Twelve months ago, brothers Travis and Chad Dryden sent out a note inviting people to join what could be considered a fetish group. They expected a small handful of middle-aged men to show up, which they did, but they also hoped to convince both men and women of all ages who shared their interest to take in at least one meeting. And they did as well. One year later, the Vinyl Preservation Society of Idaho is 120 registered members strong and gearing up for its inaugural Record Show and Swap on Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Linen Building.
The Dryden brothers take great pleasure in and appreciate not only the vinyl in their own collections, but the times sitting around each others' basements actually listening to them. And while hanging out spinning records is definitely a form of recreation for them, it's one they take seriously. They were confident they weren't alone in their passion and so, following guidelines set forth by other vinyl societies and creating a charter and mission statement, they were able to take VPS out of their homes and into the community with regular monthly meetings—30 to 50 members usually attend—held at the Modern Hotel. In the year they've been meeting, regular attendees include the hardcore collectors like they guy who still has the first record he ever bought (a 1957 release by Debbie Reynolds) and, possibly due in part to a recent resurgence in vinyl, young men and women with less than 10 records in their collection but a desire to learn—and collect—more.
VPS members are asked for nothing more than a shared love of this music medium and the willingness to share it. They don't fill out forms and they don't pay dues. In return for doing little more than hanging out for a few hours a month, each registered member receives a laminated card that gives the bearer 10 percent off used vinyl at The Record Exchange, the option to buy a VPS logo T-shirt and access not only to others like them, but to the wealth of knowledge and experience those people bring with them. Meetings run from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month and often include a guest speaker—such as Record Exchange owner Mike Bunnell. The meetings are often themed as well. One night might be psychedelia, another '80s, another Beatles' covers. Members are invited to bring albums that fit the theme, but that isn't set in stone. During free play, members are welcome to approach the turntable and play any song, regardless of the night's theme. They are encouraged by other members to tell the story behind the choice of album or song as well.
The success of VPS may be due in large part to this camaraderie—among both the avid collector and the vinyl initiate—something Travis Dryden hopes will extend beyond the meetings, starting with the upcoming show and swap.
Dryden explained that shows like these are regular occurrences in larger cities and collectors often make travel plans around shows (Goldmine magazine, the gold standard for collecting and grading vinyl, even has a travel-plan section on its Web site, goldminemag.com). "Record shows have been going on since there have been records, really, but they're very popular in places like Portland, Seattle, Venice Beach. It's a real natural fit for VPS because we're kind of a social experiment; we're a big interest group," Dryden said.
"The shows are a way for the interest group to come out not only for the purpose of commerce, but to fulfill our mission. Because the records are trading hands and people are upgrading, we're keeping the vinyl moving."
The show will be on a Sunday—again in keeping with a larger national model—and Dryden said they expect to have about 30 tables set up, which will include not only people selling and swapping vinyl but vintage electronics and even representatives from Think Boise First, a group that promotes the importance of buying local.
On Saturday night, the event kicks off at 8 p.m. with the VPS one-year anniversary party at the Linen Building. Award-winning DJ Art Hodge spins sounds for the night and it's only $1 to get in, but go early; admission is limited (due solely to building capacity). On Sunday, the show runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and admission is only $2, a tiny investment for access to thousands of records. (Early admission is at 9 a.m. for $10.) DJs will spin all day, and there will be hourly raffle prizes. And feel free to take in that Beatles' White album you've been holding onto. Someone can tell you if you should list it on eBay and retire off the proceeds or if you'll need to keep your day job.
For the guy who is a regular vinyl vendor at the quarterly flea market, this show is an opportunity not just to maybe make a little money, but to act as a guide for some young person just discovering vinyl. For the young 20-something who recently found out that Capitol Records reissued her favorite Radiohead albums on 180-gram vinyl, it's a great place for her to learn more about something that she may enjoy for years to come from people who have been collecting vinyl for decades themselves.
VPS anniversary party, Saturday, Nov. 1, 8 p.m., $1. Record Show and Swap, Sunday, Nov. 2, early admission 9 a.m., $10; regular admission 10 a.m., $2. Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St. For more information, visit vpsidaho.org.