First Look: Hill & Dale
Shauna | Feb 4, 2014 | 11:30AM |

As a music lover, it’s hard not to get excited about the opening of Hill & Dale, a new record store in Georgetown by the C&O Canal opening on February 7. The space is beautiful, brightly lit with a minimalism feel that helps keeps the focus on the music, whether it be the cool poster art, rows and rows of vinyl, or the beautiful concert photography that lines the walls.

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Hill & Dale will offer a variety of new and old titles in pop, rock, jazz, folk, country, blues, electronica, and lots of material that’s hard to classify. It’s certainly not your average record shop with it’s focus solely on new, packaged vinyl only.

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What I thought would be just a quick tour of the space, snap some photos and call it a day, actually turned out to be almost two hours worth of talking and discussing some of my favorite bands and artists. Owner Rob Norton is as smart as a whip and as knowledgable as Lester Bangs when it comes to the records he keeps in store. Everything from The White Stripes to The Decemberists, obscure blues records to the sounds of Africa and much more line the shelves and Rob has a story, tidbit or notable thought about each one. Out of choice, records are laid out alphabetically, not by genre, in order to encourage browsers to flip through the stacks to discover something new.
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It was about an hour into our conversation where I confessed my deep love for Prog Rock to Rob, wary my secret would come with a bit of music-snob judgement. Instead his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, full of light and surprise. “Do you really? I mean… do you really?” he asked, before pulling out his favorite Rush album to excitedly talk about his stories of following them on tour in his younger days. I ended up leaving the store with a slew of recommendations and new favorites (like Disappears, for example) to listen to and add to my collection.
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But isn’t all just records and posters on display. Monthly exhibits of art and concert photography will rotate through the mini-gallery attached to the space.  Currently featured are some beautiful black and white images from Peter Simon of rock stars (including the late, great Lou Reed), politicians, notable DC landmarks and more. Monthly parlours, highlighting new-in-store records, local and touring acts and much more will also be on the store’s docket in the coming months.
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Hill & Dale is located at 1054 31st Street NW. The opening party on February 7th is free to the public.

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