Sick Records Celebrates Birthday with In-Store Gigs

'A good record shop should be about something more than commerce.' Owner Kenny Murdock marks one year in business with free sets from Robyn G Shiels, OneKnown and more

He wanted to open a record shop, and that's exactly what Kenny Murdock did. Belfast's Sick Records welcomed its first patrons through the doors in March 2014, and on Saturday, March 7 celebrates one year in business.

'The ethos of this shop is simple,' says Murdock. 'To provide Belfast with a good independent record shop which specialises in great new alternative music.'

Murdock – who is driven by a life-long love of vinyl, and runs the store with the help of his son, Matthew, and one part-time member of staff – is determined to succeed where so many others have unfortunately failed in recent years, excluding, of course, Belfast's first and most well-known independent record store mogul, the irrepressible Terri Hooley.

While he may not be laughing all the way to the bank, Murdock, like so many other independent record store owners across the UK and Ireland, is not overly concerned with profits. He shares Hooley's idealistic approach to business. 'A good record shop should be about something more than commerce,' he argues. 'It should be part of the local community.'

To that end, Murdock is inviting the music-loving public to help celebrate Sick Records' first birthday with a series of free in-store sets from emerging Northern Irish stars on the folk, electronic and rock scenes.

'On Saturday we have Robyn G Shiels, Bloomer White, Fabric, Thee Penny Dreadfuls and OneKnown playing sets in the shop,' he reveals 'It's free to anyone, any age, and starts at around 2pm.'

There will be many who will hope to share in Sick Records' good news story. The little shop on Belfast's North Street has become something of a mini-Mecca for music lovers in the city over the past year, offering an alternative to the chain store pop product.

Murdock prides himself on stocking music from around Ireland and further afield, and doesn't agree that independent business owners can't compete with the big supermarkets. 

'There have been 29 new independent record stores opened in the last three years in the UK,' he explains. 'We feel that if the product is right and the service is right, local enthusiasts will prefer a point of contact for purchasing records, rather than shopping online.

'Our first year has surpassed all our expectations but no-one will ever become rich from owning a record shop. We can measure our progress by the fact that we have increased our stock three-fold in our first year. I anticipated that would take two years to achieve.'
As for his plans post-first birthday bash, Murdock hopes to increase the Sick Records stock further still, to welcome many more new customers – be they residents or tourists searching for the authentic Belfast experience – and continue to programme live events.
'We plan a series of in-stores throughout 2015, so we hope to host many of the best local acts before the end of the year. Any artist playing an in-store would have to fit in with the ethos of the shop. I don't think we'll be booking a boyband anytime soon.'