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‘We can’t let the music die’: Kelowna’s Milkcrate Records takes final bow

It’s not just any record store, Milkcrate Records is a vital lifeline of Kelowna’s music scene and it’s about to disappear from Lawrence Avenue.

“We can’t let the music die,” said Richard Rafton, Milkcrate Records owner.

Known not only for its great record selection, Milkcrate was a key connection for local artists and music lovers. Employees would welcome anyone through the doors for coffee, a slice of pie and record spinning during the day. At night it became a place where musicians, poets and authors could come together in the name of art.

“Right from the beginning we have been known as Kelowna’s community music store, and community to us is the keyword for us.

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“We are all about supporting not just the local music scene but live music in general,” Rafton said.

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After five years of fostering local talent and allowing it to blossom on-stage, Rafton said it’s time to say goodbye to the beloved record store, after losing a dispute with the landlord.

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“We have all been grieving over the last couple of weeks – it’s like we have lost a family member,” he said.

“The really positive thing with our closing is the tremendous outpouring of support we are getting form the community. We have heard from everyone who has played here over the years.”

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The news has been devastating for many of Kelowna’s musicians.

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“Milkcrate actively found this space to be a part of the community and to be a service to the community, and it really was,” said Scott Gibson, musician and vinyl cutter.

“There’s so much just brilliant local music in here and they’ve been fantastic about making sure the money gets to the artist.”

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The musicians saying that it’s a loss that won’t soon be forgotten.

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“It’s just a really special place that Kelowna really needs,” said musician Anthony Martens.

“It’s not just a store. that’s the funny thing, its a community. Milkcrate just really had that vibe. Rich [Rafton] and the team really gave back to the artistic community and championed us, local artists.”

Milkcrate has plans to help build a co-op for musicians at some point in the future, but until then it will be selling vinyl at pop-up events around the valley.

The final show at Milkcrate records will be Saturday, Sept. 28 with the OK Collective and on Sunday, Sept. 29 there will be a grand finale to send off Milkcrate with a bang.