From the shady side of the Magazine Street, Jim Russell Records shop didn’t look like the Top 10 of anything — let alone one of the Top 10 record stores on earth as my daughter Tess had advertised. It was a simple store front with a weather-beaten sign that was probably the original from 1969.
The front door was open. It was warm inside the store. Denise Russell, daughter-in-law of Jim Russell, was behind the counter. She greeted us and we said hi.
The store extends deep to the back walls. Bins of CDs, deeper bins of vinyl LPs and slats of single 45s, 78s, tapes, movies, and all sorts of music-related memorabilia covered the walls. Tess began to explore.
I told Denise that we were visiting New Orleans and Tess had read that Jim Russell Records was famous. Denise nodded and said, “It is kind of famous.” Maybe even more famous to people living outside of the city.
She went on to tell stories about renowned performers who have visited the store. Most were friendly and real like Bruce Springsteen who appreciated the store and Jim Russell himself.
Denise went on to say that she gets lots of international visitors, and that Jim Russell’s has been written up in many foreign tourist guides as a must see in New Orleans.
As if on cue, in walked the Italians. They were a 30-ish couple, casual but stylish, great sun glasses and both sporting nifty miniature backpacks. They began looking around. In a few minutes the woman came up to put some purchases on the counter while her companion continued to shop.