Cafes Built for Vinyl. Could It Work Here?
I collect vinyl. Well I don't know if you'd really say I collect vinyl. I wouldn't know a record that held significant value if it jumped out of the record bin at my favorite record store. I find the active experience of listening to vinyl to be the ideal way to experince an artists music. So when one of my record store's shared an article from the New York Times about vinyl cafes, where one goes for a good cup of coffee or liquor, and to listen to music curated by a DJ on really expensive audio equipment I was interested.
According to the Times article cafes where patrons listen to music currated by the bartender have been around in Japan since the 1950's. They've only recently emerged in New York City, Los Angeles and probably in a few other hipster neighheborhoods in America in the past five years. The author's goal was to try and grasp the purpose of such a place.
A listening bar or cafe is essentially a place where one goes to actively listen to music. The stereo equipment is definitely analog, very high end, the coffee, liquor or beer is just as good, and the music is currated by someone to takes great care in the music genres and directs the time of day when those genres and styles get played. Unlike a traditional club DJ, who has a reputation or name and may be known for the type of music he or she plays. The cafe DJ, who may be the bar tender or barista, is generally anonymous. All the better to keep the focus on the music being played.
Most of my vinyl listening is a solitary experience. My 1990's era turntable hooked up to a 21st Century shelf system that didn't cost much money. It's not a very expensive set up, but something like Gerry Rafferty's "City to City" or Styx's "Paradise Theater" just sounds great on it. But that's the thing, it's a solitary experience, me and a record late at night.
How would a similiar experience, but in a communal environment, play out? The author in the Times article found his favorite cafe and experienced it at different times. He found the best listening experiences occured during the day when less people where in the listening bar and it was quieter. At night, even though the expectation that conversations will be minimal and library like, people were just more focused on each other and the music seemed secondary.
I remember listening to some great jazz records with my friends in our first apartment. The jazz being a part of the conversation. The communal experience. I think it'd be very cool to be sitting in a comfortable room with a couple of friends experiencing an album we haven't heard for the first time. Or a classic record, like Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" or Steely Dan's "Aja" with a glass of good whisky.
At home, whether alone or with friends you're choosing what you hear. At a cafe, not so much. In some respects that excites me. Especially if someone is turning me on to something new. Of course, if that person's taste in music is significantly different than mine. It may not be so great.
So what do you think? Would it work in Sedalia? Or perhaps in a college town like Warrnesburg? Is it something you'd like to experience? Would it work with Country Music? Let me know by leaving a comment.