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Jody and Michael McFadin

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Ubiquity Records

Ubiquity Records Article


Jody and Michael McFadin

"Groove Merchant"- these two words automatically ring a bell with Beastie Boys fans, yet few people outside of San Francisco really know the whole story behind the popular record store. The history of the place goes something like this: "...after visiting San Francisco on their honeymoon and falling in love with the city, DJs Jody and Michael McFadin went home to Southern California. They sold most of their possessions, and moved to San Francisco with a fuzzy dream of starting a record company. While continuing to dream about starting a label, they invested the last of their savings into a business that would combine their passion for music and provide an income to live on, and opened the Groove Merchant record store on Haight Street in early 1990." For the Beastie Boys, this was period after Paul's Boutique and before Check your Head, where they were getting back to playing instruments and were developing a greater appreciation for jazz and rare groove albums.

The odd thing about the McFadin's Groove Merchant store was that it was more popular with out-of-towners, than it was with the locals. Within a year, the small shop had built a reputation as a place to find rare records and learn about new sounds. A haven for collectors, DJs and producers looking for soul jazz, musical obscurities and break beats, the Groove Merchant even earned a toast on the Beastie Boys song "Professor Booty", "This one goes out to my man the Groove Merchant, comin' through with the beats that I've been searchin'. Following that same idea, in an article entitled "Dedicated to the Groove" Dara Colwell stated the following, "Located in the lower Haight, the narrow store was central to the then small-but-tight retro-groove scene, where obscure and long-forgotten tracks were pursued by DJs and soul aficionados. Within the backdrop of San Francisco's burgeoning house scene, the Groove Merchant initially garnered more attention elsewhere than at home--Japanese and German tourists and savvy gringos like Beastie Boy Mike D often made pilgrimages to its aisles."

It didn't take long for the McFadins to realize that there was still a strong market out there in which to sell new albums. So having already estabilished their name in the record business, they set forth to also have their own label, "Luv n' Haight." With start-up capital of one thousand dollars, the Luv n' Haight record label (named after the Sly and The Family Stone song) was launched. In 1993 the company incorporated as Ubiquity Recordings and has since grown into a company with several imprints. "Luv n' Haight" remains the home for re-issue of rare groove gems, whereas "CuBop" is the Latin jazz arm. And, "Ubiquity" releases new music ranging from hip-hop to singer-songwriters to cutting edge club music, a worldwide distribution network, and over 100 releases. Incidentally, the name "Ubiquity" was chosen because of the label's mission to make unheard music ubiquitous.

With more and more emphasis on hip-hop and sampling, stores like Jody and Michael McFadin's Groove Merchant are here to stay. Or as Michael put it (in Colwell's article), "I like to modestly attribute our success to good luck," says co-founder Mike McFadin, energetically twisting in his chair. "The rare-groove scene was really starting to bubble and we were right on time--it carried us along. There were only a few places to go get this kind of music and we were one of them."

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