A search for the obscure

  • Jesse Brekelbaum, left, of Northampton glances at the liner notes for "Health and Efficiency" by This Heat while record collectors Scott Seward, seated left, of John Doe, Jr. Records in Greenfield and Bryan Coley of Feeding Tube Records in Florence chat at the Northampton Record Fair held at the World War II Club on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Visitors to the Northampton Record Fair browse through collections from nearly 30 vendors during the all-day event held at the World War II Club on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Above, Jeff Moss, left, of Hadley looks over a collection of records of Shane Egan, right, of Boston, who was one of nearly 30 vendors at the Northampton Record Fair held at the World War II Club on Saturday. Below left, Jesse Brekelbaum, left, of Northampton glances at the liner notes for "Health and Efficiency" by This Heat while record collectors Scott Seward, seated left, of John Doe, Jr. Records in Greenfield and Bryan Coley of Feeding Tube Records in Florence chat. Below right, visitors to the Northampton Record Fair browse through collections. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Chris Gray, left, of Williamstown chats with record collectors Scott Seward, seated left, of John Doe, Jr. Records in Greenfield and Bryan Coley of Feeding Tube Records in Florence while browsing at the Northampton Record Fair held at the World War II Club on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 12/16/2018 9:15:45 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Dino Proserpio has always been an avid collector of vinyl records. The pursuit of the rare find and zeal for sharing his passion motivates his life and his record dealing business — and that’s what brought him to Northampton on Saturday.

Proserpio attended the fall 2018 Northampton Record Fair, which took place Saturday at the World War II Club on Conz Street.

“I think there’s a human element of a physical, tangible connection to the past,” Proserpio said. “I think it’s very easy to understand that human beings want a tangible connection to something.”

Proserpio’s business, which does not have a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront, exists almost entirely on the internet. Occasionally the Westchester, New York, resident travels to events where he can sell records and meet other sellers, including Saturday’s event in Northampton.

Standing over multiple tables filled with boxes of music ranging from unopened records from the ‘60s to ‘80s new wave and metal, Prosperio explained that he wasn’t surprised vinyl records were making a comeback.

“I’ve never stopped using records the same way I never stopped using video tapes. And as far as I’m concerned, real fans of any kind of music buy physical objects. They buy physically, whether it’s a CD or a record,” Proserpio said, noting this was his 52nd record fair of the year so far.

Proserpio was not alone. Justin Cohen, also known by his DJ name “Studebaker Hawk,” organized the record fair at the World War II Club. Northampton especially has a certain aura that Cohen believed would respond positively to the fair — and he was right.

Around 28 individual dealers and record stores came to participate in the fair, laying out thousands of records over 30 to 40 tables so visitors could rummage through a massive collection while DJ’s provided music for the event.

“I’m happy other people are as nerdy about this as me,” said Cohen, who both owns his own record label called “Peace and Rhythm” and was a vendor at the record fair. “This is my territory; I live in records.”

And even at his own event, Cohen still tries to carve out some time to look around at what other vendors have to offer; though he does admit there is a fair amount of trading between sellers before the event starts.

“There are record fairs all around the northeast, and so I sell at other ones and sometimes I just go and shop and I don’t sell,” Cohen said. “So when it’s slow, I’m excited because I can go around and shop, and if things are busy I am excited because I’m selling.”

Traditional local record stores also take advantage of the community the record fair brings together. Though it might be counterintuitive in the days of streaming services like Spotify, there is still a vibrant demand for mediums which would normally be considered relics of the analog age, said Giovanny Zuniga, owner of Spin That Records in Springfield.

“There have always been people collecting vinyl; there have always been core collectors out there,” Zuniga said. “But younger people are becoming aware of them and enjoying them, they are remembering it from when they were a kid... people are becoming more tactile with media.”

Ryan Fawcett, 25, from Williamsburg and Seamus Currie, 37, from Florence were just a sample of the many young faces fixated on searching for a good find at the fair.

“I heard about this from a friend, and I thought why not go,” Fawcett said. “I had bought a record before I even had a record player. I backed a band on kickstarter and got a record, but thought it was really cool so I’ve collected since then.”

Currie said it was his dad who initially introduced him to vinyl records in the first place; he was given a record player as a gift when he was 18 along with a collection of albums — and he hasn’t stopped since.

“At a young age, I started listening to records. I got the disease from him,” Currie said.

But whether attendees were hardcore record collectors, vendors or just causal browsers, a connection around a shared love for music creates a tight bond.

“I love records, and I’m happy that other people are loving records,” Cohen said.




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