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The community bands together to save Reactionary Records 

Alex Knoel takes customer appreciation to another level

Times are tough and the business of selling records is a rollercoaster ride that rises and falls with the floundering economy. But when Alex Knoel learned that his favorite record shop, Reactionary Records, was in danger of going out of business, he decided to do something about it. Reactionary co-owner Paul Tilghmon was already putting together a festival, the first of an annual punk rock blowout. But as soon as Knoel caught wind of it he grabbed the reins. "Reactionary is the only place where I can see my old band's sticker stuck on the counter by the register," Knoel says as he taps the Barberries sticker on the glass case that shows off a spread of CDs and collectible odds and ends from the Saints, Minor Threat and Bonnie "Prince" Billy. "It's a great record store and I'm kind of a workaholic, so I wanted to help out."

Knoel agreed to book some bands for the festival and use it as a benefit for the store. He sent e-mails to 20-plus bands. "I hoped to hear back from 10 of them, but I started getting one confirmation after another," he adds. And not all of the confirmations were from Atlanta bands.

Locals bands Predator, Vegan Coke, the Balkans and long-defunct punk foursome the Frantic are playing the show. John Barrett's Bass Drum of Death from Oxford, Miss., will be performing as well. Pipsqueak is coming from San Francisco, and Cars Can Be Blue is driving in from Athens. All told, 23 bands are playing, and a handful of DJs are spinning records.

But Tilghmon doesn't feel right about taking all of the money for the store. Out-of-town bands will be given gas money, production costs will be paid, and he's buying a bunch of barbecue for everyone who pays the cover. "I don't want to sound like we're a sinking ship, but times are tough," Tilghmon says. "If we can make a couple months of rent from the show, we'll be in good shape."

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