It all began a decade ago at Sun Studio. Memphis is a music mecca for many, and I made my pilgrimage in the summer of 2010. After spending a week visiting Graceland, Lorraine Motel, and the Stax Museum, I stopped by Sun Studio, the “birthplace of rock ’n’ roll” where the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King have recorded.
I found myself in the gift shop after a great tour, and saw a smattering of 45 rpm records for sale on the wall. I didn’t have a turntable yet, but I wanted a keepsake from the iconic studio and had a burgeoning interest in vinyl. That day I bought my first record — a 45 rpm single of Carl Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes.
To this day, it’s still one of my most cherished records as it signifies the beginning of what I know will be a lifelong journey collecting and listening to vinyl. I grew up in a musical family where I was constantly surrounded by people playing music around me. When I was younger, I used all my spending money on CDs. Every week I looked forward to my parents taking me to Best Buy, scowering the new release wall, and picking out the album I would take home with me. Next came the digital revolution. I still remember buying my first download on iTunes on the family computer – “Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas, as that was the song I was learning on guitar at the time. What followed was years of using all my spending money on digital downloads.
It was only natural that I would eventually find my way to another medium that would transform the way I listen to music – vinyl. My initial interest in vinyl was driven by a desire to again have a physical connection to the music I loved. So much of the music I listened to was originally released on vinyl; and I wanted to understand what it was like to hear that music the way its very first listeners did. My interest was also spurred on by a college course I had taken, which opened my eyes and ears to new genres I hadn’t listened to before; blues, R&B, and bluegrass. Learning about older artists, and listening to some of the earliest recordings of their music on vinyl only made me want to search for these records.
Soon after acquiring my first 45, I decided to ask my parents if they would let me borrow some of their records to help jumpstart a collection. I was in college, without a lot of discretionary income, and their records were in boxes in the closet. This felt like the path of least resistance to begin my journey.
They were happy to see their records played, and I was happy to give them a new home. So, I bought my first turntable – an inexpensive Sony. I started playing their mostly classic rock records and slowly began adding more and more of my own. My college town didn’t have a record store; the only place to buy vinyl was Hastings, the now-defunct entertainment chain.
The real tipping point for me would come about a year later on a trip to St. Louis, Missouri. I was walking down Delmar Boulevard. after checking out Blueberry Hill, and stumbled upon Vintage Vinyl. I spent what felt like ages there, browsing every row, every genre, so excited by all of the albums I was finding. It was the first time I experienced the thrill of shopping in a record store with all of the musical possibilities and surprises at my fingertips. I left with a stash of seven records – my very first vinyl haul. I can still think back and remember that day like it was yesterday. It awakened something inside of me. Not only did it open my mind to all of the music that I had been missing, but it also made me realise just how unique the vinyl community was.
I would soon be back in Houston where I started frequenting local record shops like Cactus Music and Vinal Edge. Over the next couple of years, I amassed a small but mighty collection, and by then knew that I was all-in on vinyl. I upgraded to my current setup in the summer of 2014, and never looked back. In fact, the vinyl obsession also fuelled a new interest in better sound quality.
I’ve always counted myself among the music obsessed, but vinyl has unlocked so much more in my love of music than I ever could have imagined. That initial interest in a physical connection to music was the first of what is now a long list of reasons I love vinyl.
Listening to vinyl is an active experience; something that is so often lost these days in a world where music exists only in the background of our daily lives. Selecting an album, dropping the needle, changing sides — vinyl creates an experience that is focused on the act of listening and enjoying a full album. In a digital world of playlists and singles, vinyl has firmly cemented my love of the album.
I have learned so much about music through collecting vinyl. There is a treasure trove of details found on most releases that I did not see or pay attention to before I got into vinyl; musicians, songwriters, engineers, and all of the studios that have been the home of so many recordings. After a while, you start to realise that a lot of the albums you love have a lot of the same talented people involved. Vinyl has motivated me to research different genres, recording techniques, and turn this into something much more than a hobby. Listening to records is a trip through history and opening up your mind to a much larger world.
I’ve come to view vinyl as one of the best ways to preserve music from the past and share it with others. Whether that’s through playing a record for friends and family, sharing it on Instagram, or eventually passing my collection down one day — the preservation aspect holds a lot of significance for me. Particularly when it comes to genres or artists that might not be as popular. Listening to vinyl makes me feel like I’m helping to keep the music alive; to preserve the memory of its creators.
In the digital age, putting your money towards vinyl over other formats goes a long way in supporting artists. Buying those albums at your local record stores also supports the wonderful community that these shops provide. A solid amount of my collection is comprised of records I bought after hearing them at a shop, upon recommendation from a friendly employee, or from a dig into unknown territory. It’s a great feeling to know that I am supporting the people and places I love when I buy vinyl.
Simply put, vinyl has increased my passion for and knowledge of music. I came to Instagram in search of others who share a love for records, and found a community that brings me constant inspiration.
I’m going to take you on a journey where I will be discussing music; both old and new that has profoundly more emotional and intellectual impact on vinyl. I’m also going to take you with me as we discover unique record stores and the people behind them.
This journey will also include an opportunity to enjoy my favorite music on a wide range of hi-fi equipment that will be a completely new experience for me. I’m thrilled to be a part of this great team and can’t wait to share some incredible music with you.