Community Records to host eighth annual celebration

Local indie record label Community Records is no stranger to going against the grain. Throughout its existence in a city dominated by brass bands and funk, the label has helped carve out a scene for punk, ska and dream-pop music and popularize vinyl and cassettes in the age of digital downloads. To celebrate its eighth year of homegrown music, the label is hosting two shows featuring local and touring bands this weekend at Hey! Cafe.

Community Records may be a massive local fixture today, but according to co-founder Daniel “D-Ray” Ray, the label began humbly as the small project of a few music marketing students at Loyola University New Orleans.

“Basically it started with the first Community Records compilation, with the idea of putting out a CD from our band and our friends’ [bands] around the country so that we could spread the word about all of our bands together,” Ray said. “From there it kind of just snowballed into putting out CDs for those bands, more compilations, and then eventually vinyl and the block party and everything.”

In its eight years, Community Records has expanded to offer a number of opportunities for its bands. The label is known for its annual block party that showcases local music, and also for its emphasis on physical format releases. Many of the bands that work with Community Records have the unique opportunity to release music on tapes and vinyl records — in fact, it’s arguable that the label is largely responsible for reigniting local interest in these formats. 

“There’s something nostalgic and it feels good to take that record out and put it on a turntable and have the artwork in such a huge 12-by-12 picture format,” Ray said. “When the cassette thing started to happen a few years ago, I was skeptical and didn’t really get it, because it’s not that great of an audio format. But then I found myself taking cassettes and putting them in the cassette player in the van or the cassette player that I have at the house.”

The shows this weekend boast lineups featuring relatively new talent, like surf-punk rockers Gland, but also Community Records mainstays like Pope, Woozy and Ray’s own band, All People. While All People does incorporate Ray’s trombone skills, the show’s pervading sounds will be much grittier and more guitar-oriented than most music one would expect from New Orleans.

“That was a thought from the beginning, to represent the whole underground scene from New Orleans, because it’s overflowing with the funk and the jazz stuff, and all that stuff is great and it comes from New Orleans,” Ray said. “But there is another scene here also, that lends itself to its surroundings in New Orleans and it’s really unique.”

Friday’s lineup starts at 8 p.m. with local bands Gland and All People, and Alabama group Black Hole Kids. Saturday’s lineup, also starting at 8 p.m., includes local bands Woozy and Pope, Texas artists Chipper Jones and Chris Lopex, and Pennsylvania band Scrap Kids.