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Vintage vinyl and radio broadcast Lauer’s passion

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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Al Lauer’s love of music goes back to his childhood in Auburn, a passion he has embraced since then. He still remembers that first album he bought was by the Herman's Hermits. His mother loved music and played a lot of R&B records, and his older sister passed her passion for music to her little brother as they listened to records together as children. “When I was young it was different. Records were a real social outlet. You’d get a new album and your friends would come over to listen. You’d pass the jacket around and read the liner notes, look at the photos, things like that,” said Lauer. “Today, iPods have changed all that; you’ve gone from the social medium of the album to the digital format that has isolated people as we listen to music alone.” Raised in the Auburn area, Lauer attended Placer High School, graduating in the class of 1972. Lauer played a lot of baseball, and was even scouted by the pros. “It was always the same story, the skills were there, but I was too small,” Lauer said. He learned to be a printer working at the Auburn Letter House in the mid-’70s and also spent quite a bit of time on the air as a disc jockey at KAHI/KHYL when the radio stations were located on Highway 49. “I opened Cherry Records on Cherry and Magnolia streets in 1983 with 500 bucks and my private record collection of about 2,000 records,” Lauer said. The record store had a small apartment attached to it and Lauer would work at the print shop in the mornings from 6 to noon, then open the record shop until 6 p.m. He lived in the back of the store. “My boss finally convinced me to try it full-time and assured me I always had a job if it didn’t work out,” Lauer said. Lauer fills a need for music lovers in the region that he feels big retailers can’t. Cherry Records carries a large variety of music that many big stores don’t — hard-to-find stuff. Lauer’s vast knowledge of music makes entering Cherry Records an experience, not just an errand. Many times he can come up with an album or CD title described by a customer, and most customers don’t mind spending a dollar or so more for a record, placing a value on Lauer’s knowledge and personable service, supporting his small shop in an era of mega stores. Lauer also carries CDs, mostly used but some new, and music concert DVDs, which are now popular If he doesn’t have a title his service includes fast turn-around on special orders. About 60 percent of his business is used CDs, 25 percent vinyl records, and the rest in new CDs and DVDs. Most of the vinyl is vintage and comes in from customers who no longer want their collections, their own or a deceased relative’s. Some customers have duplicated their collection to computer files or CDs. Lauer will also perform this service, transferring music from vinyl to CD, complete with reducing the album art for the CD covers. Entering its 26th year in business, Cherry Records is now located at 916 Lincoln Way. A trip to Cherry Records is not only a audio experience but a visual experience also as covers of unforgettable records albums on the walls and adorn the entry. Lauer extended his passion for music, especially reggae music, with his long-running radio show, “Tropical Storm,” on local community radio station KVMR in Nevada City. Lauer is excited about a new show that he will debut on KVMR in September called, “Duke’s Place,” taking on a new genre, playing everything from Bono to Duke Ellington, many, will be seldom-heard recordings. “It will be like walking into a night club on the radio. Get a table, and hear some blues, jazz, Latin, soul and swing, that kind of energy,” Lauer said.