Sit down and chat with the trio who’s responsible for bringing back the Port Townsend Record Show for a fifth year, and you’ll find an amiable, avidly enthusiastic bunch who, like fans of …
Sit down and chat with the trio who’s responsible for bringing back the Port Townsend Record Show for a fifth year, and you’ll find an amiable, avidly enthusiastic bunch who, like fans of all pursuits, love talking about their hobby and how much it’s meant to their lives, which they’ll readily admit is part of the whole point of their event.
Co-organizer Chuck Moses of Resurrection Vinyl was there for the first year of the record show, which he credited former Quimper Sound owner Mark Herring and the LP Browser’s Jim Overly with initiating.
“It was the first record show I sold at,” Moses said.
Current Quimper Sound owner James Schultz, who sponsors the Port Townsend Record Show, recounted how the show was dreamt up during discussions at his store five years ago and was inspired by local record collectors’ desire to meet and trade their wares and invite other record dealers throughout the region.
While Overly eventually became too busy with other projects and Herring ultimately moved away, Schultz and co-organizer Nate Malmgren, of SoundXchange came on board, and the Port Townsend Record Show has grown every year.
Malmgren counted 763 attendees last year between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. — the event lasts until 5 p.m., but they stopped keeping track after 4 p.m. — while all three organizers agreed that roughly 30,000 records were collected in one place for that show.
“And these are not records that people just grabbed out of their junk drawers,” Schultz said.
“We get coveted collectables, often originals,” Moses said.
Malmgren confirmed that 30 dealers would be on site for this year’s record show, including three from Portland, Oregon, and the rest from Washington state, as far as Seattle and Tacoma, and as near as Sequim and Port Angeles.
“We try to showcase local folks as much as we can,” Malmgren said.
“There are a lot of collectors in our areas who are enthusiastic about vinyl,” Schultz said. “You’ll see them spend more money here than they will during a music festival.”
“They save their money and wait for this record show,” Moses said. “People like digging through the albums by hand rather than looking things up online because you can find albums here that you won’t find elsewhere.”
Malmgren touted the Port Townsend Record Show as “the largest rural record show in the state,” which matters because Moses sees the potential stock for record shows in bigger cities as being “more picked-through” and offering fewer rarities and a less diverse selection, thereby making Port Townsend “a destination record show” in Malmgren’s eyes.
Malmgren and Schultz noted the Port Townsend Record Show’s popularity with Canadian collectors since vinyl is less expensive in America, but Schultz said that, contrary to the predictions of its obsolescence just a couple of decades ago, sales of new vinyl have been steadily increasing every year for the past decade.
“It’s eclipsing all other physical forms of music media,” Schultz said. “It’s not slowing down, in spite of the music industry doing everything in its power to sabotage itself. Vinyl is booming with all ages.”
“I recently had a 16-year-old buy an AC/DC album from me, with her mom standing over her shoulder,” Moses said. “It’s become a multigenerational thing.”
Schultz has observed that younger collectors have become just as avid completists about album artwork and liner notes as their elders were.
“It gives them a tangible connection to that media, even if they never grew up with it,” Schultz said. “They know this is the artwork that’s meant to go with this music.”
“If it’s Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ that means everything including the stickers,” Moses laughed.
At the same time, Malmgren emphasized that those who simply love the music itself are every bit as active in the scene as “the old-timers who read the dead wax of a copy of the Clash’s ‘London Calling’ to see which pressing it is. What’s nice is that you draw from both worlds.”
Schultz even credited a number of those “old-timers” with helping sow the fields of new and emerging fans, since the number of retirement-age residents who move to Port Townsend and the surrounding area almost inevitably wind up “downsizing” a certain amount of their property, which leads to a relatively steady supply of offloaded antique albums.
“We have a lot of treasure hunters who come to this area searching for the mother lode,” Schultz said.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people who inherited their grandparents’ record collections after they passed away,” Moses said. “Those albums are precious to them. I’ve watched music fans touch an old record, and in that instant, they’re right back at a concert that meant so much to them. Even when we lose our memories, music is the last thing we lose.”
“I can own a record,” Schultz said. “I can only borrow the digital information that’s on my phone.”
In line with the diversity of record enthusiasts they’ve seen and spoken with over the years, all three of the folks behind the Port Townsend Record Show emphasized that everyone should feel welcome to attend, regardless of how much they might know about music or how big or small their current collections might be.
“Please don’t feel intimidated,” Schultz said. “No one is going to be excluded due to a lack of knowledge.”
After all, whatever you might not know, attendees will have at least three aficionados who are eager to share their knowledge.
And fittingly for an event celebrating music, KPTZ 91.9 FM will provide background music, with DJs to include Buzzy Donahue and Ruby Fitch.
Barbarian Fine Cuisine will serve as the event’s caterer.
“Quimper Sound is the oldest record store in Washington state that’s been selling records the whole time,” Schultz said. “Records are not a trend. They’re a lifestyle.”
“It’s up to us to keep the culture revolving,” Malmgren said.