Collectors and dj’s say your grandfather’s records can do more than just gather dust

Due to the social world of vinyl, more and more young people are discovering new music, said Kelly Wicks, owner of Grounds for Thought.

Wicks, a collector himself, said he has a turntable in his office, at the roaster and in the guest and family rooms in his home.

Employees at Grounds sell between one and two dozen records a day at the coffee shop. They consistently offer about 3,000 records, he said.

“We sometimes buy entire collections, and then we inspect them, clean them and put new sleeves on them,” he said.

Wicks enjoys seeing others find a record they have been looking for and also watching people find new ways to listen to music.

He added that new technology for formatting music has increased the sales of turntables. Customers enjoy the packaging, art work, posters and liner notes that accompany vinyl. Listening to vinyl is an involved process, he said.

“People find this way of listening to music appealing, even though there are easier ways,” he said.

Vinyl is popular also because some music is not available in any other musical form. This is important for disc jockeys – who normally utilize underground music.

University student and disc jockey Brian Scavo, also known as “What the Bleep,” uses vinyl in his radio shows. Between mixing, beat matching and DJ-ing, Scavo promotes himself as a vinyl DJ opposed to a radio DJ, specializing in electronic dance music.

“Beat matching is all about rhythm and training your ears to match up the music through listening,” he said.

Scavo taught himself to use turntables in the summer of 2004, shortly after attending a rave and getting turned on to the culture. In rave culture, it is looked down upon to use CDs in shows, he said.

Because Scavo uses a very specific, underground genre known as raga jungle in his shows, he purchases almost all of his vinyl records on online shops. He said they range from $7 to $15, plus a heavy shipping fee because they have to be packaged very carefully.

Giving off an authentic sound, having more control and being able to manipulate the turntable are main reasons Scavo enjoys vinyl. Even though it is a dying technology, he said there will always be a small, isolated community that demands vinyl.

“There is no hope for vinyl being part of mainstream because of CDs, iPods and MP3 players,” Scavo said.

Although most people may not consider vinyl to be mainstream or practical, there are a few who still embrace this “outdated” technology.

The tradition of listening and collecting vinyl is a main component of its continued prevalence. The music library on the University’s campus still houses one of the largest vinyl collections in the world, with more than 700,000 popular recordings.

Bill Schurk, sound recordings archivist in the music library, is just one of many vinyl record collectors in the Bowling Green area. He has been collecting vinyl since the late 1940s. He now has approximately 30,000 in his collection at home.

“I treasure it [collecting vinyl] and have put love into it,” he said.

Schurk said people who grew up strictly listening to vinyl continue to collect because the songs they enjoy have only been released on vinyl. Another bonus of having records is the 12-by-12 image on the cover. The covers usually contain elaborate art that is nice to display, Schurk said.

He said listening to vinyl requires becoming accustomed to the pops and clicks of the record.

“A lot of people want the crisp sound and don’t like the surface noise,” Schurk said.

Some younger listeners may favor CDs for this reason. However, Schurk said there is a breed of curious young people who have a consciousness for their musical heritage.

“There is that connect with Mom and Dad to share an interest with the older format as a carrier for older music,” Schurk said.

He said he enjoys vinyl because it ties him to his childhood, and he enjoys moving the needle and dropping the records on the turntable.

The sound created by a turntable is also one of the main reasons for the popularity of vinyl. Collector and graduate student Megan O’Byrne enjoys the authenticity of the sound.

“I prefer the sound of vinyl to the mass produced sound of CDs,” she said. “I enjoy the ticks.”

However, some people living in our generation do not feel the need to hang on to the vinyl tradition, Scavo said. He said people now want cheap, expedient forms of music.

“The elitist rave culture screams ‘vinyl is the only way to go,’ while others scream ‘vinyl is dead, go buy a CD,’ Scavo said.