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Vinyl Collectors Flock to CHIRP Record Fair

Music and intense scuffling filled the Plumbers Hall at 1340 W. Washington Ave. in West Town on Saturday, April 11. The hall was taken over by vinyl music lovers of all ages for the 13th annual CHIRP Radio Record Fair, hosted by CHIRP radio, the local indie music station.

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Music on Vinyl! From Back in the Day … and NOW!

The fair offered more than just records. It had coffee from Dark Matter Coffee, lunch from Moxee American Kitchen, CHIRP music trivia and a Chic-A-Go-Go dance party.

Local DJs and artists also shared their music stories onstage while hundreds of people came to shop the packed rows of records.

“I love Record Fair because these are my people,” said Nicole Oppenheim, a CHIRP DJ who is on the air every Friday from nine in the morning until noon.

“I’ve loved music forever, since I can remember, and it’s nice to be with people who feel the same way.”

Oppenheim said she bought her first vinyl at the age of five – Michael Jackson’s Thriller and although she is not a record collector herself, she said there is a commonality in all the people who attend the fair.

[pullquote]“It’s kind of like a Trekkie convention,” Oppenheim said. “You get together and it’s comfortable, fun, and it’s a community thing.”[/pullquote]

Marc Bonadies, an avid record collector who works for Dark Matter Coffee, said this is the third year Dark Matter has partnered with CHIRP and hosted a complimentary CHIRP Radio Record Fair coffee roast.

“I am addicted to music and records. Music ruined my life,” he said, holding up his good finds from the fair: David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane and a vinyl by Darondo, a funk and soul singer from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dark Matter also caters other music events like Pitchfork and Riotfest, which he said has helped to expand Dark Matter’s business.

“[The fairs] get busier and busier every year,” Bonadies said. “People start to remember you and come back.”

Bonadies said vinyls bring awareness to how listening to music used to be, which is part of the fair’s goal.

Among the throng of records and music lovers, newcomer Molly Probst navigated the busy aisles. She grew up with records and heard about the fair through social media and decided to check it out.

“It’s bigger than I imagined,” Probst said. “It’s pretty overwhelming.”

Probst liked the combination of food, drinks and records but wished there was a wider variety of products. She said the fair advertised  posters and music memorabilia, but she didn’t see many of those items.

Probst made sure to donate some money and check out the stands of independent labels that are putting out their own vinyls, which she said was a good way to get their music out.

“I do believe in supporting the cause,” Probst said.

Another attendee, Michael Rotch, said the music content was OK but would have liked to see more Prince. He also thought the entry fee of $7 dollars was too expensive.

“If it’s not free next year I’m not coming back,” Rotch said.

He said he sometimes listens to records but he doesn’t own a record player and said he doesn’t think records are making a return.

“They’re never coming back,” Rotch said quickly with a slightly smile.

Oppenheim, however, sees a place for vinyl among the ever-expanding technologies for music digestion.

“There is something so nice about actually having [a record] in your hand,” Oppenheim said.

“You put it on a record player and there is that sense of magic. You can’t replicate that by pressing a button on Spotify.”

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