Where the Buffalo Roam: My Day at Dr. Oldie’s Southern New England Rock ‘N’ Roll Collectors Convention
I woke up early yesterday morning to attend Dr. Oldie’s Original Southern New England Rock ‘N’ Roll Collectors Convention in Seekonk, MA. I heard about the event via In Your Ear Records Facebook page, and was excited for the opportunity to meet 30 different vendors and fellow vinyl enthusiasts alike. It took me a little over an hour to drive south from Cambridge in a hairy rainstorm, but the trip was well worth it.
I’d been emailing with the organizer of the event, Jeff, earlier in the week, and was greeted by him upon entering the Convention. He was as friendly in person as he was online and was a gracious host for this fabulous event. The room at the Clarion Inn was loaded with different dealers and there were already plenty of patrons digging in crates by the time I entered the Convention at 10am. I have to admit, it was a bit overwhelming for me seeing all this, and had no clue where or how to start getting my own hands dirty.
I decided to go to an open spot in a corner because there were about six crates of LP’s marked all at $1.00 each. I picked up Miles & Monk at Newport, not believing the price, and then shifted my attention towards the bins of 7″ to my left. I stared thumbing through classic 45’s including Bowie, Prince, Talking Heads, James Brown, Joe Tex, and more. That’s when the Dealer turned to me and said that despite the prices on them, all were two for a dollar. Needless to say, my jaw’s still pretty bruised from slamming so hard on the ground upon hearing this, and I had to confirm with him like three times to make sure I was hearing correctly. Good God, these sure weren’t Boston prices being thrown at me, and my head swirled like Dorthy’s upon learning about no longer being in Kansas.
Thus was the beginning of my journey at the convention. Everyone there was as friendly as Jeff and willing to chat about every type of music you could imagine. I felt like Kevin Costner’s Dad in Field of Dreams, and was just soaking it all in while getting my fingers dirty thumbing through the vinyl. Most in attendance were my senior, and having the opportunity to talk with gray beards with this depth of knowledge was invaluable. This is why Record Stores are essential to the further advancement of music. There’s tribal knowledge and stories you get from being face-to-face with someone whose passion equals or surpasses yours. I love Record Store Day and it’s mission to raise the profile of independent Record Stores, but there’s something very cold about it all. The records are overpriced, the releases can be forced, and the interaction is minimal. It has a very “Black Friday” feel and is consumerism at it’s worst, a lot there are are throwing things on eBay as soon as they get home, and there’s just no community. In short, it’s a cash and grab event.
Still, I love Record Store Day for a lot of reasons, but warmth is the essence of what vinyl is all about, and it just isn’t there in a store you’re waiting inline to get into, moving en mass like a bunch of cattle about to be slaughtered. The Record Convention is the polar opposite. I got 26 seven inches and 25 LP’s for under $60, which realistically would be about five LP’s on Record Store Day, and that’s not even counting the amount of talks I had with Dealers and Collectors, the flyers I was handed, the shows I was told about, and back stories I learned when looking at certain LP’s. That interaction can’t happen with the glow of vinyl on the internet, and that’s why I was so in awe of it all – it felt like I was gazing at a Mid-West scene just before the railroad tracks were laid down, and I sure as hell hope this breed of Music Freak doesn’t become extinct, they’re invaluable.