Boulder gets ready to say goodbye to Albums on The Hill — a decades-long staple so very close in many ways to CU
A longtime stalwart of Boulder's vinyl record scene is closing. This long holiday weekend is billed as the last hurrah for Albums on the Hill. Come Labor Day, it will close for good.
For generations, Albums on The Hill has been an anchor on The Hill in Boulder, just across the street from the University of Colorado. It’s seen shops, restaurants — you name it — come and go with the decades.
But some have stayed. Steven Morris has known owner Andy Schneidkraut for 45 years.
On Thursday, Morris remembered the store as a music Mecca in the 1970s.
“Andy had his finger on the pulse of all that. And, you know, with the midnight record releases and all the other things that he used to do to support local music and regional music.” Morris said. He also described Schneidkraut as a huge supporter of the artists that came out of the area.
Another patron on Thursday afternoon, Julia Dandio, is a Colorado transplant. She says there are very few places like this left — a place to gather, to talk music, to just listen and learn.
“You feel at home and yeah, Andy's one of the good ones. He's a good guy. He loves the music. He lives the music,” Dandio said. “And I don't know, I wanted to be here, not for the end, but kind of, you know. Vinyl shopping is my favorite. Music is life.”
Schneidkraut had a kidney transplant in April, and earlier this year, he decided to close the store he has owned since 1987 — buying it after selling his restaurant in Estes Park. But ever since he was a customer at the record shop decades ago, he wanted to buy it.
“I've been a record addict, a music addict, since childhood. I lived with a transistor radio to my ear when I was very young and, so I was given the recommendation that, ‘If you don't do it, if you don't try to do it or buy it, you'll regret it your whole life.’ And I did it and I will regret it my whole life.”
Schneidkraut said the store has been his whole life. He’s turning 70 in November and he’s owned it for 35 years.
“So that's half my life at least, you know, I've loved the music. I've always enjoyed the people and I guess I was maybe hoping for a different kind of conclusion.”
Schneidkraut has seen a lot of things change in the music business: CDs, streaming, and then a resurgence in vinyl collecting.
“I never would've expected records to come back the way they did, but when I bought the store, physical music was clearly a mass market product,” he said. “Then it very quickly transitioned — after I took over the store — to CDs. And all of a sudden I had bought a used record store, really.”
Schneidkraut credits a very certain kind of nostalgia for why record stores are again seeing a resurgence in popularity.
“The resurrection of records, I think, is largely related to the fact that many young people want to experience music the way their parents did. I think that is because they want that emotional depth. They want that because so much, we're emotionally shallow. The world is somewhat emotionally shallow now,” Schneidkraut said. “And when they can see their mom's eyes gloss over … when she thinks about [the Fleetwood Mac album] Rumours, people want emotional depth. They want to connect to things, but the world has made it more difficult.”
It’s not just in music. After being in business in this neighborhood for 35 years, Schneidkraut has seen big changes happen around him too.
“Well, it's right now going through probably the greatest transition I've ever seen. And that's largely because of between Pleasant [Street] and University [Avenue] where Dot’s Diner was, where Mother’s [Cafe] was before that, where the Doozy Duds was, where Bovas was, Tra Ling’s, all that's been torn down and it's going to be a boutique hotel. And so there's a segment of The Hill that's about to be dramatically gentrified."
Schneidkraut tries to remain philosophical about the changes, though. He says he doesn’t know what comes next for his storefront. But Boulder will certainly miss this space – a gathering place for so many years — for so many people — to come to The Hill and talk about music with Andy.
“Well, you know, change — I can't say the four letter word, ‘cause it's for radio — but let's just say change happens,” he said. “And I'm not the one to judge whether it's for the better …. Just hoping there's a seed of a beginning in this ending.”
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