Remember compact discs? We don’t either. But vinyl record culture is alive and well and thanks to key players in our community like Robert Privett and Badbird Media there is a place to really get in the groove and celebrate all things polyethylene.
Now in its seventh incarnation, the Main Street Vinyl Fair is bringing together two days of excitement for everyone. Whether you’re an avid collector, casual crate digger or you just like the smell of old Jethro Tull jacket sleeves, this particular fair is a community event that everyone can get on board with. Running two days, May 18 and 19 at the Cambrian Hall (215 E 17th Ave.), each day is different with more than 50 vendors, reflecting diversity and that renewed interest by providing as many goodies to attendees as possible. Charging only two bucks at the door, Privett maintains that it’s all about value. We caught up with Privett to find out what makes this enthusiastic collaborator go round round baby.
BeatRoute: This isn’t your first rodeo. How did the Main Street Vinyl Fair start?
Robert Privett: I had access to a free venue at the local bingo hall. A friend and I had talked about how we could take advantage of the opportunity and provide something fun for the community. We bought 20 dollars worth of posters and hit the streets. We thought the price should reflect our investment so we charged a dollar to get in and 10 dollars for a table. The turnout was amazing so we kept it up. Building and collaborating until it is what it is today.
BR: What is it about record collector culture that fascinates you? How long have you been collecting vinyl?
RP: I grew up with cassettes, CDs and MP3s. At some point your ability to quickly access and listen to music becomes monotonous. The idea of an “album” fades away and you end up listening to low quality chunks of music on YouTube. Like how God must feel when he or she’s downloading music – bored mostly. Discovering vinyl records was a breath of fresh air. It’s materialism at it’s best. Contrary to popular belief, we could use some old fashion materialism. If there is going to be “stuff,” let’s appreciate it, take care of it and share it. Anything but throwing it all under our sub-divisions and/or into our oceans.
BR: What are some of your most prized vinyl possessions?
RP: On a practical level, I tend to like greatest hits records. Worthless to the serious vinyl collector, but if I can get 50 Motown hits on four records for three bucks – that works for me. It’s a good way to start a collection. As far as new albums go, I’ve been picking up newly released pressings from the Golden Age of CDs – a lot of punk rock and alternative. Last three albums I’ve purchased – Operation Ivy’s Energy, Johnny Cash’s I Walk the Line and the Best of Bill Withers.
BR: Do you still do some crate digging at these things or are you over it?
RP: I don’t usually dig at my own event. I’m usually too busy running around. But I run a vinyl donation program to raise money for CiTR, Girls Rock Camp and Safe Amp. At any one time, I have thousands of donated records in my basement to listen to and price before fair time. It’s like the crates come to me. But I have been known to slip.
BR: What is the hardest part about bringing this event together?
RP: Taking a new spin on an old idea is always tough at first. The hardest part of throwing this together was convincing the traditional-types that a record fair could and should be more than an old gym full of records. We always try to innovate and include over-looked branches of vinyl culture into the fair – such as vinyl-related smart phone apps, vinyl-spinning DJs etc. Our success over the last few years has made it a lot easier to promote these new ideas.
BR: What do you do the rest of the year when you’re not curating this two-day extravaganza? What is Badbird Media all about?
RP: BadBird Media is a social marketing/web company I founded a few years back. The vinyl fair is part that. Some businesses spend their money on bus stop ads that are here today-gone tomorrow. We don’t and we encourage our clients to do the same. Build something of value for the community. That’s the future. That’s sustainability.
The Main Street Vinyl Fair is on May 18 and 19 at the Cambrian Hall (215 E 17th Ave.). For more information visit www.vinylrecordfair.com
By Glenn Alderson