Rock Bottom Records in Portsmouth, NH
Wax Trax in Denver, CO
Yamachiku in Katamachi, Kanazawa, Japan
That Katamachi shop is where I realized I actually knew a lot music. I met my friend Maikeru there one evening and we just hung out and went through all the bins, holding up cool albums to each other and playing the "do you know this one?" game. After a couple of hours of this he mentioned that he was really impressed with how much I knew. The reason his comment made such an impression on me was because he's about 15 years older than me, grew up in S. California and lived that 70s rock and roll lifestyle there and he's a much more talented musician than I am. He really knows his shit.
I think that was also the night he told me he had gone back to playing guitar after a long time away from it. He had left it behind because the scene that went along with it at the time was one that would've killed him eventually. Not exactly like Beethoven's 9th in A Clockwork Orange, but maybe something like that. I mean he threw the baby out with the bath water by thinking that the music was part of the problem. If you're doing it because you love it and because it's in you then it can't be a problem, just a joy and something that makes life worthwhile.
It was so cool to see the power music can have in a person's life. He's one of the people who has helped me understand that feeling what you're playing is what it's all about.