Vinyl Adventures in Denver

Wax Trax

Once a year I’m swept away to another locale.  It’s always in the spring and often in a more sunny, dry climate than beautiful Puyallup, WA.  The National Student Press Association/Journalism Education Association hosted its spring convention in chilly, wintry Denver last weekend.  Never spent a lot of time in Denver before.  Passed through once in 1971, and don’t remember a lot.  We stayed downtown in the Sheraton, where I chaperoned students, attended classes and had a little bit of time on my hands.

The JEA president reminded us that April 18th was Record Store Day in his leading up to the convention Facebook post, which got me thinking there might be a bunch of used record stores near the downtown area. With some further checking, I discovered Wax Trax records some mile and a half from my hotel.  No straight lines here, though, I’d have to circumnavigate the lovely Denver state capitol campus as I made my way into the Capitol Hill neighborhood. All my Thursday planning was complicated by the fact that we flew into a spring Colorado snowstorm.  Okay, not really a storm, but it was snowing, extremely wet, and I was on foot.

Nevertheless, the next morning I got my students off to class, and made my way out to Wax Trax in time for their 10 AM opening.  It snowed through the night, and many of the houses I passed had about an inch of wet snow in their yards.The rain dripped and it was chilly, so I stopped for breakfast at Panera Bread, before trudgin the remaining four blocks along 13th. I arrived just as the record store opened.

I really didn’t know what to expect.  When I made my way to the used rock section, and deciphered their unfamiliar filing system, I was somewhat disappointed.  No Jefferson Airplane.  But after a bit more searching I ran across  the two missing Jefferson Starship records I need for my collection, Modern Times and Winds of Change.  I also found a copy of Quah, a solo album by Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. All records were in nice condition with pretty decent covers.  I’m anxious to play them to see what I’ve got.  Most importantly, they were pretty inexpensive.  All three records came to only $10, My guess is I would have paid about three times that much in Tacoma or Seattle.

The hike back to the Sheraton was uneventful.  It was a very beautiful walk, as the rain diminished, through a very attractive Denver neighborhood.  I did manage to start off in the wrong direction, which made the hike a bit longer than it needed to be.  But I made it back for my 11:00 class on Pantone colors.  Trust me, the walk out and back was much more interesting, though subsequent classes were quite worthwhile.

I’d set aside a few bucks for this eventuality, and having spent less money on my purchases than I anticipated, I wandered over to Barnes and Noble a block from the hotel.  I was shocked to see an actual bookstore again, and explored the place Thursday night only to find they also sold new vinyl for a very reasonable price.  I passed on London Calling, Are You Experienced and Led Zeppelin III and instead snagged a very reasonably priced copy of the initial Ramones album, The Ramones.  It will keep Rocket to Russia company on my shelf.

The Ramones

I really enjoyed exploring a little bit of Denver and finding vinyl was an added bonus.  That my students also did well was the sweetener for weekend.  JagWire placed tenth for tabloid student newspapers, earning us national recognition for the first time since 2006.  A great trip all in all.


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