Vinyl is one art medium that has seen a strong return in recent years, a testament to the fact that the format’s enduring sound and qualities are still beloved by many, as evidenced by Ottawa’s Annual Community Record Show.
Now in its fifteenth edition, and roughly seven and a half years, the show has grown exponentially over the years but still maintains its promise of providing an “all killer, no filler” selection of predominantly vinyl records for people to buy and sell.
Organizer Dave Aardvark said the sale was huge right from the start.
“The first [Record Show] was at Sandy Hill Community Centre and was so packed, I immediately realized I needed a bigger room!” said Dave Aardvark. “It was started because the other record shows at the time just weren’t cutting it, so myself and John Westhaver of Birdman Sound decided we could host them and bring them back to their glory days.”
The essence of the Record Show’s intrigue lies in the ability of music lovers all around to gather in one place for hours, uninterrupted, and dig through collections of new or hidden, maybe forgotten, gems.
“I think it is a rare opportunity to browse tens of thousands of records all in one place, and personally a great place to find some new records and sometimes records I have been struggling to find elsewhere,” Aardvark said. “It can also be a good place to meet and encounter like-minded individuals—music freaks, nerds!”
For many, vinyl is a method of listening to music in its purest, most tangible, and enveloping form. Such is the case for Aardvark, whose affinity for vinyl, in part, derives from his ability to physically “hold” the music he buys.
“I like music that is tangible, has an aesthetic, artwork, and lyrics you can hold, read—that’s what I grew up with,” he said. “Sounds better to me on a good stereo than many of the other ways people listen to music these days.”
Coupled with the tangible and aesthetic nature of vinyl, there is a type of “warmth” that many people associate with LPs—an inherent quality that CDs and almost all digital music lack.
“Each serve their purpose,” said Aardvark, when addressing the macro debate of analog vs. digital in today’s music culture. “But analog always sounds warmer to me. Digital recording is important too because it is more affordable for emerging bands and practically universal anyway. Depending on how recordings are mastered, they can sound better or worse on any format. In the end, I will still buy a record if [it is] available, and it will receive more attention [from me] because of it.”
Aardvark’s passion for records runs deep and, as such, they will always be a fixed part of his life, long after the apparent renaissance of today’s vinyl resurgence.
“Vinyl will always be around,” Aardvark said. “But we are hitting the ceiling of interest again on new and used records as they are becoming too expensive for most people. The hype will go away, and frankly, most of us that have always been vinyl junkies will breathe a sigh of relief.”
For Aardvark, and many of the attendees of the Record Show, vinyl’s timeless sound and format is more than a trend, and it’s not going away anytime soon. •
Best find: In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson.
Why? Just because it’s a super rare record and you actually can’t find the album online at all. So unless you buy a physical copy you can’t listen to it.
Best find: Probably this record right here—The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff.
Why? I mean, it’s just, every single song on here is amazing and it’s the best reggae. Like, this is a soundtrack from a movie and it’s just really great reggae!
Best find: Probably both of these—People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, the original one, by Tribe Called Quest and Donald Byrd’s Best, but it’s an older one, a rarer one.
Why? Well [People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm] is one of my favorite records. It’s an early rap record. They’re my favorite group. And this guy, Donald Byrd, is a crazy trumpet player. It’s like funk music. He’s one of the best trumpeters and he took jazz to another level.
Best find: Probably The Full Treatment by Aggression. They’re a Canadian band—a very, very good one.
Why? Because I always wanted to find [it] and it’s a very rare album! I’m also a collector of [records from] the label Banzai Records; it’s a Canadian label
Best find: Dark Star’s self titled album Dark Star from 1981
Why? Well it’s an album from what’s called the “new wave of British heavy metal.” Essentially, a movement or a scene in the early 80s in the UK and it was all kinds of bands releasing all kinds of indie albums and they’re very hard to come by on these shores. So any time I can find one, I’m all about it. I mean, obviously everybody’s heard of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, which are from that scene, but there were hundreds of bands so I’m very excited to get this.
Best find: Ashanti’s self titled 2002 album Ashanti.
Why? Because it’s cheesy and I just wanted something that wasn’t [like] the usual stuff you see at a lot of record fairs.