Vinyl Lovers Gather for Roanoke’s Newest Listening Club

Running my hands over the worn cardboard sleeve of the Led Zeppelin IV album was as effective at transporting me back in time 30 years, as any modified DeLorean could ever do. Memories unfolded when I opened the album jacket to reveal the iconic Hermit on the hill, sending me back to those high school days when my friends and I would spend long nights playing Zeppelin albums, wondering (and arguing) about the meaning of the images and the lyrics. The tactile texture of the album cover mixed with wisps of memory, all coalesced into a resonant joy as the opening strains of “Black Dog” came pouring from the speakers. Thus, the stage was set for an afternoon of album listening, and new friends sharing the bands we love, at Saturday’s kick-off event of Vinyl On Tap.

Throughout the afternoon, folks came and went from the side room at Barrel Chest, most bringing albums to share, some drawn in from the regular patrons curious to see what was going on. What was happening was the first of what promises to be a mobile monthly meet up at different watering holes where music fans can come together to listen to music on vinyl. The idea was the brainchild of Andrew Chester, Roanoke resident and serious music lover. He sets up the locations, lugs in his own player, and brings a small selection of his record collection to share. And then, the vinyl fans start appearing. Folks came in with one to ten (or more) records to share. Every album had a story about how it was acquired, or why it was important. I got to handle, then listen to a rare Neil Young live album (“Time Fades Away”), that the owner told me will likely never be rereleased because of Young’s personal pain surrounding the time period when it was originally recorded. I listened to rare King Crimson tracks, and the full 1980 Talking Heads album “Remain in Light”, all the while listening to fans share their passion for music, and the bands they are currently listening to.