Monday, December 11, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

Late Tampa punk fixture Bud Mayhem's record collection goes on sale

TAMPA

Erin Stoy riffled through a box of vintage vinyl at the Sound Exchange. Punk, electronic and avant-garde, mostly. Iggy Pop. Brian Eno. Kraftwerk. The Residents.

A couple of shoppers ogled over her shoulder as she pulled out a copy of the ambient, experimental soundtrack to David Lynch's 1977 film Eraserhead.

"This one will go fast," she said.

"Oh my god," an onlooker moaned. "My brother-in-law would lose his mind over that."

Yeah: Bud Mayhem had that kind of collection.

The musician and performance artist was a fixture of Tampa's art-punk scene until his death in 2014 at age 55. Last fall, his family sold his vast and eclectic music collection, including some 700 vinyl records, to the Sound Exchange. After weeks of sorting and pricing, it'll go on sale Saturday in an event they're calling "Bud Mayhem Day" — the disassembling of his lifetime of music, album by album.

"I've been doing this for 30 years," said Sound Exchange owner Ron Stoy, Erin's father. "Every once in a while, something comes along that sticks out as out of the ordinary. This was one that really stuck out."

To friends of Mayhem — born Harry Archibald Mayhue Jr. — it's no surprise that a party has popped up in his honor.

"He was always enthusiastic about always trying to get something going," said Tampa artist Ken Echezabal. "He was always a scenemaker. He was always trying to get a party going."

Mayhem held several jobs over the years, many tangentially connected to the moving image — teleconferencing, video production, cinema projection — but all of it was just a way to support his many artistic endeavors. He fronted an experimental noise-punk band, Strange Agents, and hosted a program on WMNF-FM 88.5 called Difficult Listening, which served as an outlet for all of his most avant-garde tastes.

"He was ahead of his time, and I do feel like he was a genius," said friend and collaborator Kelly Fry, who's producing a documentary about him. "He just had this way of pulling things together that was so different."

When Mayhem died from a chronic illness, friends and family held a colorful memorial service at the Tampa Theatre.

"A lot of people went on stage and told Bud Mayhem stories," Echezabal said. "One girl tried to communicate with him from the other side. That was interesting. He would've liked that."

Mayhem's music came to the Sound Exchange the same as any other collection — a family member, in this case Bud's sister, brought a box by to ascertain its value. The first box contained mostly Cs — John Cale, Captain Beefheart, Cabaret Voltaire. Intrigued, the Stoys asked for more.

"When you go through boxes of records every day, you get the same things over and over," Erin said. "Even stuff that's good quality, like the Beatles and Zeppelin, you're like, Oh, god, there's another one of those. Therefore it's a real joy when something comes across and it's like, I don't know who this is. Who is this?"

Like any record collection, Mayhem's covers wide and varied territory. There's plenty of stuff that's good but not so rare — David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Talking Heads. Other oddities defy categorization — an album by Mr. Rogers, another by Divine, a collection of whale sounds, the soundtrack to Godzilla Vs. Your Mother, Kurt Vonnegut reading Slaughterhouse-Five.

But the concentration of punk and avant-garde music was unlike anything the Stoys had seen. Laurie Anderson. Lydia Lunch. Diamanda Galas. Warhead. Einstürzende Neubauten. Negativland. Nurse With Wound.

These names won't mean anything to most music fans, but that's kind of the point. Their obscurity makes them highly coveted among hard-core fans and collectors. Judging by the price stickers, Mayhem had traveled far and wide to amass it all, from Tampa shops like the Sound Exchange and Vinyl Fever to stores in California and Europe.

"This is not just another box of records, or another 10 boxes of records," Ron said. "This is a very concentrated, curated collection of that type of music."

The Stoys declined to say how much the Sound Exchange paid for the collection, only that it was in the four figures. They also got books, posters, memorabilia and even Mayhem's theremin — a sensory electronic instrument the Stoys opted to keep.

Individually, the pieces might be worth more to specific collectors, especially if the shop sold them online. But because everything is going on the racks in Tampa, it'll all be priced to move. The most expensive item, a Japanese version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, is $80. Most records are far less.

How would Mayhem feel about the breakup and sale of his collection? Fry isn't sure.

"Bud could be kind of a rascal and yell at people," she said. "I almost feel like he would be like, 'All these g--d--- people, looking through my stuff! You should've found it on your own!' "

     
     
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