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James Tritten was sick at home one weekend and spent it diving back into his collection of 7-inch records. A one-time staple for up-and-coming indie bands, it’s been overtaken by the ubiquitous mp3 files.

Revisiting all that music and artwork he loved led Tritten to a simple thought: If he wanted to see more vinyl in the world, he’d start a record label to do just that.

By the end of the weekend, Tritten (who plays guitar with his wife, Tracy Shedd’s band) had a name, a logo and a plan. When Tritten and Shedd moved here from Florida in 2006, they were already huge fans of Tucson music, so when it came to picking a name, he selected Fort Lowell Records to make a clear statement about the label’s commitment to Tucson.

“This is the kind of record label that documents a scene,” he said. “For me, I’m marking my time in Tucson. Tucson has a scene already and I like just tapping into that and capturing what’s happening in the city.”
Fort Lowell Records is releasing four 7-inch singles this year: The Young Mothers, (April 20); …music video? on July 13; a Tracy Shedd and Wet & Reckless split 7-inch in the fall; and a fourth record yet to be determined.

Zach Toporek, singer, songwriter and guitarist for The Young Mothers, said that when Tritten contacted the band about Fort Lowell Records, they were excited not only to have a label, but to stand out from the crowd with a colored-vinyl album.

“I would really be happy to see this bloom into a big community thing. I’d love to continue developing relationships with the other bands that James releases,” Toporek said. “Fort Lowell is going to be a good community-building enterprise and it’s nice to be a part of it.”

To maintain a consistent visual identity for the label, Tritten is handling the graphic design and he recruited photographer Alaina Brownell to provide the artwork.

“Twenty records later, I want to look back and feel like ‘Yes, they all look like Fort Lowell Records,’” he said. “I want people to look and see that image and know exactly what it is, that this record is coming out of Tucson and it is good.”

While Tritten hopes for a bright future for Fort Lowell Records, he said that right now it’s just a thrill to hold the first 7-inch in his hands. Smiling, but not joking, Tritten said he wouldn’t mind a tombstone that reads: “He put vinyl into the world.”

Published May 4, 2010 in Zócalo.

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Eric Swedlund is a writer, photographer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. His music writing has appeared regularly in the Tucson Weekly, Phoenix New Times, East Bay Express, The Rumpus and Souciant Magazine.

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