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Issue Date: March 2008 Issue

Basement Tapes

Jim Vickers
It all started with a coffee shop and the 2001 cult film “Donnie Darko,” which declares the phrase “cellar door” the most beautiful of all possible word combinations in the English language.

“The whole ‘Donnie Darko’-is-the-coolest-movie-in-the-world craze hadn’t caught on yet,” explains Justin Markert, who opened Cellar Door Coffee and Music with business partner Rick Fike in 2003. “We pulled in a lot of local bands and a couple of national tours in this little 130-capacity place.”

Though the duo sold the Madison, Ohio, business in 2004, last year they joined forces with Adam Butcher and announced the creation of Cellar Door Records by releasing a six-artist compilation disc. We recently talked to Markert about Northeast Ohio’s newest independent label.
How did these six acts end up on your Cellar Door Records compilation?
We put together a list of who we thought was good and realized a lot of these artists were part of our history when we had the coffee shop. ... Pretty much every act we talked to said they were in. We got them together and put them in a studio.

So, all of the tracks were recorded during that week and a half of studio time?
Everyone except This Is Exploding — those were tracks they already had — and Keith Vance, who is a very DIY-type artist and does home recordings.

When will we see the first full-length recordings from your artist roster?
We’re going with The Frozen Hellsicles first, which will be a spring release. And we’re working with Keith Vance, who’s doing his own recording. When he’s done we’re going to get together with him to put something out.

It’s a tough time for the music business. What made you want to do this?
We have a good mix of interest in music and arts in combination with business sense. ... We’re not trying to be anything we’re not. We’re just trying to get the ball rolling and get some good music out there.

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