Can you hear the engines revving? Can you hear the drool hitting floors all over the region? It is the anticipation building throughout the Maritimes as music fanatics get ready to take in the fall edition of Moncton Record Expo.
Hosted by Moncton independent music store Live Wire, the record expo is the perfect place for collectors and non-collectors alike to get their fix of digging for those elusive musical rarities and collector items while also picking up the odd new release.
Despite being known as a record expo, there is much more than just the vinyl format being offered for sale. CD’s, DVD’s and other collectible items will also fill vendor’s booths this coming Saturday October 17 at Moncton’s Crowne Plaza Hotel in the Fundy Meeting Room.
The expos have been largely successful to date, attracting vendors primarily from the Atlantic region, while buyers come from throughout the Maritimes and from as far away as Bangor, Maine and Montreal.
Live Wire owner Marty Leblanc has been organizing record expos since 2002, starting them off as an annual function before moving them to a twice a year occurrence in 2003.
“When I had started organizing the record expos, there was an expo being held in Halifax every year, so rather than try to compete with them, we relegated ours to being held annually,” Leblanc notes.
“But once we had got wind that the Halifax expo had been put on the backburner, we decided to move ours to twice a year to help support the demand. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe there are other record expos taking place anywhere else in the Maritimes on such a regular basis.”
Leblanc says that both the spring and fall each attract anywhere between 200 and 250 attendees. In his opinion, the spring session seems to attract a better mix of buyers and vendors when compared to the fall expo.
Record expos are nothing new to New Brunswick.
In the early 90s, Denis Marquette, former owner of legendary independent record store Room 201 Records in Moncton, got the ball rolling on regular expos being held in the Moncton area.
His decision to organize a Moncton event was spurred by a record fair he had attended in Halifax which, according to Marquette, left much to be desired.
Andre Therriault also tried his hand at organizing record fairs. The former owner of Boutique Nostalgia isn’t surprised that the events have maintained their popularity throughout the years.
“You can’t download absolutely everything you might be looking for,” Therriault laughs.
“There is a new wave of buyers attending the record fairs, seeking everything from new releases to classic rock to obscure music from Europe that many stores don’t have luck bringing in.”
The Death and Second Coming of Vinyl
Despite having supposedly died a slow death in the latter part of last century, the format of vinyl music has continued be a force to be reckoned with in music sales of today and at fairs such as this.
Remember how the compact disc was supposed to have been the death knell for vinyl in the early 90’s? Even though the production of vinyl has undoubtedly dwindled over the past two decades, the format never really died as it was supposed to have done.
While many new independent bands are releasing their product on vinyl, major labels are also releasing (and re-releasing) their fair share of product on the vinyl format.
EMI Music has been reissuing classic records from their catalogue including releases from groups such as The Beach Boys, The Band and Duran Duran, all pressed on 180 gram vinyl.
Unlike the 125 gram vinyl of yesteryear, 180 gram vinyl is considered audiophile grade. Most new releases and re-releases available today come out in this format. Some attribute benefits such as better stereo imaging and less noise to the 180 gram slab of vinyl. The record is thicker and heavier and as such, it may be less prone to warping over time.
“Outside of club DJs and hip hop artists the reemergence of vinyl in the music marketplace appears to be driven by a few factors,” starts John Poirier.
If anyone is well connected to the pulse of the music industry it is Poirier, who worked as a music retailer (including selling vinyl) before becoming the Atlantic Regional Manager for Warner Music Canada.
In Poirier’s opinion, vinyl still appeals to be popular for a number of reasons.
“Vinyl offers listeners the tactile and visual enjoyment of holding something substantial in your hands.
“The vinyl format also appeals to audiophiles and baby boomers, the latter of whom were never really convinced that the compact disc offered superior sound as compared to vinyl.
“The availability of vinyl is still minute compared to CD’s though. Nowadays, vinyl production seems to be geared to audiophiles, rock/pop/jazz classics, and critically acclaimed new releases,” Poirier says.
Warner Brothers offers an impressive array of new and old vinyl releases to consumers including bands as diverse as The Eagles, Green Day, Metallica, Wilco and Led Zeppelin.
Moncton musician and music aficionado Ray Auffrey is the perfect example of a fan that prefers the vinyl format over other technologies.
“I love looking at records; there’s so much to look at. Holding a newly acquired record in your hands is one of the coolest feelings that I can think of and is much more satisfying than having a diminutive compact disc in the palm of your hand.”
Record-fairs can be rather hit or miss affairs, depending on what you’re looking for. My best advice is to go in with specific titles you are seeking and then be prepared for the surprise finds that you will inevitably come across.
Auffrey has had pretty good luck with finding sought-after items at record fairs over the years.
“There’s been far too many great finds over the past 15 or so years, but in recent memory I’ve picked up an original Desmond Dekker album from the 1960s, a batch of Undertones singles with picture sleeves and four original Gram Parsons LP’s,” he says.
There’s bound to be a little something for everyone at the upcoming record expo. So if you haven’t had much luck finding your much sought after record online, your luck just might change for the better this Saturday!
The expo will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A Times & Transcript article had mistakenly reported the admission price. Admission is only $3 and free for those under 12.