Black Circle Records Finds Its Groove
Formerly a rest stop in the 1920s, a storage shed in its later years and an apartment unit, the gray-bricked building south of the Grand Manse is one of Lincoln’s most mysterious and long-standing buildings. Today, Black Circle Records fills its space with used and new vinyl, CDs and record players.
Owner Doug Frank sat down with Downtown Lincoln to talk about his new business and his feelings on the resurgence of vinyl.
Downtown Lincoln: Are you the only person running Black Circle Records?
Doug Frank: Yes, I’m only owner. I have two other guys who are former students of mine and they’re working part-time. I just retired from teaching this year. I taught in Lincoln and at Millard South in Omaha, which is the last school I taught at before retiring.
DLA: What subjects did you teach?
Frank: Speech and debate for almost 30 years.
DLA: Why did you decide to run a vinyl shop as part of your retirement?
Frank: I’ve worked in record shops before and I wanted to kind of get back into it but I wanted to make sure it made sense money-wise to do so. Vinyl had sort of keeled over and died; it had been that way for a long time. Then younger people started buying it, and though still a niche market its popularity had increased a lot. I figured let’s shoot for that and kind of go from there.
DLA: Are you a vinyl collector yourself then?
Frank: Oh yeah, big time. I’ve got hundreds of records at home. I worked in record stores when I was in high school and college and then the advent of the CD and all that came with it. I always enjoyed [working in a record store]and thought I should give it a shot and see how it works.
DLA: How do you feel about the resurgence of vinyl? Obviously you hope it lasts since you’ve just opened a record store.
Frank: One of the reasons why I wanted to get into this area is because of the University. I’m always amazed when college kids come in here [and I see]what they’re looking at. They’ll grab an A$AP Rocky record or something like that but they’ll also grab a Neil Diamond record. Whether it’ll last or not, I mean there is a difference in fidelity if you’re an audiophile, but I think people like having a physical copy of something. There’s artwork, information about the artists. It’s those things you don’t get with a digital download. I think a lot of people have missed that.
DLA: Have you been in bands before?
Frank: Yes, many.
DLA: Which instruments do you play?
Frank: I like to play guitar, I play some drums too. I’ve been in jam bands; Phish, Grateful Dead, that kind of thing. Performing is fun and just talking about music is fun. When I was growing up and going to records stores, if the guy knew what he was doing, he could say ‘Oh you like this person? You should listen to this band.’ I think that’s kind of missing too. With streaming services you do get some recommendations and I’ve been turned onto some really good music that way, but it’s just nice to have that in-person recommendation.
Founded in 1967, the Downtown Lincoln Association provides services and champions initiatives for maintaining and enhancing our vibrant downtown. Our vision is to create an energetic downtown environment where we live, learn, work, invest and play. DLA has evolved into a multi-faceted organization supporting a wide range of programs and activities including maintenance, economic development and advocacy.