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Tag: Music

Thrift store finds

Some solid thrift store finds tonight! The cassette selection was a little light, but the CD selection was on point!

I probably already own a few of these in other formats. Heck, I probably already own a couple of these on CD. But hey, for $2 I’m not gonna worry too much about it.

I haven’t bought this much music in such a short period in years (or maybe ever). I’m hauling armloads home every week!

It’s just good to be back to buying music on the regular. Vinyl prices have really put a damper on that recently. I still love vinyl of course, but bang for buck, CDs are where it’s at.

Are CD’s the new vinyl?

I’ve been collecting music my entire life.

I’ve collected all the formats – starting in my tweens in the 80’s with cassettes and vinyl (mostly 45s), CD’s in the 90’s for the bulk of my late-teens and twenties, and I caught the early wave of the vinyl resurgence in my thirties at the top of the aughts.

I have vivid memories of buying music throughout my life.

I remember buying my first cassette, oddly a Kenny Rogers compilation album, at Pascal’s a now-defunct everything-store on Merivale Rd.

I remember buying Paul’s Boutique on cassette at HMV in the Rideau Centre.

I remember flipping through cassette singles at that same location and buying Public Enemy’s 911 is a joke.

I remember buying Use Your Illusion I&II on cassette at Compact Music in Westgate Mall when I was on break from my grocery store job.

In the late 90’s and early 00’s a friend and I were buying so much electronic music, we knew when new music day was at HMV and would go religiously to find new CD imports.

And around 2003 I remember kickstarting my new vinyl collection by buying a few milk crates of records at an estate sale down the street from my childhood home.

When the digital music revolution began, I “collected” MP3s and used all the services starting with Napster and later iTunes and the rest.

When streaming came along, I was slow to adopt, but eventually signed up for Spotify.

(Then later quit Spotify when they threw $200 million at Joe Rogan and tried to create a walled-garden around podcasting, while paying musicians, arguably the backbone of their service, barely a pittance)

Tell me what I like

Streaming music is generally a passive act. For me at least, my typical experience is putting on an automatic playlist or “station” and letting the algorithm pick songs for me.

Sometimes I will search an artist and put on a specific album, but most streaming services are clearly not optimized for this way of listening.

And the algorithms are not tuned to help you discover new music or expand your horizons, they are tuned to keep you on the service, so they just feed you things they think you already like.

This is not the worst thing in the world, hey it’s all music I like! And of course some services do have “discovery” playlists for the adventurous. But new music discovery can still be challenging, even with the massive library of a streaming service.

The convenience of streaming goes a long way in its defence, of course. You can’t beat the availability and ubiquity of it.

That’s a good thing, and I don’t think I’ll ever not have some kind of streaming service on my phone.

A participatory act.

One of the reasons for the resurgence and continued popularity of vinyl is the physical act required to listen to it.

It’s a participatory and purposeful act. You must take a physical disc and place it on the turntable and place the needle. You need to get up halfway through and flip it.

It encourages listening to albums over tracks. You are enveloped by the artist’s full conception.

Sure there’s a nostalgia factor, there are endless debates about whether it actually “sounds better,” and there’s always the dust and scratches to worry about.

But there is something about the overall experience of it that brings people back, and part of that is the activity of it.

The vinyl resurgence.

When the vinyl resurgence began, it was such a fun time. After two decades of CD’s and a few years of digital downloads and MP3’s, people were yearning for the larger physical format and analog warmth and depth that comes with vinyl (and yes, nostalgia).

Many spent the 90’s dumping their old records for newer formats (now filled with regret), so there were boatloads of records in bins at whatever was left of indie record shops that you could flip through and purchase for a few dollars.

You could pick up an entire collection at a garage or estate sale like I did for next to nothing.

Eventually in-the-know artists started pressing on vinyl again, and picking up a record at a concert became a great way to support the artist, and have a physical memento that won’t be a painting shirt or a car wash rag in a few years.

