PETERSBURG, Va. -- Carrington’s Music in Petersburg is the place technology forgot.
“They made it so the internet would allow people to go on and buy that one song,” said owner James Carrington. “We’ve closed all of the stores because of sales in the music industry.”
Carrington remembers the good old days.
“The flow was great. The Music sales were great,” he recalled.
At one time, James owned eleven locations. But on-line streaming pulled the plug on his small empire.
“CD business started to drop so I started closing stores one by one,” he said.
His lone store in Petersburg. Serves as a kind of melodic time capsule. From 8 Track and CD to Vinyl. Lots of vinyl.
“My main group? Earth Wind and Fire,” said James. “That was the thing back in the day. 8 Track? That was the sound. That was the music.”
Nestled among the classic R&B sits James’ most prized LP called the “Eyes of Love” by the band Edge of Daybreak.
The obscure album is dripping with booming ballads and sizzling soul. None of the eight songs cracked the top ten. But the chart success played second fiddle to the meaning behind the album.
James founded the group Edge of Daybreak and recorded the album with friends in 1979.
“It was very special. Music was in my system,” said James.
There was no big-name label to back his group.
“Great songs. Great LP. Did in less than five hours,” said James.
What makes this recording so special? Is where it happened.
“I had been incarcerated and this band was formed in a prison,” said James.
Yes, James and his fellow amateur musicians were serving time at Powhatan Correctional facility. James convinced the warden to allow producers to visit behind bars.
“After hearing our music, they agreed to come in and record us,” said James.
Their recording session would last just a few hours.
“Basically, all of the songs were one take. One take. One take only,” said James. “Whatever we played. That was it.”
With equipment rolling, prison guards watching and pressure mounting, James says the takes needed to be perfect.
“When we got ready to record that song, which was the last song, the guards were saying, ‘It’s time to go. Your time is up. You got to go,’” James recalled.
Members of Edge of Daybreak delivered.
“It was just a great feeling that we did it and got the music down,” he said.
For a brief window, music set James free.
“That was my outlet. That was my release from the situation I was in to take me beyond that,” said James.
Three hundred albums were pressed.
“It was something that had never been done in a prison,” explained James.
Following his nine-year stretch, James’ work release program led him to Bohanans music in Richmond. Where they sold his album.
“It’s been a lot of years. A lot of years. A lot of old memories,” said James.
James eventually bought and renamed the store. Growing Carrington’s to 11 locations. With a growing business, the former prisoner put his dark chapter behind him. The album faded from memory.
“I let the past be the past. The Edge of Daybreak music died,” said James.
But in 2015, the once forgotten LP was rediscovered by producers. Edge of Daybreak was re-released to critical acclaim. The song “Our Love” was even featured in the Oscar winning movie “Moonlight”.
A new generation of music lovers like customer, Lastarra Bassfield, marvel at the album.
“It is shocking that they make this music from back then. They don’t make this music anymore,” said Lastarra.
From the turntable to the big screen. Edge of Daybreak is now the subject of a new documentary that is premiering at the upcoming Richmond International Film Festival. The star will be front and center.
“I can’t wait for April 28th when it hits the theatre,” said James.
James Carrington is embracing the new appreciation for his 40-year-old masterpiece.
“It is very exciting to go into a Walmart or Target and see your LP selling. Great,” said James.
An album listeners can download. The same technology that fueled the demise of his music chain.
“I have to say that I had fantastic musicians who could hold their own,” said James.
Building on momentum from his new-found fame, James is planning his next chapter.
“Carrington is now reopened come visit.”
Giving his shuttered music store and his album another spin.
“It is a great feeling knowing we did it!” said James.
You can see the premiere of Edge of Daybreak at the Richmond International Film Festival at Bowtie Criterion theatre on Saturday, April 28. James Carrington plans to be there. The Richmond International Film Festival begins April 23.
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