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People like me hate going to Tysons. Just how much people like me hate it—well, that’s what record dealer Brian McGuire is trying to find out.
McGuire thinks his new D.C. Vintage Vinyl Meet—the first record-collector showcase held in the District in recent memory—will provide a local alternative to the quarterly Tysons Corner CD/Record Mart, which has been the area’s only vinyl show for several years. And though he’s got silver hair and lives in Falls Church, McGuire’s banking on local pride and hipster cachet to prove him right.
“Downtown people want to stay downtown,” says McGuire. “It’s just a totally different vibe.”
Both vibe and elbow room are tentative when the first “meet” gets under way on March 28 at Millennium Decorative Arts on U Street NW. Six
dealers—including McGuire and painter/musician Robin Rose—have almost completely filled Millennium’s tiny second-floor boutique with bulging boxes of more than 1,000 LPs and 45s. Although McGuire dreams of a monthly event with live bands and a party atmosphere, there’s barely room today for one person to maneuver down the space’s center aisle. And as DJ Fatback lowers the needle on a sultry Blue Note single, I pray that he doesn’t put on anything danceable.
This meet’s fare extends from “pre-Beatles” and “pre-rock” (Jimmy Rhodes Plays Your Request!) to reggae, punk rarities, and just plain oddities (The Control of Congestive Heart Failure). From full-time dealer Tim Harris, I grab a $20 copy of Rockville High School Symphonic Band and Stage Band 1976–1977, featuring a rocking-out version of the theme from A Chorus Line. (Hey, that’s my brother’s alma mater and graduating class. I’ll get my money back.) Next, recording engineer Philip Stevenson, who’s brought two boxes from his 6,000-LP collection of New Wave, jazz, and classical, offers me Jerry Lewis Just Sings—a bargain at $5!
Rose, whose vinyl-era album with the Urban Verbs recently arrived on CD largely without his knowledge (see “Past Perfected,” Artifacts, 11/28/03), is here mostly to help the cause, assembling a meet mailing list and waxing philosophical about vinyl’s humanism. “It’s chest size,” says Rose, grabbing an LP out of a bin and holding it in front of him, grinning brightly as he explains how a record groove is really a finite spiral and how spirals are a universal cultural symbol. But he’s not selling anything, and I pivot from our conversation to buy Parakeet Training Record (put out by Hartz Mountain) for $2 from McGuire.
Attendance is slow for the first few hours, and the dealers seem unsure if McGuire has steered them wrong. “This is the guy right here we’re trying to get,” exclaims dealer Michael Francis, pointing at a thin young browser in black, with narrow-frame glasses and a shaved head. The browser, who identifies himself only as Mike, a D.C. DJ who works “internationally,” confirms the need for the meet.
“There’s no record stores in D.C. anymore,” Mike says sorrowfully, looking around. “This space is too small. But at the same time, it’s a great idea.” I didn’t notice if Mike has risen to any bait, but if he’s looking for a knockoff version of the theme to Valley of the Dolls for his next rave, he can now talk to me.
By 2 p.m., though, it seems Mike might be right: The meet’s crowded with black-clad scenesters. As I make my way to the ATM for the $100 I’m about to blow on rash purchases (Sounds of Sydney Lanier [Intermediate School] 1966–67?), I run into McGuire, who earlier said he was disappointed there weren’t a dozen people waiting to get in when the doors opened. Now, though, he’s ready to call the meet a success.
“You can’t really get any more people in here,” he says. —Dave Nuttycombe