Vinyl became an obsession for me, and I quickly built up a pretty solid collection.

I always felt conflicted about downloading and streaming. On the one hand loving the convenience, but on the other knowing artists have been royally shafted and not wanting to support the system that did it.

So I doubled down on my vinyl purchasing in the streaming years as a way to hopefully balance things out a bit.

Lately though, vinyl has gotten extremely expensive. A combination of factors including increasing popularity and a global vinyl shortage have contributed to skyrocketing prices and slow and low availability of new music.

As a result, my music buying over the last few years has slowed tremendously. I just have a hard time spending $40-$50 on a new record, or $20 for something out of the used bin.

Gone are the days of plentiful cheap music, at least if you want to own it.

Enter the humble thrift shop.

Not so fast. I recently started hitting up some local thrift stores looking for old speakers, amplifiers, tape decks and cd players to feed another hobby of mine, repairing and tinkering with old electronics.

Given the popularity of vinyl, thrift shops haven’t been a good place to find records for a while. It’s all been picked over before it even gets to the shelf, and all that’s left is Engelbert Humperdinck records. So I would just walk on by the vinyl rack on my way to pick out a $7 tape deck.

On one recent stop at Value Village, I strolled by the media section and found a handful of cassette tapes and a rush of nostalgia made me buy them. Hey, they’re only $2, I have a tape deck in my garage right now that I need to test, so why not.

On another visit, I started flipping through the CD’s, also reasonably priced at $2, and picked out a small handful.

And this is when something kind of clicked in my brain. Recently I thought I had been missing the act of buying vinyl. I was feeling wistful for those early days of collecting during the resurgence, and resentful of the current state of affairs.

What I realized in the parking lot of that thrift shop is that it wasn’t the act of buying vinyl that I missed, but the act of buying and listening to music.

I’ll literally buy anything for $2.

CD’s are currently at the same point vinyl was in the early days of its resurgence. People have been dumping their CD collections as they move to streaming, and you can buy them for dirt cheap.

Now, rather than reeling from sticker shock at the record store and walking out empty handed, I’m walking out of thrift shops with an armful of CDs or tapes, and loving it!

And if you’re looking to buy new music, CDs are generally half the price of vinyl or less. Heck, some artists are even starting to release music on cassette again because they’re just so cheap to produce and sell.

Record shops are starting to stock CDs again alongside vinyl, and with the stark price difference, people are shifting their buying again. In fact, shipments of CDs in the US popped by nearly 50% in 2021 over the previous year.

That dopamine hit

And this is what I have missed. The act of finding and buying music. The feel of the cassette case, the CD jewel box, or the vinyl record in my hand as I walk out the door of the shop.

It’s the little tickle in the brain. That dopamine hit I get when I buy an album and take it home and listen for the first time.

It’s not the format, but the ritual of buying and listening to music.

CD’s and tapes have that same participatory feel as records, and scratch that itch for me as well.

And because CDs and Tapes are so cheap, I’ll try all kinds of new (to me) stuff I wouldn’t buy otherwise. I’m discovering (and rediscovering) all kinds of music again.

So for me anyway, CD’s are the new vinyl, and I’ve got a new (old) obsession to feed.

Bluesfest – Days 5,6,7,8

Oh man, what a week… I’m so wrecked right now.  Been going out every night after Bluesfest and drinking until the wee hours, then getting up and dragging myself to work in the morning(ish).

So no time to write.  Or really do anything.  My poor dog is feeling neglected – we just celebrated an anniversary – I adopted her 11 years ago this week!  I’m gonna have to spend some serious time with her next week to make up…  My house is a mess – no time to clean – it’s getting pretty bad.  I’m sure my girlfriend is feeling a bit neglected too.  Or maybe she’s glad to have me out of the house and not bothering her.  Not sure – could go either way.

