On the Record

Originally published by 225 Magazine on March 28, 2014.

By Amanda Wicks

Tucked along an unassuming street in Beauregard Town, Lagniappe Records doesn’t look like your typical record store. The converted house doesn’t boast any overt signs, and in a neighborhood dominated by law offices, it remains quietly hidden. It’s relatively new to the Baton Rouge vinyl scene–a hidden gem for vinyl newbies and aficionados alike.

Inside, Lagniappe Records owners Tess Brunet and Patrick Hodgkins have fashioned a colorful and quirky space with albums and music posters lining the walls, such as one particularly fantastic print of Michael Jackson posing with E.T. That kind of surprising and special find typifies the store’s eclectic vinyl collection. “There are things to discover here,” says Hodgkins.

Lagniappe Records stocks more traditional albums for those new to collecting vinyl, but they also boast some truly unique finds. “You’ll find Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours here, but you can also get deeper stuff like [Nigerian musician] Fela Kuti,” says Hodgkins. “We have all kinds of goodies.”

The two-room converted house creates an intimate setting for patrons to peruse more than 4,000 records the couple has acquired over the years. Brunet and Hodgkins constantly search out and buy collections, so much so that they boast an off-site inventory from two years’ worth of collecting. “We are 100% records,” says Brunet. “We have a little bit of everything, and all of it is in great shape.”

The couple weeds out lower-quality vinyl. The vast majority of their albums has a vinyl grading of very good-plus (VG+) or better.

Brunet and Hodgkins each have been involved with the music industry to some degree. Before moving to Baton Rouge, the couple lived in Nashville, where Hodgkins did session work and Brunet self-released two solo albums. For two years, they mostly sold their inventory online before looking for a brick-and-mortar store.

“We always wanted to have something more personable,” Brunet explains. “There’s nothing like going through vinyl with your fingers, picking up a record and checking it out for yourself.”

The couple eyed Baton Rouge when they decided to pursue vinyl full-time, believing they could contribute in bigger ways to the developing vinyl scene. “We wanted to be back in Louisiana,” says Hodgkins.

Brunet says their friends here offered them a support system they couldn’t find elsewhere. “That became a major deciding factor in moving to Baton Rouge,” she says. “There are so many creative people invested in making the community better. It’s a really great feeling.”

It’s clear that Brunet and Hodgkins like to extend the same kind of welcome. The store’s small size breeds a jovial affiliation among Brunet, Hodgkins and their customers. “We like when customers stay and chat for a while,” Brunet says. “It’s not a cold vibe here.”

The warmth also comes from the store’s “mascot,” Agnes the Cockatiel, who greets everyone who enters and adds to the store’s charm. “A lot of birds are attached to one person, but she just loves everybody,” says Brunet. “Many people come in and walk right up to the cage to put her on their shoulder.”

In fact, Agnes has developed something of a following among patrons and friends. She now has her own Instagram hashtag, #agnesthecockatiel.

Aside from selling vinyl, Brunet and Hodgkins envision their space as one that supports local and independent musical talent. Lagniappe Records often hosts small music shows in order to expose the local community to a range of musicians.

“We’ve made a lot of friends throughout our travels, so if they’re coming through, we’ll have them here,” says Hodgkins.