One of the best vinyl scores I’ve ever had occurred at the Calgary Music Collectors Show a few years back. It took an hour or two, but I found a seller with all sorts of out-of-print records from the likes of the Dead C, Harry Pussy, Gastr Del Sol and several others. I was astounded that I had stumbled upon these records at all (never mind in a south Calgary recreation centre), and further still when I bought them for a fraction of what I’ve seen them go for online. But that’s all just aftermath, only a part of the appeal.
That day at the Calgary Music Collectors Show was utterly buzzing: across a nigh-endless array of milk crate-laden tables, all sorts of music fans were trading not just records, but also stories about records, as well as secondhand accounts of finds from earlier in the day (e.g., “I heard somebody bought a bunch of Six Finger Satellite albums this morning!”). In short, it’s a unique sort of atmosphere — especially in Calgary, where used record turnover tends to otherwise be a bit slow and ’70s-addled — and it’s all happening again this year on Sunday, May 6 at the Acadia Recreation Complex.
Mark Corner has been organizing the Calgary Music Collectors Show for the past four years, and he says this year’s show is set to be one of the most diverse yet. In addition to a range of Calgarians, there will also be several collectors/sellers attending from between Vancouver and Winnipeg, ensuring a broad array of music to spend an afternoon searching through.
“I want everybody to have an opportunity to set up at this show, because that’s what it’s about — individuals who either want to sell off a bit of their collection or purge it,” Corner explains. “It’s open to everybody — it’s not just for record dealers or shops to set up. You don’t even have to be a record collector.”
As a buyer, record fairs are a unique experience in that, in most cases, you’ll be sorting through somebody’s collection. This is quite different from browsing through an alphabetized record store in that these records have been curated to an individual’s tastes. As such, themes can emerge: band discographies (“we’ve got two guys selling off their Beatles collections,” Corner notes), genre/label obscurities, out-of-print singles, imports and whatever else one might think of. So while I’m sure one could find enough copies of everything from Supertramp’s Breakfast in America to David Lee Roth’s Crazy From the Heat to fill even the most ardent ironist’s shelves, you might also stumble upon something interesting — an oddity, an out-of-print rarity, your favourite album or even just something new to your ears.
“There’s always that box of albums sitting somewhere that somebody might want.”