Unsolicited Endorsement: Record-listening parties

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by Jordan Green

It doesn’t have to be vinyl, I suppose, but there’s something about the warmth of the needle playing across the grooves, the physical act of handling the record, the durability of a medium that allows you to pull a deep cut from the early ’70s.

But I’m not here to rhapsodize about vinyl, per se. It’s more the idea of throwing a party at a bar, a gallery or college recreation room where everybody shows up with their favorite albums.

On Monday night, I was sorely tempted to break away from my reporting and writing marathon to drop in at my neighborhood bar, the Westerwood Tavern, for Gate City Get Down, a soul, funk, hip-hop and electronic extravaganza. I love the democratic spirit of the Facebook invitation that went up in advance of the event: “Bring some vinyl, talk about some vinyl, and if the mood hits you play some vinyl with us.”

It doesn’t necessarily have to be soul music. And it doesn’t have to be Dark Side of the Moon to appreciate the technical features of high-end stereo equipment. Like Gate City Get Down, the format could involve listening to individual cuts played by several people. Or it could be a weekly event with an arrangement in advance for one person to bring an album to share for a 45-minute listening session. In either case, it seems important that the person contributing the song or the album share some background information about the music and talk about why they love it. And, of course, there’s no harm in drinking some good craft beer while listening.