Predawn songs for frozen February mornings
Music Curation: Josh Harden (@baptistsandbootleggers)
Words & Images: Josh Harden & Paul Costianes
Editor’s Note: I’ve been a “playlist” fan since the days of the mixtape. With the introduction of streaming music services, it’s become a habit of mine to save songs that catch my ear and build out monthly playlists that show where I’m at mentally, spiritually, and emotionally at a given time. When we kicked off 55 Cities, it made sense to use these playlists to set a tone that runs through our stories each month. The “Listen” series was an important baby step in our writing, and has become a recurring set of stories and music that is important to the central themes of the 55 Cities project.
Now the time feels right to expand this concept a bit and use the “Listen” series as a means of letting others tell their stories. In the coming months, we’ll begin to introduce you, our dear readers, to friends of the blog through the music that they love and a bit of mixed media storytelling to give you a glimpse into who they are.
First up, we’d like to introduce you to Josh.
I first met Josh Harden many years ago, hanging out in the same circles of friends and bonding through conversations about the state of music, the pros and cons of Airstream travel and life in Myrtle Beach, and scores of other topics that tend to come up over more than a few beers. He’s a distinct voice, and a true example of what it looks like to answer to your own calling. This inherent drive to live his own life continues to evolve with every new phase of his journey as an entrepreneur, music aficionado, a veritable encyclopedia of fine bourbon and spirits, lover of Nascar, and art.
Josh is a harbinger of cool, and the most famous person you’ve never heard of in fashion. You’ve probably been exposed to his ideas indirectly every time you shop for clothing. His businesses based in Columbus, Ohio, a major retail hub, have been trailblazing trends for major brands for over 15 years. He’s been early to market on trends like vintage band t-shirts, flannels, jerseys, crop tops, daisy dukes, upcycled vintage items, and many, many more. In fact, scouts from major retail brands still frequent his store on a quarterly basis to “borrow” ideas for upcoming seasons. In typical fashion, he shrugs it off and chalks it up as a compliment.
He’s also a source of interesting and colorful stories that, with any luck, you’ll be able to read on this publication in the near future. Without any further ado, we bring you our profile of Josh Harden, presented in three acts.
Meet Josh: A Day in the Life
Act I: The Light
Practicing the art of early rising
You wake up EARLY. What’s your morning ritual look like?
I like to get up early in the morning because its still quiet and traffic is low. I’ll usually have some water, stretch and get my body ready for the morning ride. I picked up cycling a couple years ago as a way to stay in shape, because I hate going to gyms, and it’s become one of my favorite things to do. I started out by riding to work, then got addicted to being outside for exercise and bought a second bike with drop bars and a racing feel.
I ride pretty much everyday, and I’m up to about 20 miles a day on the weekdays and a longer ride on the weekends. It’s how I get my head right in the mornings before I go to work.
What’s your food situation look like in the mornings? Grand Slam breakfast or something small?
I’m not really a breakfast person, but coffee is required. I’ll spend a little more for great coffee from roasters that are interesting. I’ve been gifted subscriptions to Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia, so those brands are on rotation right now.
Cold brew is currently my method of choice, so I’ll set up a jar of that at night and it’ll be ready by the time I finish my morning ride.
Act II: The Rigamaroo
Workin’ hard for the money
How did you get started selling vintage? In what ways has the concept evolved over the years?
I started selling vintage clothing and band t-shirts on eBay in 2005. Over time, this turned into Ghetto Vintage, a mobile vintage shop based out of an Airstream trailer that we took to concerts, festivals and other events in the warmer months of the year. Clothing Underground is a brick and mortar shop located in the University District in Columbus, Ohio, that I started as a way to keep working during the colder months of the year. When the market started to get saturated with reprints of vintage tees, we started to screen print our own designs and upcycle our vintage items into crop tops and tanks. Eventually, it grew into my primary business.
What are some important skills you’ve used to build your business?
You’ve got to love what you’re doing. That’s by far the most important part of it. I love thrifting and still hit the local shops on a weekly basis. It’s one of the best parts of my week. Being comfortable wearing multiple hats is also important. On an average day I’m playing store manager, stocking shelves, fixing HVAC or broken fixtures, handling store security, or marketing through our various channels. You’ve got to embrace that and be ready for whatever weird things happen, because the weirdest things will.
What’s the future look like?
Who knows? I’m riding out the brick and mortar store for as long as it makes sense. So far we’ve got a good business going that moves seasonally, so I can relax in the warmer months. Partnerships with local online businesses as a pickup location has been something I’ve been exploring to keep traffic up in slower months. I’ve got a few new ideas in the works outside of this store, so the future is kind of unwritten at the moment.
Act III: Just Like a Baby
At the end of the day…
How do you unwind at the end of the day?
Usually it’s grabbing dinner and a drink. I’ve got a collection of Bourbon and Mezcal that’s probably gotten too big, but that hasn’t stopped me from adding to it. I’ll either make a cocktail or a pour of something from the cabinet and throw on a record or watch tv. I’ve got a pretty extensive record collection and some hard to find recordings from thrifting, but I haven’t been listening as much lately. TV has been king.
What’s something in your home that makes it uniquely yours?
Having art and photography around the house that I’ve picked up along the way is important. There’s a unique story around all of these. I was lucky enough to run across a bunch of artwork from Grandpa Smoky Brown. I identified with his stuff immediately, so I picked up as many as I could at the time and they’re some of my favorites.
Listen: 02.26.2020 by Josh Harden
Predawn Songs for Frozen February Mornings
About the Music
This list of songs gives you an idea of what I’m listening to on those cold morning rides when the sky is clear, the roads are silent and the world hasn’t quite woken up yet. Hopefully you can put this on during the day and get into that same headspace.
- The Light – The Album Leaf
- Fail Safe – William Tyler
- Time – Angelo De Augustine
- Rolling Sea – Vetiver
- Martha Sways – Andy Shauf
- Roscoe – Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve Remix – Midlake, Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve
- Your Hand In Mine – Explosions In The Sky
- Tugboat – Galaxie 5000
- Time – Ty Segall, White Fence
- David’s Dream – Death
- Signals – Júniús Meyvant
- At the Edge of the Wood – Dead Meadow
- Kogarashi – Kikagaku Moyo
- Rigamaroo – Sleepy Sun
- World of Shit – Eels
- Vitamin C – Can
- Jello and Juggernauts – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
- Rules – Khruangbin
- Colorado Girl – Townes Van Zandt
- Morning Theft – Jeff Buckley
- Nothing Lasts Forever – The Kinks
- Nobody – Mac DeMarco
- Primrose Green – Ryley Walker
- How to Fight Loneliness – Wilco
- Just Like a Baby – Sly & The Family Stone
- Maggot Brain – Funkadelic
©2020 55 Cities
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