It's strange to think that many people will never know the pleasure of flip, flip, flipping through a stack of LPs at a record store, but almost any music collector of age remembers the act — just as they remember going through a card catalogue (a what?). Back in the day, record shopping carried an element of surprise you could touch: You might've been searching for something specific, then were caught off-guard by something unexpected, too, or by something that had rattled loose from the part of your brain where you filed things away and then often forgot them. Whatever you found, the surprise would begin with a poster on a package that just kept on opening itself up: warm music, with that old analog snap, crackle and pop, and literature to give the music body...something worth collecting.
When CDs took over, the shopping experience was still okay, if experientially diminished; it still required a mutated flipping action, but your expectations were more concise, like the hard edges of those jewel boxes. But now, we just plug a wire into the computer and siphon music into a tiny box of technology that takes all the thinking out of choosing what you'll listen to. Oh, sure, you can download single songs and screw with your playlists and carry the library in your pocket wherever you go. But gone, gone is the thrill of the hunt, the musty cardboard smell of hundreds of album covers squeezed together in a rack. Flip, flip, flip. Unless you go to the Denver Record Collectors Expo, that is.
Thoughtfully staged twice a year by Kurt and Karen Ohlen of Big K Productions -- a pair of Wax Trax dropouts who, when they're not twanging away with the Orangu-Tones or selling houses, dutifully bring the goods down off the eBay screens and back into the racks where they belong — the expo is more than just a sale. You can physically search through vinyl records all day here, as dealers from around the region roll in their boxes of rarities for the masses. For some, it'll be a brand-new experience when the doors open for business, but for others, it'll be like riding a bicycle. Ah. We're home.
Discover the fall expo on Sunday, October 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Denver Southeast, 3200 South Parker Road, Aurora; admission is $2 at the door. Call 303-455-8408 or visit www.bigk.com. -- Susan Froyd