coming for a while," said McCormick, who had considered buying the space and preserving it as an art gallery. "We had no stability there. Art shows you have to plan a year in advance. That part of it's been a bummer. It was kind of a losing venture in some ways, but a winning venture in others."
Within the next few months, McCormick will be opening a new gallery in Golden Hill with two partners (at their request, CityBeat withheld their names and the specifics of the venture).
Without a music-related buyer, Tipton has sold the space to the owner of Chester's furniture store, which is located next door.
"They just increased his rent by over $2,000," she said. "He's been there 20 years. He took over my lease, took over the back rent for me and he's just going to move into the smaller space."
Liquidation sales have already begun; Tipton is selling her new releases at $1 above cost and is looking for anyone to buy the racks and assorted infrastructure of the store. The final business day for The Muse is Dec. 26.
As for her future plans, Tipton is currently taking paralegal courses at UCSD and hopes to work for a law firm upon getting her degree.
"It was an OK experience," she said of operating The Muse. "I'm still breathing. Just kind of have to start over again. Everyone was really nice. I met a lot of people [who are] so into music and art.
"Now the seed's been planted and I think someone will come in and do the same thing."
It's gold and shiny
It's been quite a week for David Peck, the man behind Mira Mesa-based video archive company, Reelin' in the Years. His mom turned 75. He got engaged. Then he and fellow producer Jon Kanis became Grammy nominees. They are nominated in the "Best Long Form Music Video" category for producing The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 DVD, which captures exceedingly rare European TV appearances from such blues legends as Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters.
"Even though we knew we were in consideration, it was still a shock," Peck said.
"I don't think it's really hit me yet," added Kanis. "Every day a little more creeps in. There isn't a single person that once nominated isn't proud of the accomplishment."
Ironically, Peck's company was part of the development of two of the entries he's competing against. He even provided film clips to one of them.
"Awards are nice and all that," Peck said. "It's nice to see that great music is still being acknowledged, but what really makes me happy is that now future generations will be able to find this rare footage."
Upcoming projects from the company include work on the impending George Harrison box set, a DVD reissue of the Soul to Soul '70s festival and a third volume of the American Folk Blues Series.
While Jason Mraz was one of the celebrities announcing the nominees at the Grammy press conference last week, he wasn't actually nominated for anything. He was, however, seen on every news and entertainment show worldwide. Tom Waits was the only other person with a San Diego connection to be nominated. Waits is nominated for his cover of the Ramones tune "Return Of Jack and Judy." Sibling pop duo The Troys are also listed as one of the six artists (along with Hilary Duff and Liz Phair) who add up to the production credits for The Matrix nominated for "Producer of the Year."
Local jazzpunkers The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower will be featured in Alternative Press' "Top 100 Bands to Watch in 2004" special edition next month.
The Teeth held a release party for their debut full-length on Pure Noise Forever, We Will Kill You. The album, recorded by Gar Wood, is available at the band's website, www.the teethkill.com.
Buckfast Superbee has two songs included on the new Major League Baseball (MLB) Slugfest 2004 game out on Playstation 2, x box and Game Cube. Reportedly, one track is for the opening scene and the other is a homerun song.
Last week, Locals Only incorrectly identified the new ex-Lovelight Shine, ex-Convoy project Dirty Sweet as "Dirty Sweden." CityBeat regrets the error-and, T-Rex aside, still thinks the misnomer was a pretty hot band name, too.