Edmonton Music Collectors Show – Sun. Oct. 02, 2016
They quietly flip through the boxes and bins with efficient focus. Even as the MC announces prize draws, the collectors of the Edmonton Music Collectors Show have their eyes on their own distinct prizes. That prize might not be there; they may not even know what exactly they’re looking for. But the hunt is on.
It’s rather nice out on this brisk, autumn Sunday. But several hundred music lovers are opting to spend an hour or five indoors at the Central Lions Recreation Centre in Edmonton. The lighting is generous, and the square footage is straightforward and spacious. The vendors’ tables line the walls; others form two long, framed columns. All in all there’s plenty of room for both buyers and sellers. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t standing elbow-to-elbow in search of shopping list favourites or curious new discoveries.
To be a member of the Edmonton vinyl record community is to recognize a lot of faces. Event co-creator George Gawlak is there and selling records as well. So too are representatives from local stores, such as Rich from Freecloud Records and Terry from EROC. There’s up-and-coming vendors like Benny of Benny’s Records, out-of-towners such as Mark from the Calgary Music Collector’s Show, and a variety of private sellers. Most of these cats know each other from events such as this, and have for years.
For Gawlak it’s been a positive and mutually beneficial network. “A lot of us are friends,” he says of his fellow vendors, most of whom are collectors first. “On my travels, if I come across something I know a fellow collector is looking for I’ll pick it up for them, and they do the same for me,” he says. “We always help each other out,” concurs Mark from Calgary. Event MC and sponsor Jac Zylstra of 3dB Sound views this group a bit more facetiously: “They’re all crazy as a loon, in a great way. And I’m one too.”
With this being the eleventh event for the Edmonton Collector’s Show, changes are inevitable, if gradual. A lot of the vendors view the biggest shift as a generational one. Zylstra, from a lofty stage position, has seen “a lot more younger crowd” pass through the Central Lions’ doors over the years. Local vendor Yuri has also witnessed this: “The generational rift that might have once existed is now being overcome,” often as a shared family experience. George Gawlak echoes this, noting, “It’s nice to see a dad and a daughter, a mother and a son” united by this unique music format.
And it’s a format that, despite a seeming disappearance during the 1990’s, has returned to prominence. “It’s always been around,” Jac Zylstra beams. The “vinylistas,” as he calls them, “have a passion, and it’s on a little piece of black licorice pizza.” That passion gives focus to the hunt for music of the past and present, the hunters now old and young. These diggers, according to Mark from Calgary, “seem to be getting more and more serious about” what they seek. Bruce, a visiting Saskatchewan collector, feels that today, “vinyl is for everybody. It’s not just for the hardcore collector.” Even in the digital age does vinyl remain a relevant gateway for discovery, enjoyment and connection. “By opening doors,” Bruce says, “it’s opening ears.”
© 2016 Andrew Hall Writes