MORE THAN MUSIC: Michel’s Record Shop has been a mainstay in downtown Vicksburg for generations
Published 11:08 am Wednesday, August 8, 2018
In 2013, a large fire on Washington Street gutted a local restaurant. Fortunately, it was contained and no other buildings caught fire. However, Michel’s Record Shop, which sits adjacent to the restaurant, was saturated with water. To make things worse, Timmie Fedell, who owns Michel’s, was not allowed into her place of business until the fire marshal said it was safe, nearly a week later.
When the OK was given, Fedell’s daughter, Melba Mitchell, said what they saw was devastating.
Not only was there water damage, everything in the store was covered with mold and mildew, she said.
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But, to the family’s relief the most important thing in the record shop had survived without injury – a jacket that had been worn by Fedell’s husband, Michel.
“That was the main thing Mama was worried about not being there, Mitchell said, “But when we walked in, Daddy’s jacket was the first thing we saw and I said ‘Mama here it is.’”
Michel Fedell has been deceased for 21 years, but his wife continued to leave his coat hanging on a door inside the store, just as he had always done since opening the record store on May 11, 1962.
Michel Fedell had always been involved with music, his wife said. Before opening the record shop, he and B.B. Deaton started D&F Music Company in 1947. Fedell said the company sold jukeboxes, and Deaton and her husband would also travel to establishments to load them.
When the partnership dissolved, Fedell said her husband decided to do what he knew best. That was music, and he opened Michel’s Record Shop.
Starting out, Fedell said she and her husband sold 33 and 45-RPM vinyl records.
“When we first started we had salesmen that would come by and they would bring albums and 45s with them, and if they did not have what we wanted they would ship it to us,” Fedell said.
The couple also carried band instruments, guitars, amplifiers and PA systems in their record shop.
Posters were also sold, but since the fire, Fedell said she no longer carries them.
However, there were some in her collection that were not totally destroyed from water damage and they are displayed along the walls.
Autographed pictures by some of the couple’s favorite musicians and an autographed guitar by Blues legend Willie Dixon are also on display.
“Willie Dixon was a friend of my Dad’s. They grew up together on Main Street,” Mitchell said.
Dixon was a regular in the couple’s music store.
“Willie Dixon used to come in here all the time. He was born here in Vicksburg and he lived out in California. He would come here two or three times a year and we would always get a group of teenagers to come in and play with him and he would show them some of his licks,” Fedell said.
A makeshift stage has always been located in the rear of Michel’s Record Shop and many times Dixon would play there as would other performers.
“Everybody calls it the stage, but it is the Blues porch,”Fedell said, “Because of the roof, the chicken and I have got a little brown jug up there.”
In addition to musical performances at Michel’s, the couple also held autograph signings.
One day, Fedell said, they had nine Blues artists in at one time for an autograph session.
Other notable musicians who made their way to the River City and visited included Natalie Cole, B.B. King, Dorothy Moore, Ferrante & Teicher, Kenny Rogers the Doobie Brothers.
“The Doobie Brothers came in to sign autographs in 1998. They were here for about four hours. It was so much fun. People were lined up at the door to seem them,” Mitchell said.
And, one year, Mitchell said, Elvis’ gold Cadillac sat in front of their store.
“People could go sit in it and take pictures in it,” she said.
Michel’s Record Shop, which has been a family-owned business, with all three of the Fedell’s children and even at times grandchildren working there, has been a mainstay in Vicksburg.
What began as a shop that sold vinyls, 8-tracks, CDs and now vinyls again, has become so much more. With all the memorabilia the Fedells amassed through the years, not only does Michel’s Record Shop offer retail supplies it has also become a stopping point for those traveling the Blues Trail.
“I have a lot of people that come from England, Australia, Japan, all the countries, and they love to come in here, and they get so excited,” Fedell said.
One day a visitor from Japan came in to Michel’s, Fedell said, and she was talking to him about Willie Dixon.
“He loved Willie Dixon, so I was showing him some of the pictures I had,” she said.
Fedell also has a stool that Dixon always sat on when he came in and played.
“The guy asked if I minded if he sat on the stool and I said no. So he sat down and then all of the sudden he jumped up and hollered ‘I felt the vibes.’”
Fedell is lovingly known around town as “the music lady” and even though Mitchell said folks come in the store because they know her mother knows the Blues, Fedell said she enjoys all types of music.
“I play music for whatever mood I am in,” Fedell said.
One can only wonder what’s playing at Michel’s Record Shop today?