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El Guapo Records and the Vinyl Revival


How Music Got Its Groove Back

By Daniel Poe

“Saturday you’d hop on your bike and meet up with your buds, or we’d hop in the car once we could drive and spend all day between the guitar shop and the record store. You pick up the newest wax from whatever band you’re into lately and wear it out learning new licks from Page or Billy (Gibbons) or Jeff Beck. That was it, man. If you could manage that, it was a good day.”

This was the sort of trip my Dad would take me on when I asked him about growing up in Abilene, Texas. Born in ‘56, he was “there” for the hallowed era of what we now call Classic Rock. Discussing it has always been a communion between us for as long as I could remember, usually stemming from something coming on the radio or whoever was on the cover of the latest “Guitar World” magazine he was poring over. Sometimes I’d wander into his room to see him with his giant can headphones plugged into the receiver, spinning records to unwind from a long day. These occasions were perhaps my favorite and the most special. His eyes would brighten, and he’d flash a smile or a silly face to acknowledge me, and I would sit patiently while he finished his song. I would soak in every detail and can still remember each sensation – the light shimmering off of the shiny, rotating vinyl, the unamplified whisper of the needle riding the groove, the sweet, musty smell of the old record sleeves, the big, bright album art – orchestrating to tell just as much as the songs we were playing. It was visceral.

This experience is altogether unique and yet not uncommon. Many music lovers could write their own such ode to vinyl. One could expect to hear several of the same tropes from one account to the next and just as many interpretations: (“What do you mean ‘analog is warmer?”), and in the end, if anything, they would convince you that people are passionate about records.

Aristeo Rodriguez is one such romantic, and the recently opened El Guapo Records in Downtown Tyler is his love letter. Situated unassumingly between Moon Rivers Naturals and Lightbox Collective, El Guapo popped up seemingly overnight, but in many ways feels like it has been there all along. Within the narrow, vibrantly colored space is the perfect marriage of something old and something new. Black record shelves line the green and orange walls, packed full of fresh and used stock from nearly every music genre imaginable, organized alphabetically.

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One section showcases some of the most popular recent releases and reissues, bolstered by a strong showing from Third Man Records and Matador, for all your White Stripes and Radiohead needs, respectively. A couple of steps to the left will put you in front of the popular $2 bin, boasting an eclectic selection of well-worn but playable titles. Plucking almost any album from the lot and showing it to him, Aristeo will likely tell you exactly where he picked it and what he loves about it.

Occasionally you’ll see him grab a new item off the shelf and say, “You know what? I’ve gotta keep a copy of this for myself!”

The stock is as much a personal collection as it is inventory. And much like the records and sleeves, he is a storyteller. You will typically find him standing at the counter, handsome as his store’s name suggests, carefully cleaning new additions with a felt brush in deliberate, circular motions, ready to recount his latest bike trek or his favorite concert memories. He will rattle off his wishlist for new releases, give you recommendations, share his favorite recipes, or talk about growing up in south Texas.

Much like myself, music was a sacred thing for Aristeo from very early on. A rich cultural background and a handful of moves did their part to expose him to a wide variety of genres. His father is a self-taught engineer, so it’s no surprise that he took a shine to vinyl – the raw mechanics of placing a needle in a groove to draw out something he could not only hear but feel. This exchange became even more a part of his life as he began DJing clubs and parties under the moniker DJ Aris. Striving to stay inspired and keep a fresh sound, his record collection grew, and with it, the desire to connect with people and share music in a much more practical, meaningful way. This ultimately meant a lot of waiting.

The state of physical media was changing. And shrinking. The ‘80’s and ‘90’s saw everyone putting their LPs in the closet or the garage, trading quality and size for quick and compact in the form of cassettes and CDs. Media became digital, and the Internet made it easier than ever to distribute and acquire music without ever leaving the house. MP3 players allowed for one to carry thousands of songs with them anywhere. Music lovers had more access and control than ever, and it was hard to imagine anything better. But despite everything gained, we lost something. Album sleeves became thumbnails, liner notes fell by the wayside, and any song could be found by scrolling through a body of text. People stopped touching their music. Record stores everywhere went dark.

