Playlist Project: Steve Stevenson

Love Affair with California
Steve Stevenson, Owner of 1-2-3-4 Go! Records

These thirty-­three records tell the story of my love affair with California. From the man who put the Western in Country & Western, Buck Owens, to the blast beats and grind of Spazz. I was born in Oregon to parents who had recently left California. Some of my earliest memories are of the mountains, rain, and snow of Oregon giving way to the warm valleys of California as we zoomed down I­-5 to visit relatives. The state has always had a place in my heart and it's the music that always called loudest to me. My teenage years of raw energy, angst, and anger summed up well by the countless punk bands the state produced in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. These bands made truly monumental contributions to the scene that continue to shake and shape myself and the music today.

In my 20s the call became louder and I moved to Oakland in 2003. Much of the glory of the 90s had been washed out but soon new rumblings of a long dormant garage scene started to happen. I was proud to release the debut albums from Oakland artists Nobunny and Shannon & The Clams on my record label 1-­2-­3-­4 Go! These bands would gain steam in Oakland's warehouses and art galleries before going on to tour the world. I wasn't asked to choose records from this state alone but as I was making my list I realized I could more than fill it with meaningful albums that were birthed here. Some by residents, others by transplants like myself who heeded the call or were dragged here by others, or the times, and decided to stay.

Many of these are love letters to California themselves. Others are harsh critiques that could only come from people whose hate, boredom, and anger came from a place of love and disappointment, knowledge that we could do better but were falling short. I encourage you to sample a bit from each. They're undeniable pieces of California's rich musical history as well as my own.

Steve Stevenson owns 1­-2-­3-­4 ­Go! Records, a label, record store, and online store based in Oakland, California. 1­-2-­3-­4 ­Go! focuses on punk, indie, garage, and hardcore vinyl and tapes.

Find out more about Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records, open through July 27, 2014.