Jerry Kay Weeks of Ernest Tubb Record Shop: "People Who Love Music Love Life"

From behind the counter at Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Jerry Kay Weeks greets visitors from China, Germany, Amsterdam, London and Australia...and that was just last week.

The Original Ernest Tubb Record Store is a Top-3 must-see in Nashville for music fans. And long before Nashville called to his soul, Tubb was a Fort Worth native (his band was called the Texas Troubadours). Jerry Kay Weeks is one of the two star supporters that have kept the Fort Worth branch of the spot alive for two decades (the other being A.J. Lockett, who knew Tubb and would cook for his band when they came through), and since its inception, ETRS has hosted a slew of live in store performances (now a weekly Saturday tradition from 1 to 4), and impromptu visits from country artists both big and small, local and national (Tanya Tucker dropped by to shop one day, and ended up staying and signing for two hours). With Record Store Day coming up again Friday, we just had to pick her brain, and take a closer look at Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Ft. Worth's Historic Stockyards.

I'm sure I speak for a boatload of DFW artists when I say thanks, to you and ETRS, for the support you've given to Texas music. Your support is exceptional, and it's something this shop has been doing for decades.

Well, I just want to say thank you to all of wonderful customers all over the US who call us and come by and support our stores. Without you, this would not be possible. We are blessed to be a part of the Texas Music Scene. We do sell all of the Texas artists and try to support them with advertising their schedules. We also love Red Dirt music and the Austin artists. We are a one stop shop for our great Texas musicians. If you are looking for something, call me and I will find it for you.

You've been here 20 years. 20 years at this store!

I was the best customer at the Record Shop and spent all my time and money collecting traditional country music. It made since to get involved with the Record Shop.

Where do you recommend someone goes in Ft. Worth to get started digging into local country and all of its branches?

There are great clubs here on Exchange. My favorite one is Pearl's Dancehall and Saloon. This is an historic building and is now an historic honky-tonk. There's a tin roof ceiling, wood dance floor and long old bar from the 1800's. Great people, great music, and great fun make this a must if you are in the stockyards. Just a few people who play there regularly are Johnny Bush, Tony Booth, Curtis Potter, Darrell McCall, Leona Williams, Amber Digby, Jake Hooker, Tommy Hooker, Bobby Flores, Billy Mata, and many many more. It is our home of traditional music here in Fort Worth. We are fortunate to have Joe Bielinski on the KTFW radio 92.1 in Fort Worth on Sunday Afternoons. He plays traditional music and interviews traditional stars. Every year he throws an anniversary show party and this last year was one of the best with Johnny Bush, T. G. Sheppard, Johnny Rodriguez, Gene Watson, Amber Digby and one of the best bands you will ever hear. Check out this show every September. It is the best. And of course, we have Billy Bobs that features mostly the younger artists that are so popular now. Arlington Music Hall is a great venue if you want to sit in concert and be entertained. They have a great line up for the Spring with Johnny Bush, Gene Watson, and Johnny Rodriguez. Mandy Barnett will also be coming and she has so many fans.

Do you play any instruments yourself? Ever given it a shot?

I cannot play or sing but have been writing country music for many years, but no, I do not have a hit yet. But, there is lots of fun in trying. I did win second place in a contest once and that is enough to keep you going, isn't it?

What first sparked your interest in music as a youngster? School? Parents?

I received my love of traditional country music from my Dad. He had a wonderful voice and could sing like Hank Snow. We were poor and we would sit out on the porch and Dad would sing to us. He also taught us the old Western Cowboy songs and when the seven kids are together we have a sing a long of all these old songs and play dominoes. The first time I went to the Grand Ole Opry, I cried.

Your Mecca! Just overwhelmed, huh? Who did you see?

Hank Snow, Minnie Pearl, Porter Wagoner, and Little Jimmie Dickens in person. It was a moment I will always remember. I also enjoy Vince Gill and his new CD, Bakersfield, is the best. I am a huge fan of George Strait and have been to his concerts since he played at colleges. There are others on the horizon. I believe country music will find its way back to traditional music. It always does. It is our American Heritage.

Last April for Record Store day, you gave away red 45's by Dale Watson, singing "I Lie When I Drink" and "Thanks To Tequila". What's the plan this time around?

We love that there is National Record Store Day. This time, besides a great sale, we will be featuring drawings and giveaways of classic country 45's. We also have rock and pop vinyl so if you are not country, there will be something for everyone.

Vinyl is coming back up a tick, but it's been tough. Are there low points of running this record store that you look back on now and are stronger for surviving?

Vinyl IS back. The young kids are into it big time. I heard that 82% of all music sold is downloads. This has been hard on the record shops, but the kids have found their way to us and they are buying their grandparents' music. Our collection of traditional country, early rock and pop vinyl is extensive. The twenty and thirty year olds have discovered the sound and the satisfaction of playing vinyl. The new vinyl is the best sound we have ever had in music in my opinion. All the new releases are available on vinyl in all genres. Record Players are available at all stores and will be a huge part of Santa's Sleigh this Christmas. There are now laser players with no needles and no scratches on the vinyl.

Laser needles for turntables! Wow, who knew? Not me.

Yes, and stereo sound systems are coming back. I am sure technology will have exciting things in store for us. People are coming back to record shops and discovering the fun of spending an afternoon spinning discs and finding treasures.

Any advice for folks who want to open up a shop like this one?

If you are thinking of starting up a Record Shop, I think you have to start with a passion for the music. Your customers are all passionate and you must be able to be excited to help them find that certain song or album they have been searching for. Our location in the Historic Stockyards of Fort Worth brings people from all over the world to us. This week I met people from China, Germany, Amsterdam, London and Australia. Some come once a year and always stop in at the Record Shop. Music is a universal language and I think the location is one of the most important criterias for opening any business. I met the steel guitar player from the Japanese Grand Ole Opry. We are facebook friends and it is one of my most awesome experiences. People who love music love life.

See also: -The 100 Best Texas Songs: The Complete List -The Ten Most Badass Band Names in DFW -The Best Bands in DFW: 2012 Edition -Photo Essay: The Tattoos of Dallas' Nightlife Scene

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Alan Ayo

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