Flip to side B. In 2006, vinyl sales began to increase for the first time in what seemed like forever, hitting a steady stride by 2010 and increasing 30-40% year-over-year, according to Forbes. Thanks to a growing interest in retro style and movements like Record Store Day, vinyl was back on our minds and went into heavy rotation. Many artists embraced the opportunity to be in listeners’ hands again and catered to the format, releasing special editions and color variants of old and new albums. Jack White’s “Lazaretto” sold 40,000 vinyl copies in the first week alone, and soon became the best-selling vinyl album since Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy” in 1994. By 2015, records were outselling digital downloads in many markets and sales reached $416 million, the highest figure since 1988, the RIAA reported, and these figures did not account for the sales in the used market. Vinyl was telling stories again, and people were listening. Aristeo’s wait was over.

El Guapo Records opened in style on November 19th, 2016, throwing a big block party with live music, food, and the support of neighboring businesses. The turnout was huge.

“I sold over half of my stock that first day, dude. It was crazy!” Aristeo said. “I knew this thing wouldn’t work unless I was all in.”

The bet paid off. El Guapo has since enjoyed a steady clientele of seasoned vinyl enthusiasts and newcomers alike. “I’ve sold several kids their first ever turntable. How cool is that? Now they’ve got the bug and keep coming in,” he grins.

Along with vinyl, there is a solid selection of used CDs, cassettes, record cleaning supplies, shirts, and more. Hang out long enough and you will meet Strawberry, the record store kitty, playing amid the crates.

As the saying goes, “analog is warmer,” and a visit to Tyler’s newest record shop will reveal the community is as well. It’s just the sort of place I can call Dad about and say I hopped on my bike to go hang out all Saturday, thumbing through records with my friends.

For more info about El Guapo Records call (903)630-7606 or go to

El Guapo Records is located at 257 S. Broadway in Downtown Tyler.

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Dinosaurs are Back at Discovery Science Place!

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Return of the Dinosaurs This Summer at Discovery Science Place

Discovery Science Place (DSP) is located at 308 N. Broadway Ave., Downtown Tyler. DSP is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 1-5pm, and closed on Mondays. Summer Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are Monday-Saturday: 10am-5pm, and Sunday 1-5pm.

Tickets are $8 for adults (ages 13 and up), $6 for children (ages 2-12), $6 per person for seniors (65 and up), $5 per person for active military (must provide ID), and children under 2 are free. For more info call (903)533-8011 or go to

Return of the Dinosaurs, Coming This Summer!

Come walk among the dinosaurs again as DSP’s celebrates its 25th anniversary! Take your picture riding a Triceratops or braving the jaws of a T-Rex. See two Protoceratops guarding their nest or view the long-necked Apatosaurus. View actual fossils along with animatronic models of the “terrible lizards” of long ago.

“Return of the Dinosaurs” is featured in the DSP Annex building next door to the main museum building. Tickets are purchased at the main museum front desk (under the green portico) and exhibit entry is on Broadway under the blue awning.

“Return of the Dinosaurs” is a separately ticketed exhibit. Ticket prices are: $8 for adults ages: 13 and up, and $6 for children ages: 2-12. Current DSP members get in for 1/2 price ($4 and $3). Children under 2 are free.

You can view actual fossils along with animatronic models of the “terrible lizards” of long ago. The exhibit runs June 9th-August 19th.

Summer Camps at Discovery Science Place

8 weeks of camps are planned, from June 11th-August 10th. Each week has a different theme, and campers are divided into two age groups based on school grade: entering 1st-3rd grade, or for students entering 4th-6th grades. Every camper this summer will also be able to tour the exciting summer 2018 traveling exhibit. Camps are from 10am-4pm each day, and extended programming is available from 7:30am-5:30pm.

