Sunday, 22 April 2012

Semi-Annual Vinyl Extravaganza

Today was a day off for me, so I took advantage by driving into Ottawa this morning to attend the semi-annual Ottawa Record Show at St. Anthony's Hall on Preston Street in Little Italy. It was absolutely packed today as collectors fought for elbow room to flip through the LPs offered for sale by a very good assortment of dealers from Ottawa, Kingston, and Montreal. I probably have a nice collection of bruises on my ribs and arms from being jostled and banged, and my feet got stepped on more than once, but it was a great time.

I'm always surprised by the number of young collectors that come out to these shows, and how interested they are in vintage vinyl. When you figure that digital audio technology revolutionized the way we buy and listen to music in the early 1980s with the advent of the compact disc, thirty years ago, many of the young collectors I saw this morning were still but a gleam in their mama's eye. How energizing it is to have to compete with them for that hard-to-find copy of Jade Warrior or Bill Evans!

Nice as well to see people sitting in the outdoor cafes along Preston Street afterwards, despite the very chilly weather, sharing their finds with each other. Vinyl record albums have a power over us to bring out smiles of pleasure that newer formats just can't match. Part of it is the cover art, which has plenty of room to work with on a 12.25-inch surface, part of it is in the liner notes, which you can read without a magnifying glass, and part of it is finding a pristine copy of a vintage gem with absolutely no scratches or scuffs, despite the fact it was sold forty years ago.

For many people it's also a social event, as collectors have a chance to talk about their hobby with the folks on the other side of the table who scour the woodwork for their stock. I had a chance to shoot the breeze for a while with Charles de Lint, the well-known urban fantasy author who is also a musician and vinyl vendor. He was selling all his records for $3 a pop, a phenomenal price given that they were all in perfect condition and covered all the genres I was looking for. We chatted as I raided his bins, ending up with 12 great finds, including a couple of early Bonnie Raitt albums (1973 and 1974) missing from my shelves.

It was that kind of day.

When all the fun was done, I'd bought a total of 35 albums for a total outlay of 85 bucks. Not a bad day's work, as far as I'm concerned. Now I'm going to flip over to Pinterest and post some jpgs of covers of some of my best finds. Come on over and check them out! Just click on the "Follow me on Pinterest" button at the top of the blog.

See you there!


  1. I read somewhere that vinyl is making a huge comeback despite CD's and mp3's taking over the market. I guess when it comes to nostalgia you can't be the old vinyl and the way it makes you feel. I've never even owned one and yet whenever I see one I immediately think of the Hollywood golden era. You did well to get 35 for $85. Glad you had a good time.

  2. Yes, and when you use the word "nostalgia" you remind me of something that's obvious in retrospect but that I failed to mention in my post. These young collectors are not necessarily buying the records as objects but for the music, which is very interesting. I've noticed some very definite threads to the past in the music of young indie musicians that makes it clear these recordings are being valued for the music that made them so beloved to my generation. Groove on!