Anyway, been seeing lots of shows.  Here’s a quick rundown: on Monday I rushed down to catch The D’urbervilles at 6:00 – they were really great, but played a really short set – only 35 mins… so that was a bit disappointing.  Caught Matthew Good after – who was really great – I’ve never seen him live but been meaning to for a while.  The headliner for the night was James Taylor, who I wasn’t sure how much I was going to care about, and when he started out I was worried it was going to be a bit of a snorefest, but once the show got rolling I ended up really enjoying it.

Tuesday I caught The Most Serene Republic – who I’d never heard of before, but I bumped into some friends when I got there and one of them said they were good so we checked them out – and they didn’t disappoint.

The plan for the rest of the evening involved trying to catch three acts who were playing on three stages at the same time – Tokyo Police Club, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Stars.  We started at The Black Sheep Stage for Tokyo Police Club – who were great – and after a half hour we headed over to The Roots Stage for Michael Franti.

And holy cow – what an incredible show they put on – the crowd was so enthusiastic and Michael Franti had us all in the palm of his hand – everyone was jumping around and dancing and having a great time.  We quickly forgot about the rest of our plan and stayed at Roots for most of the performance.

We did eventually make it over to The River stage for the last two songs of Stars, who were great – but a much mellower performance and we kinda felt like we were missing out on the craziness back at Roots so as soon as Stars wrapped up we managed to rush back and catch another song of Franti who were going overtime.

Wednesday I arrived a little early and caught a bit of JW Jones Band while enjoying my dinner and a beverage and waiting for some of the gang to show up.  I met up with the gang over at The Black Sheep stage for Hayden who we enjoyed while sitting in the grass half-listening-half-chatting.

At 9:00 I really wanted to check out Kid Beyond inside the theatre in the war museum – but nobody else seemed all that interested so I went in by myself intending to just catch a half our or so and then head out for the 9:30 shows.  Kid B’s performance blew my mind – I ended up staying for the whole show – it was really an incredible experience and I was glad I made it out.

I caught up with everyone else over at The Roots stage for CALEXICO who were great – but the next highlight of the evening was a total surprise – one of our group had walked over to Black Sheep stage to use the bathrooms and texted the rest of us that the music was really good over there.  Sure enough, Grupo Fantasma were just about the most fun we’d had all week.  When they wrapped up at 11:00 the audience cheered and chanted their name for 10-15 minutes after.  You could tell they really regretted that they couldn’t do an encore – damn Ottawa City ByLaws!

Thursday night I found out that Kid Beyond was playing again at The River stage so I told everyone they should check him out.  Unfortunately his performance didn’t transfer well to the outdoor stage – it was a totally different feeling and kind of a bit disappointing.  Too bad – the indoor venue was just so much better for what he was doing.  The Black Crowes were the headliners and they just put on such an incredible show – only disappointment was that they didn’t play two of their biggest songs:  Hard To Handle and She Talks To Angels.  Thought they may have been saving them for an encore, but they played right till 11:00 and didn’t get to do one.  Oh well, the whole show rocked so the songs weren’t terribly missed – just noted.

Finally the weekend is here – no more having to get up for work the next day.  Tonight I’m really looking forward to Metric.  I can’t believe there’s only a few nights left – and I have to take Saturday off because of a stupid DJ gig… oh well – I’ll be out on Sunday for Disco night to send the week out with a bang.

Bluesfest – Days 2,3,4

Holy crap I’m tired.  and sore.  4 days of walking/standing/dancing is starting to take its toll.  Also the weather has been phenomenal, but the sun gets hard to take after a while.  Gotta remember to drink more water and less beer.  Less beer for sure – Bluesfest is not going to be good for my summer physique.

Highlights so far:  The Wailers last night were amazing.  Snoop Dogg was a blast.  Infected Mushroom definitely did not help with the noise complaint issues.  Ladytron was great (and loud) as well.  I wish I would have spent more time at Zappa, but they were on at the same time as Steely Dan and it was a tough decision so I just followed the crowd.