The cost is $175 per week per camper with a 10% discount for DSP museum members. Cost includes a snack and all camp materials each day, but campers will need to bring a sack lunch. Camps are:

June 11th-15th: Vex Robotics 1

The Discovery Science Place will fill with the sounds of whirling wheels and motors during this robotics camp. They have upgraded to Vex Robotics and are excited to see campers build claw bots and tackle new challenges! This camp is limited to 15 per class.

June 18th-22nd: Make: Create

Curious makers will want to sign up for this camp! During the week children will learn about the design process, then apply those ideas to bridges, buildings, fog cannons and more.

June 25th-29th: Mad Science

If it bubbles, oozes, or pops, campers will give it a try during this camp. Young camper scientists will make slime, rockets, and more. Campers need to be prepared, because science can be messy!

July 9th-13th: 3D Modeling featuring Minecraft

Everyone loves Minecraft, and campers will put that knowledge to good use by transforming their Minecraft designs from the digital space to the real world using 3D printing technology. This camp is capped at 15 students per class.

July 16th-20th: Vex Robotics II

The Discovery Science Place will fill with the sounds of whirling wheels and motors during robotics camp. They have upgraded to a new robotics system, and are excited to see their campers build claw bots and tackle new challenges. This camp is limited to 15 per class.

July 23rd-27th: 3D Modeling featuring Minecraft II

Everyone loves Minecraft, and will put that knowledge to good use by transforming their Minecraft designs from the digital space to the real world using 3D printing technology. This camp is limited to 15 per class.

July 30th-August 3rd: Take Flight/ Make it Move

This exciting week lets campers explore various forms of flight, from airplanes to rockets, as well as learning the basis of movement and flight. Rockets will launch, planes will glide, cars will loop-de-loop, and more.

August 6th-10th: Kitchen Chemistry

No Summer camp at the DSP would be complete without Kitchen Chemistry week. Nearly all the activities done during this week can be replicated at home with parent help. Campers will make slime, learn about cooking with solar power, and create paint using vegetables and spices.

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Around East Texas

June 22nd-23rd: 10th Annual Tyler Coin Show

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For more events and to add your events for free, go to

June 22nd-23rd – 10th Annual Tyler Coin Show will be held at Harvey Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St., Tyler. Friday, June 22nd the show will be 12 noon-5pm and Saturday, June 23rd 9am-5pm. There will be coins, currency, tokens, gold and silver on over 50 tables. They will do verbal appraisals and there will be door prizes, educational displays, and more. For more info call (903)570-3136 or email

July 4th (8am-11pm) – Smith County Freedom Ride and Festival 2018 – This free event will feature fireworks, hotdogs, drinks, watermelons, kids, pets, hot-rods and motorcycles, and there is no better way to celebrate the 4th of July on a Wednesday! Come out, celebrate our freedom, and honor all those who serve at this Independence Day festival and ride. Downtown businesses will be open to the public. Public will vote on “Smith County Most Patriotic Ride” and “Smith County Most Patriotic Hotrod” from 12 noon-4pm. The Independence Day Ride will begin at 5pm to the clubhouse to the free firework show at dark. Everyone in the community is welcome to join in on the fun. For more info go to

July 29th (12:30-4:30pm) – Bridal Expo with East Texas Bride focuses exhibitors, bridal fashion presentations, grand prizes, and fabulous fun. This is sponsored by All American Party & Tent Rentals, Complete Weddings & Events East Texas, and Fantasy & Fairytale Floral Designs. There will be grand prize giveaways that include The Landing at Joshua Farms offering a fabulous Saturday Package valued at $4500; Bella Sera Ranch offering a Friday DIY package for 150 guests valued at $2695 (excludes December); Old Omen Guest House “Event Day Free” for 150 guests; Eagle’s Bluff $1800 venue package; Venue 31 Events $1,000 in event rentals; Fantasy & Fairytale Floral Designs offering Floral Package valued at $1,000; Complete East Texas Weddings & Events offering DJ, Video, and Photography Packages; Lisa Gallant Photography Package valued at $1,200; Simply Beautiful Flowers & More a $500 Floral Package; Nichole Beth Photography $500 Bridal Session; The Barn at the Silver Spur Cabin overnight stay. Don’t miss this wonderful summer bridal event. Register for reduced tickets for $8 online and secure your bride bag and your Symbolize It gift card. Tickets at the door are $10. This will be held at Harvey COnvention Center, 2000 W. Front St., Tyler.

