I bought the most reasonably-priced vinyl record of my life at a record store in Jackson.
This is the kind of sentence I never thought I’d write. For one thing, reasonable prices, particularly for a brand new, remastered vinyl of an iconic rock star like David Bowie, are hard to come by in most record stores.
If you go to Wuxtry Records in Athens, Georgia, you’ll find records for around twenty to thirty bucks. Peter Buck, the lead guitarist of R.E.M., used to work there, a fact I repeated over and over to my friend who had the good fortune to live in Athens but the misfortune to not care about a Southern rock band that defined college radio in the 1980s. I bought a Father John Misty record for much more than what I’d usually spend because it came from Wuxtry Records, former workplace of Peter Buck. This kind of reasoning is what you learn in school as the appeal to ethos: “when an argument is constructed based on the ethics or credibility of the person making the argument.”
Peter Buck never asked anyone to go to Wuxtry Records, I just went there because I love vinyl and I love R.E.M., but these two loves led to green bills leaping out of my wallet like jackrabbits.
But if you have this same love for a musical medium of the past, you’ll know that most record stores require you to spend a fair amount of money to get what you want. You’ll also know that, if you live in the Jackson area, the closest brick-and-mortar, honest-to-goodness record stores are located in Memphis and Nashville. Until now.
Third Eye Curiosities is located right across from the courthouse in downtown Jackson. It’s in the cozy space that OZ Rare and Used Books once called home. Hunter Cross used to sell records from his personal collection at the bookstore before OZ decided to relocate. It was then that Hunter and his grandfather, Joe North, saw an opportunity for something new.
Hunter looks out over the shop as he speaks. “This is definitely a place filled with novelties and curiosities,” he affirms, nodding toward the rare records, oddly shaped jewelry, and St. Patrick’s Day bowler hats displayed throughout the one-room store. When I first entered the shop, my eyes had done the same thing, dancing over each and every item with a kind of urgency. It’s a lot to take in, and it’s all so interesting that you can hardly decide what to focus on first. I settled on a black-and-white photograph of a family, displayed on a table in the middle of the room.
“Who are these people?” I ask, and Cameron Briley explains that they’re just, well, people. They’re not personally known, but there’s a family name written by the price tag, and it’s intriguing to imagine their history.
Cameron works in the store as often as she can. She’s one of several friends and family members who help Hunter and Joe with the retail aspects of Third Eye Curiosities. There’s a section of the store dedicated to “Cameron’s Picks,” where her preferred items are gathered in a bin. When I ask Cameron to point out her favorite item for sale, she doesn’t hesitate. Picking up a brightly colored record scrawled with psychedelic drawings of the singers, Cameron holds it out toward me.
The album is entitled “Disco-Tex And His Sex-O-Lettes.” Cameron is proud of its place in the store because you can’t buy this album online. She hasn’t been able to find it anywhere else.
For Hunter, the best item is his prized 1960s Gemini I amp. The amp sits casually near the checkout area. I didn’t know how awesome it was until I asked about it. Hunter explains that visiting musicians often get excited at the sight of it.
“It doesn’t take fuzz well, but I love it,” Hunter sighs. He almost doesn’t want to sell it, but he prefers other types of amps for his genre of music.
When Hunter and Cameron are away from Third Eye Curiosities, they are usually involved in making music together as The Skeleton Krew. Joe acts as their manager; when he arrives in the store that afternoon, he’s ready with a list of upcoming performances and events for the band. Joe teaches, farms, mentors others, manages the band, and can now add “owns a local business” to his list of duties.
It appears that everyone involved in this group of entrepreneurs has at least five other projects that they are working on at any given time. I make this point to Hunter, who smiles wryly. He’s just come from a radio show interview, is currently being interviewed by me, and will play a rock show at The Ned tomorrow. Last year, The Skeleton Krew played around 113 shows, according to Joe’s calendar.
“We’re going to focus on recording music again soon,” Hunter explains. Cameron wholeheartedly agrees; the two seem relieved to be able to create again after a long period of performing. Much of the material that they will record is older, “stuff that they can’t wait to get recorded.” Like many other indie bands, finding the right place to record was a lengthy process, but they found a second home in Franklin, Tennessee, with the Sound Kitchen.
As musicians, Hunter and Cameron hope that Third Eye Curiosites can soon become a haven for live music in Jackson. There are not many venues in Jackson that encourage independent songwriting, since covers of popular songs tend to get more reaction from the crowd (or are at least assumed to). Hunter talks about hosting acoustic music in Third Eye Curiosities, in efforts to give local musicians a place to be themselves. It’s only through support from business owners and residents that live music in Jackson can thrive.
Third Eye Curiosities hosted their grand opening in May, so make sure to head over for records as cheap as $8, jangly bracelets, mirrors shaped like eyes, and old family photos for sale. As the word continues to get around, this little record shop is bound to be a hub for music lovers, thrift shop combers, and local business supporters alike.
Third Eye Curiosities is located at 116 East Baltimore Street and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. To learn more, follow them on Facebook or call them at 731.267.6803.
Olivia Chin is the danger. She is also a writer, music aficionado, barista, and Union University graduate based in Jackson.
As a writer and photographer, Mattanah DeWitt's passion is telling stories that connect people and empower them to live on purpose. She is currently earning her B.A. in journalism at Union University, where she serves as managing editor for the school's magazine and online newspaper, Cardinal & Cream.