Spent most of Lucinda Williams’ set sitting near the merch tent and eating/drinking – but from what I caught, she seemed to put on a good show.

Caught a few songs towards the end of Les Breastfeeders set – great name – and they were definitely rocking.

Unfortunately Feist was kinda boring – I had heard good things about her live performances, but I suppose she’d do better in a more intimate environment.

Been trying to spend bits of time at the smaller stages watching bands I haven’t heard of just for the bluesville experience of it and have been having limited success – I keep getting caught up hanging out with friends and eating/drinking.  Gotta spend more time with the music!

Sadly missed:  I really wish I could have caught The Weakerthans who were on at the same time as The Wailers.  Also would have liked to see more of Widespread Panic – also on at the same time as The Wailers – though I did see their big finale which was impressive.

Lots of great stuff left to see – tonight I’m hoping to make it in time to catch The D’urbervilles, then the big acts are Matthew Good and James Taylor.

Will try to get pictures and vids up soon.

Bluesfest Day 4 – Schedule

Lots of stuff to see today:

5:00PM – Infected Mushroom – Rogers Stage
6:15PM – Snoop Dogg – Bank of America Stage
7:30PM – Primus – Rogers Stage
9:00PM – Widespread Panic – Bank of America Stage
9:00PM – The Wailers – Roots Stage
9:30PM – The Weakerthans – Black Sheep Stage

wow, busy day… too much overlap, and given my track record so far… not much hope of seeing all of this.  I’m really curious about The Wailers (think Bob Marley and…), but Widespread Panic is supposed to be amazing…  Snoop is going to be a madhouse for sure.

Bluesfest Day 3 – Schedule

Kind of a light schedule for me today considering this is the first Saturday – I’ll head down early though and do some exploring – of course the big act of the day is Steely Dan which I’m really looking forward to.  My schedule for now looks something like:

6:00PM – Ladytron – Rogers Stage
9:00PM – Zappa Plays Zappa – Roots Stage
9:30PM – Steely Dan – Bank of America Stage

I must admit I know nothing about the Six Shooters record label, but I’m intrigued by what’s happening at the Black Sheep Stage today so I’ll be heading over there to check things out for sure.

Bluesfest Day 2 – schedule

Day 2 should be a pretty light day – Danielle and I decided to treat ourselves and got Gold Circle passes for Feist.  We’ll be getting there early to do some exploring around the smaller stages.  The only other act I really want to catch today is Ottawa-based Evil Farm Children who I’ve heard many good things about.  So our taking-it-easy schedule should look something like this:

6:00PM – Evil Farm Children – Roots Stage
9:30PM – Feist – Bank of America Stage

Bluesfest Day 1 – anticipation

Here we go!  10 days of musical bliss!  Let’s see what we can do about my possibly impossible list of artists I want to see.  Tonights schedule:

7:00PM – Secret Machines – Bank of America Stage
7:30PM – Fiftymen – Roots Stage
8:15PM – TV on the Radio – Rogers Stage
9:00PM – The Blind Boys of Alabama – Roots Stage
9:30PM – The Tragically Hip – Bank of America Stage

Oh man… there’s some serious overlap and lots of running between stages there already.  I’ll report back later or maybe tomorrow.

My incomplete and possibly impossible list of acts I’d like to to see at BluesFest

Many of these have overlapping show times… what to do…

The Tragically Hip
TV on the Radio
The Blind Boys of Alabama
Evil Farm Children
Steely Dan
Zappa Plays Zappa
Snoop Dogg
Infected Mushroom
The Weakerthans
The D’urbervilles
Matthew Good
The Cooper Brothers
James Taylor
Tokyo Police Club
JW Jones Band
Brian Wilson
Eric Eggleston
Kathleen Edwards
Jakob Dylan
The Black Crowes
Great Big Sea
Ray Davies
Wyclef Jean
Sean Paul
Donna Summer
Sam Roberts Band
Don McLean