Ongoing Events

Hit the Bricks: 2nd Saturday Downtown Tyler (Second Saturday of each month, 12 noon-10pm) – Get out and about on and off the square where Downtown businesses will be offering fun events all day long. There is free parking in the Fair parking garage. Rain or shine, Downtown Tyler will be the place to be every second Saturday. For more info and a full list of events go to or find Hit the Bricks on Facebook. Dates are: May 12th, June 9th, July 14th, August 11th, September 8th, October 13th, November 10th, and December 8th.

Canton First Monday Trade Days Market is held Thursday-Sundays. What started more than a century ago as a flea market has become home to some of the most exciting, cutting-edge home furnishings, antiques, and collectibles that can be found anywhere. For more info call (903)567-6556 or go to Dates are: May 3rd-6th, May 31st-June 3rd, June 28th-July 1st, August 2nd-5th, August 30th-September 2nd, September 27th-30th, November 1st-4th, November 29th-December 2nd.

Free Yoga Saturday (9am-12:30pm) – Every 3rd Saturday of the month, beFree offers a free day of yoga. You don’t have to sign up ahead of time but you can if you’d like to, and there are no catches – just free yoga with the beFree instructors in their beautiful and healing studio space. Check the schedule to choose any class on that day that you will most enjoy at beFree Yoga is located at 212 Old Grande Blvd., Tyler, (903)630-6142,

Every 4th Thursday, April 26th, May 24th, June 28th (6-10pm) – Geek World Paint Night – With all the excitement around games requiring models, Geek World has had a few of the communities best painters offer to lead a free painting night the 4th Thursday of every month. Bring your painting projects and get your questions answered plus learn some new tricks and techniques. This is free to attend and all painting supplies will be 10% off during the event and 20% off special orders. Geek World is located at 410 WSW Loop 323, Tyler, (903)363-9751, Geek World also offers nightly tournaments, game nights, all day Commander games, Friday night magic, and many pre-release sneak peek events.

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Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Set to Perform, August 3rd

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir set for August 3rd Concert at Oil Palace

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is coming to East Texas for a concert at The Oil Palace on August 13th at 7:30pm.

The 270-member Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is directed by Carol Cymbala, the wife of Pastor Jim Cymbala. Made up mostly of church members without formal vocal training, over the years the choir has received  five Dove Awards and six Grammy Awards. The choir has performed at Billy Graham Crusades and the 2012 Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.

After nearly thirty years of recordings and live performances, Carol and the choir continue to rely on the Lord for his grace and direction in their ministry. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is a highly unlikely group of people, a mixture of ethnic and economic backgrounds, in the heart of a city synonymous with coldness and decay. Made up of doctors, attorneys and former street people, nurses and ex-crack addicts, the choir is a unique cross section of humanity. Pastor Cymbala explains “None of us would have met if it weren’t for Christ. Our backgrounds are just too diverse. But all of us have one thing in common: we have all been lifted up and changed by the power of Jesus Christ. So the choir sings, not about a mere theological doctrine, but about what has happened to them. It’s not just the lyrics of a song; it’s a reality to each of them.” Starting each rehearsal with prayer reinforces that principle as the choir asks the Lord to bless their music and anoint their songs for the services.

“After the $2 million renovation of The Oil Palace, we made a decision that we were going to broaden the scope of our concerts and events,” Kevin Michael Barbaro, The Oil Palace spokesman, said in a prepared statement. “We are committed to the people of East Texas and will bring in events from around the world that will enhance the lives of the community.”

Tickets start at $15 and will be available at The Oil Palace is located at 10408 TX 61, Tyler, (903)566-2120.


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