Vinyl fans invited to Edmonton Music Collectors Show
By Lacey Morris
EDMONTON — Music enthusiasts, clear some space in your collections and prepare yourselves for the city’s second annual Music Collectors Show, to be held at Sherbrooke Community Hall on April 22.
The show, organized by local music collectors George Gawlak and Dave Chorley, gives Edmonton’s top music retailers and independent vendors a chance to showcase sales items to collectors from across Alberta. The show also gives music fans exposure to a smorgasbord of vinyl, CDs, cassettes, books, posters, apparel and just about every other kind of music memorabilia you could possibly imagine.
Gawlak reignited the idea to throw an annual music collector’s show in Edmonton a dozen years after a similar event that used to be hosted in the city had ceased to exist.
“It’s a service to the music-collecting community of Edmonton and surrounding areas,” Gawlak said. “It’s a way of bringing everybody together who is interested.”
The inaugural Music Collector’s Show was held at the Sherbrooke Community Hall, 13008 122 Ave, in April of 2011.
“It got to the point where I think that most of us here in town, most of the collectors all kind of knew each other, and we’d been talking about putting this together again to sort of resurrect it. And then finally last year was the first time we did it,” Gawlak said.
He and Chorley got the event off the ground, having both retired and finding themselves with a lot of spare time on their hands.
Resurgence of Vinyl
Gawlak described the first show as a “roaring success,” giving credit to the flourishing resurgence of vinyl, a format that was believed to have grown obsolete as compact discs emerged in the 1990s, but began to see new life within the last few years.
“The last three years or so it’s been astronomical,” said Kris Burwash, owner of Listen Records. “Five years ago or so I was selling 90 per cent CDs and now it’s 90 per cent vinyl…I think part of it is there’s the tail end of kids that grew up with vinyl at home, but I think the biggest factor is more the digital stuff really made people able to consume a lot of music but as people are getting a little older and whatnot they’re realizing that listening to a hundred albums a month isn’t as exciting as just really getting to know a few albums.”
Burwash opened his store in 2001 as a sort of homage to his favourite hobby: collecting music. As someone who prefers vinyl above all other formats, he empathized with other music enthusiasts, knowing through first-hand experience that it could be incredibly difficult to acquire the kind of stuff that really struck his fancy.
“Mostly I was finding I was mail-ordering records, which I thought in a city this size was silly,” Burwash said. “So I was like, ‘OK, if I can’t get the stuff I want on vinyl then maybe there needs to be a better store.’ So I figured maybe I should try to do it.”
Like Gawlak, Burwash believes that there is something enticing about seeking out a tangible stock of tunes by your favourite bands and musicians, as opposed to logging on to torrent websites and downloading complete discographies to your hard drive. Burwash said that this is where the line is drawn between simply wanting to listen to music and collecting it.
“At this point, if you’re still buying music you’re collecting,” Burwash said, “and if you’re going to collect, vinyl’s definitely more collectible across the board. There are limited editions and coloured vinyl and all kinds of bells and whistles, and frankly, you don’t get that with CDs.
Gawlak links a significant amount of his passion for music collecting to the aesthetic appeal of vinyl.
“Records for instance are quite substantial,” he said. “They’re 12 inches by 12 inches and you can put them up on the wall if you want to and the covers can act as decoration. I remember how excited I used to get to buy a certain record and you could pull a poster out or there might be some sort of insert or gimmick.”
Gawlak also said that much of the appeal comes from the actual process of putting a record on to play.
“Pulling that record out and holding it in your hands and putting it on the turntable — there’s sort of a certain process you go through and I think that adds to the listening pleasure.”
Young and Old
Gawlak and Burwash both noted that it’s been interesting to see the various age groups that vinyl has attracted over the past few years, saying that the format has basically bridged the gap between generations. Young people are looking to invest in turntables for the first time while their elders are digging their antiquated players out of basements, dusting them off and replacing worn out old needles with new ones.
“You see younger people getting into it, and older people even,” Burwash said. “I find a lot of guys coming in that sold off all their records in the ‘80s and ‘90s and now they’re getting back into it. Their kids got into vinyl and now they’re getting back into it and they’ll come in with their kids and they’re both buying the same records. Over the last 10 years it’s been interesting to watch my customer base actually getting a bit older.”
Young people do, however, make up a significant percentage of the vinyl collecting demographic, with more of them exhibiting interest in what was once believed to be an outdated format, further exploring conventional and hybrid genres and ultimately expanding their musical tastes.
“Perhaps they’re discovering the same thing that I discovered as a teenager — which is the fact that there is a certain joy to collecting,” Gawlak said.
Morgan Noseworthy, a local 28-year-old music enthusiast can relate. He’s been collecting records for 12 years.
“It’s the cover art and the sound,” he said. “Vinyl is the real deal. Music sounds better if it’s recorded using analog equipment (like older records). You can’t emulate that sound with a digital recording and you can’t go from digital to analog, but you can go from analog to digital.”
A regular traveler, Noseworthy compares shopping for records to shopping for souvenirs while visiting new places.
“When I put a record on, it brings back memories of when and where I picked it up,” he said. “I spent $400 on records in LA and $400 in New York.”
Record Store Day
Edmonton’s Music Collectors Show happens in the wake of international Record Store Day, which falls on the third Saturday of April every year. Record Store Day —a celebration of the art of music — came to fruition in 2007 at the hands of a group of record store owners, employees and music enthusiasts. Every year a popular era-defying musician is given the title ‘Official Ambassador’ of Record Store Day. This year’s ambassador is Iggy Pop (of the 1960s-70s protopunk band, The Stooges).
The Edmonton Music Collectors show caters to enthusiasts of all ages, giving children, teenagers, adults and elders the opportunity to unite and celebrate a common interest.
Local music retailers that will be in attendance include:
- Listen Records (10443 124 St)
- Freecloud Records (10764 101 St)
- Permanent Records (8126 Gateway Blvd.)
- Blackbyrd Moozik (10442 82 Ave)
- Sound Connection (10016 82 Ave)
“[This year] we’ve got vendors coming in from BC, up from Calgary, from Saskatchewan so there should be an injection of new stuff, which will be great for all the music collectors,” Gawlak said.
The show opens with the annual tradition of ‘First Choice Hour’. From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. the most hardcore of the music-collecting crowd is welcome to pay an extra $5 at the door to get first crack at what will be up for grabs.
Regular show hours run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door.
Demand to Expand
Collectors and vendors from Edmonton and area might just be lucky enough to catch the show again this year, some time in the fall. Gawlak said that there are plans to make the event bi-annual, with regular spring and fall dates.
“We had one last April, but the demand has been such from both collectors and vendors that we’re definitely going to put on a show in the fall as well.”
“Right now, all of the 40 vendor tables [we have] were just about sold out around Christmas,” he said. “We have a waiting list of about another dozen people. We could have had perhaps 60 or 70 tables and we can only accommodate 40 at Sherbrooke. So I can see this being quite popular and we want to give everybody the opportunity to participate if they want to.”