DC Record Fair: Thoughts & Reflections

This past Sunday I ventured out from My Own Personal Version of Hell (aka, the recent Snowpocalypse or Snowmageddon or as was more commonly known as four feet of snow in one month) and joined my dear friends Laura and Tom at the DC Record Fair, held at the fabulous Black Cat. As we all know, vinyl junkie that I am, not even copious amounts of snow and dubious parking conditions could keep me from perusing crate after crate of LP (and 7 inch and CD) goodness. What we expected and what we got were dramatically different, but fun was still had, and I had a few thoughts I wanted to put out there, just because.

For instance, as much as I love the Black Cat, and as much as I love having a cocktail or three while pawing through records, this partnership probably needs a little work. Mainly, this thought stems from how dark it was, even as the sunlight beamed outside. It felt no different inside than the lighting you'd get at the Cat during a show. Whether or not this is just a logistical issue, the lighting made it a wee bit of a challenge to see records. So too did the heaving crowds, meaning no matter the visibility factor, we had a hard time even getting to the crates. People took their sweet time going through the vinyl, and it got a little vexing at times. Ok, a lot vexing.

My suggestion to the organizers/the Cat would be to perhaps spread the fair over both floors of the bar, utilizing not only the upstairs space but the Red Room and Backstage spaces as well, to allow for more room to move and some much-needed crowd control. Also, laying out the vendors differently might also make browsing (and buying) easier. Something about the way the vendors were arranged seemed pretty haphazard and disjointed.

Still, whining aside, for the small $2 admission fee it was a great afternoon outing. Great drinks, great records, great people-watching, and great tunes spun by various and sundry local musicians (some rather famous, dontchaknow!). It was pretty great to be surrounded by so many vinyl enthusiasts, as well. Not to mention, it made quite a nice break from being stuck in the house for over a week and forgetting the last time you wore something other than pajamas. I used some restraint while at the Fair itself, and only left with one $1 record - "The Exciting Brooklyn Allstars". After a few hours at the Cat, our little trio strolled a few doors down (and downstairs) to Som Records, a goldmine of vinyl goodness. Much like my beloved Plan 9 in Richmond, Som had a good (though not as extensive) selection of new and used records, as well as a few crates of wallet-friendly $1 records. I left Som with three $1 LPs - Neil Young's "Harvest," David Bowie's "Let's Dance," and Rick Wakeman's "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" (I've been watching a whole lot of "The Tudors" lately, what can I say?). I also picked up The Flying Burrito Brothers' "Close Up The Honky-Tonks," which I pounced on because it's not often I come across a Burrito record these days.

And so, the three of us left 14th Street as the sun went down, happy and contended with our purchases. And I have to say, I'll probably be going to the next installment of the Record Fair, whenever it may be.


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