A few years ago my wife and I started collecting records. Along the way, I met Mark Corner, founder of the Calgary Music Collectors Show. Mark has a long history of collecting and selling music, with connections all over the country. The show is held biannually — once in the fall and once in the spring. The next one is coming up on May 6th at the Acadia Recreation Centre and it will mark the event’s 10th year in the city.
Q: Why did you start the Calgary Music Collectors Show? What inspired you?
A: I started the Calgary Music Collectors Show in 2009 because I believed that Calgary deserved such an event. The city has many great record shops but without a consistent record show, there was something missing. I used to promote a similar event in Winnipeg in the ’80s and ’90s and I knew the music collectors of Calgary would embrace it.
Q: Can you tell me more about your event in Winnipeg? Is it still active?
A: I started that show in the Spring of ’88 as a biannual event with free admission. The Winnipeg Record Fair later became the Winnipeg Music Collectors Show. One of the first customers through the door was Chris Hannah, who went on to start the band Propagandhi. The show became so popular and demand so high that the event expanded to three events a year. It was an exciting time for collecting since all forms of media were in demand. The local radio stations were involved. The show was made up of almost all private collectors and a couple of local shops. Everyone would save up their best finds for the shows and it attracted all kinds of vendors, both locally and out of town. Local music concert promoters were there as well, and they’d bring promo records, shirts, posters and other goodies. The show had a great run until 1999 (when) I decided to stop doing the show because of the rise in internet sales and auction sites. It was started again under the name Rockin Richards.
Q: Tell me about the first Calgary show. Did you have a vision for the future?
A: The first show was held on May 24, 2009 at the ballroom of the Carriage House Inn. Even though it was only the first show we had several local and out of town vendors. I was very happy with not only the turnout of collectors but also the high number of quality vendors who set up with great music that was priced to sell. After doing the first show I knew I needed to add DJs to the show and Mark who is an avid record collector was happy to step up! Going forward I feel the show’s success is dependant on a consistent turnover of independent vendors, attracting new music collectors and fans.
Q: What compels you to keep it going?
A: All the positive words and feedback that I receive about the event. I will keep promoting it as long as it has something to offer. I want it to stay fresh and exciting for the music fans and collectors. I have been collecting music since the ’70s and the show is a great vehicle for me to keep my collection under control.
Q: Tell me about some of the connections that you’ve made with people through record collecting. Any specific people that stand out?
A: I have been lucky to meet some great people and make good friends with other record collectors. We share a fun hobby and when you meet other people who share that hobby it can also lead to trading music. I always enjoy when someone turns me onto a type of music or a record that I go onto enjoy and cherish. I have made several friends and acquaintances directly through music collecting.
Q: Is vinyl back for good? Did it ever leave? What’s next?
A: Vinyl never left us it was just the music industry made it more difficult to find and purchase. I was at a music warehouse in the early ’90s and a record shop manager told me that he was not longer going to bring records into his shop. I was in disbelief. I believe this resurgence of record collecting has a real chance because so many young people are involved. Not only are they supporting the record shops, but they are also interested in the equipment that it is played on. Growing up all my friends at school had record collections. It was part of life and an affordable fun hobby. We compared imports against domestic pressings of vinyl, our stereos and different tastes of all the exciting genres. Going forward it is difficult to predict. I not only enjoy all formats of music, but I also appreciate the groups and record companies that offer free downloads with a purchase of a new record LP. I think the buzz that social media and Record Store Day creates will keep the hobby of record collecting strong for the foreseeable future. After the hype the music industry needs to keep everything affordable and try to bring new exciting music (acts) to grow the industry.
The Calgary Music Collectors Show takes place Sunday, May 6 at the Acadia Recreation Complex (240 90 Ave S.E.) from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lonnie Taylor is a record collector and blogger with YYC Vinyl. He and his wife run the Killarney Record Fair. You can find them at twitter.com/YYCVinyl.