by Tim McCoy
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.
Aside from meeting great folks, and sharing stories of album acquisitions and favorite concert experiences, the best part of the afternoon was the introduction to bands I’d never heard of: Brian Jonestown Massacre, Parquet Courts, Purson, and the Sadies. These were just a few of the many that I now get to check out. New friends sharing their love of music, and the discovery of bands that might become part of the soundscape of our lives, was part of the impetus to start this group. Chester has made a great beginning to what hopefully will become a staple of the Roanoke music scene.
That ethos of sharing music and making new friends will get a further assist next month (April 15th) when Blue Ridge Rocks presents a Record Store Day (RSD) celebration. The event, to be held at The Spot on Kirk will be a lead up to the actual RSD the following week, and will feature four bands and a jam session led by John McBroom. The Vintage Vault will have some vinyl and posters on hand to sell, and there will be several raffles of cool music-related items and concert tickets. All proceeds will go to benefit Roanoke’s Community High School of Arts & Academics.
Chester will be on hand to promote the next Vinyl On Tap meet-up, and keep this record spinning. We hope to see you there!