Dr. Disc 20 Wilson Street

While I didn’t actually get out and about during this year’s Record Store Day, I fittingly stopped by Dr. Disc the week of, as they were prepping for the big day. A classic Hamilton landmark in our rich music scene, it’s about time the record store became an official tour stop! Dr. Disc celebrated its 20th anniversary last July (check out The Spectator’s piece, chronicling the store’s history). At the time, this was only a couple of months into our Tour, and I remember Avishka, Jenny, and myself exploring James Street North on the hot summer night of July’s Art Crawl, and catching part of a rooftop concert at Dr. Disc, which was part of their anniversary celebrations. We stood in the warm evening sun, listening to the music, and then, sporting our summer Tour t-shirts, of course, we took a few shots posing by Dr. Disc’s graffiti-filled outside wall.

Now here I am, almost a year later, visiting the store and getting to sit down for a chat with the Doc, himself, Mark Furukawa. I also later realized that The Spec’s piece on Dr. Disc hit stands just five days before our own front-page feature. How’s that for full circle?

I even got a peak at Dr. Disc’s roof, which offers a fantastic panoramic view of James Street North below (and a clear shot of one of our favourites – Mex-I-Can!) We sat down to lunch and chatted about all things Hamilton. It’s an incredibly exciting time here – so many people I’ve been speaking with can feel it – and we were quick to share what we love about the City and compare notes, running through our favourite spots in Hamilton and memories of the City. Among those included our favourite restaurants. Mark considers himself a foodie, which made me recount how indecisive I am when it comes to menus. Luckily, no decisions had to be made on this day, as Mark whipped up quite the spread along with his famous paninis.

With 20+ years of experience at Dr. Disc, I had to ask Mark about his impressions of Hamilton’s music scene, and he expressed the same thought as we’ve found, which is that overwhelming sense of community that you encounter everywhere you go, in speaking with musicians and going to shows. Although we don’t have the music scenes of other cities to compare it to, you can just feel something so special here. The music community is so supportive of each other, and we’ve definitely witnessed that throughout our Tour, as music becomes more and more vital to the core of it.

Keeping with the theme of Hamilton’s sense of community, Mark and I also talked about the City’s passionate and enthusiastic online community. When we started our Tour, we Tourists had no idea that Hamilton has such an exciting and tight-knit online world, which we’ve found on Twitter, in particular. We have connected with so many people through the social media tool, many whom we’ve ended up meeting in person and now consider friends. The social media side of things (with emphasis on the social aspect) is something Mark has really delved into recently, through Dr. Disc’s Twitter page. Along with communicating with people in the City, answering their questions, retweeting up a storm, and chatting back and forth, Mark has set up useful hashtags to make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for. Search #DrDiscTICKETS to find out when concert tickets are being sold and #DrDiscLOCAL for the Doc’s daily local music feature.

Dr. Disc is making a move toward a stronger focus on vinyl – I could see there was a lot more out on display, in relation to CDs, than the last time I had dropped in, to buy some tickets to a show at Casbah. Although I’m not a vinyl collector, I’m thrilled that vinyl sales have gone up in recent years and to see that music lovers’ passion for compiling solid vinyl collections is alive and well. I didn’t leave the store empty-handed, however; I bought a copy of Dinner Belles’ CD West Simcoe County, a local band we’ll be checking out soon.

Another major aspect to the store is DJ equipment. Mark has a long history as a DJ, and along with the help from staff who are up-to-speed on all the latest technology in DJing, the back of the store is stocked with all kinds of equipment you need to get spinning.

It was a fun day – really inspiring to meet another local personality who is so passionate about what they do and about this city. Making these connections has been a very rewarding part of our Tour.

– Kristin

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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