My First Record Show

I’ve taken some time the past couple of weekends following behind my wife and taking some chances at nearby estate sales.  I’ve gotten a lot of records-some good ones too-for cheap.  But I’ve really been gearing up for the Annual Northwest 45, 78 rpm and LP Show in Tacoma.

I’ve never been to a record show.  My brother-in-law has been and my son Patrick has been, but me, never.  It was a Tacoma show, so not the big Seattle display that occurs on the Center grounds, but I didn’t know what I was getting into, and am glad I went. I managed to persuade my friend Tim to go with me, so after a quick Americano at the excellent Valhalla Coffee on Sixth Ave, we drove off to the show.

It was a very warm day, 90 degrees which is very unusual for June in the Puget Sound region. The event was at the VFW Hall on Union St. near the freeway.  I was super impressed by the vast variety of sellers, and I am sure they were quite disappointed by the turnout. When it’s unseasonably toasty out, Puget Sound denizens tend to head for the out-of-doors

The show is in its 16th year and has changed a bit over time. It began as a 45’s only show, and there was definitely a lot of 45’s in evidence as well as quite a few collectors.  Not for me though.  They’re just too hard to keep track of and I have a hard enough time finding room for my LP’s

Thankfully there were lots of dealers selling albums too.  I walked in, took a look and immediately snagged a $3 copy of Hot Tuna’s Pull Up, Then Pull Down to replace my own unplayable copy. For a buck I grabbed a copy of Down on the Farm by Little Feat.  From there it was just a case of scoping out what was available versus how I was going to prioritize my spending. I don’t know about you, but I keep a list of albums I’d really like to find, but honestly I found the record show to be a giant impulse buy.  I hoped I might find a copy of Like Long Hair by Paul Revere and the Raiders, or the eponymous debut record by Little Feat.  Of course I could have spent all day looking, never found them and miss out on targets of opportunity, so I stopped hoping after a while.

I made one semi-big purchase, and it was a record  I really did want.  I laid out $25 for a copy of I’m a Man by the Spencer Davis Group. It’s in nice condition and the cover is great too.  Featuring a teenage Steve Winwood on organ and vocals, the band only released two American LP’s..  I’m hoping I might snag the other album, Gimme Some Loving, in the not too distant future.

With three records in my hand, I began making the rounds of the other dealers. I found a pretty banged up original mono copy of Surrealistic Pillow and I had it in my hand for ten bucks, but ultimately I passed. Lots of interesting titles, but nothing I had to have. Many dealers had large inventories of really interesting stuff, but a few had collections of stuff I’d find at an estate sale with lots of John Gary, Al Martino and Ray Coniff. Some were selling for cheap or at a discount, and others were more pricey.  Lots of good titles could be had for $5-10.

I finally made my way to a table of records for two bucks each and tried to find five good ones, and by god I did.  Number one on my list was Love Over Gold by Dire Straits. I love Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler’s solo work.  He’s a great guitar stylist and has always been a wonderful songwriter.  I also snagged Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s French Record.  I love this album and actually have it on cd, so I’m violating one of my rules here. But this wonderful French language folk album was too good to pass up and is kinda spendy on disc, so two bucks for this delightful record seemed like a steal.  I snagged a Turtles anthology, another broken rule, but I was okay with it. He also had a copy of Happy Together, but it was pretty beat. I picked up a copy of Together by Country Joe and the Fish. It was re-released on high grain vinyl for record store day, but $2 for an okay play copy or $20?  I opted for cheap. My last record was Year of the Cat by Al Stewart.  A product of my college years, Stewart has kind of fallen out of peoples’ consciousness.  I always thought he was a good and interesting songwriter and would really like to snag his live album, Indian Summer.

At that point I’d had enough. I’d seen tons of records calling my name: Outlandos D’Amour, Rock and Roll Over, Little Queen, Blind Faith, Gonna Take a Miracle all called my name.  I still had money to spend, but I had eight records in my hand and had picked up another 20 or so at estate sales the past couple of days.  i was overwhelmed by my good fortune and surprisingly sated. I walked out with eight records I was really happy with for about $40.00.

It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to the next one.


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