Vinyl Potluck: An interactive workshop

Vinyl records have recently become the subject of media attention as more and more enthusiast groups, like the Vinyl Preservation Society of Idaho, have cropped up. These groups seek to preserve and foster appreciation for the rich, strong sound which only vinyl records can properly produce.

The appeal of vinyl records in today’s market is due in large part to nostalgia. However, unlike other outdated sound storage media, vinyl records remained relevant for the majority of the twentieth century – replacing the phonograph cylinder as the most popular recording medium in the 1900s and staying prevalent into the late 1980s – something audio cassettes, eight tracks and reel to reels never quite accomplished. And although records have departed the main stream, they continue to be manufactured and sold. They are still used by DJs and audiophiles for recording and playing certain types of music, especially electronic dance music, hip hop, punk rock, and jazz.

Unlike ipods and the like, vinyl is a medium which requires greater temporal investment and sacrifice to appreciate. It is not convenient – a record player cannot be set to shuffle or fit into a pocket. To listen to a record, one must accommodate themselves to the device, not the other way around. Put simply, the vinyl record does not fit smoothly into the busy world of the twenty first century. But perhaps this is why it is so cherished today. Vinyl appreciation is one way in which people can sit back, relax and listen, just listen.

Vinyl Potluck proposes to gather a group of individuals willing to draw from their own record collections with a sense of nostalgia and playfulness. Each member of the group will play a track from the record of their choice and can comment on it if they wish. The selection could be musical, historical, art-centered, or otherwise personally meaningful. The organizers of the event will provide a crate of vinyl records from which participants without records may choose a selection. This record may then be kept by its selector, starting a new thread of nostalgia associated with both the vinyl object and the Vinyl Potluck event.

--Tom Norris