Maybe it’s the sound quality of vinyl. Maybe it’s the album cover artwork or perhaps it harkens back to a way of life gone by, but the Nanaimo Record Show is proof of the rising popularity of vinyl records on the Island.
The fifth-annual Nanaimo Record Show happens Sunday, April 7, at Bowen Park activity centre.
“We have 312 feet of records, maybe double that if you go two boxes deep,” said Jack Tieleman, show organizer. “So it’s 34 tables with dealers from everywhere from Powell River to Victoria to the Lower Mainland coming over.”
Tieleman said this year’s show has doubled in size over the one held in 2018.
Why are vinyl records so popular? Tieleman said it’s the experience of holding a record in your hands. Records can be damaged and require special care to handle, play and preserve, which brings value to owning and listening to them, unlike MP3 recordings that exist as digital files that can’t be seen or touched.
“It’s hard to scratch an MP3. You never had a beat-up MP3 skipping because your brother played it at a party,” Tieleman said. “When you look at a record it triggers a response from you. It’s sort of a throwback to the past and way of life that doesn’t exist anymore.
“It’s much like turning the pages of a newspaper. You know how people say, ‘I just want to go through the paper. I don’t want to read it online. I want to play my records.’ So now we have guys getting back into records and young people starting to build collections. They’ve gotten records from their aunts and uncles and friends and they’ve pulled them out of crawlspaces. It’s a way to explore music that’s very different from going online.”
Analog recordings pressed into vinyl and played through a turntable also produce a much different sound compared to digital recordings.
“It’s a much warmer sound and there’s separation because the sound files are not compressed, so that makes it a warmer experience and also sometimes it has a little bit of a crackle,” Tieleman said. “That’s sort of special because you know it’s been played before and loved. I have a beat up old Led Zeppelin record that was my brother’s and it crackles and, you know, it skips and I wouldn’t trade it for the world because it’s got history to it. It’s got that patina like you would have with an antique or something like that.”
There’s also the appearance of the album covers that tell stories of who owned and enjoyed them. Tieleman recently acquired a Bee Gees album. A former owner had written inside the album cover the graduation date and age of each Bee Gee member and stuck Mad Magazine stickers in it as well.
The worldwide community of record collectors includes those who specialize in specific music genres or recording labels. There are collectors, for instance, who focus almost entirely on Capitol 6000 series of long-play albums produced in Canada from 1960 to 1987 with album cover artwork and song track lists that were often unique to the Canadian market. Tieleman recalled visiting a record store in Japan that sold nothing but Beatles music.
The record selection at this year’s record show promises to be as diverse as last year’s which featured everything from Fleetwood Mac to eastern European progressive rock.
Tieleman said there will also be a wide variety of prices from $1 records to $100 records.
“So if you have a budget you’ll be able to find something,” he said.
The show runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $2 and free for children under 12. Proceeds from concession sales will support the Nanaimo Navy League and Sea Cadets.