Anybody who thinks vinyl is dead should visit the community center adjacent to Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department on the third Sunday of the month.
There you'll find proof that old-fashioned analog music is alive and well – hundreds of thousands of LPs, 45s, and 78s, along with music CDs and movies, a few 8-track tapes, and a variety of music memorabilia.
The show -- which is free and open to the public -- has 59 dealers with 117 tables stacked with row upon row of disks; collectables, rare items, and imports. It's the sort of show that dealers and collectors drive hours to attend.
People come to the show from across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and throughout the region, according to Janet Ruehl of Catonville, who coordinates the event with her husband, Frank.
"Incredible records, lots of good stuff," says a man who identified himself as Joe Diddly, of Dallastown, PA.
Diddly and a woman calling herself Sweet Little 16 are DJs who work as The Thing With Two Heads. Along with their cohort Action Pat, the three were looking for unusual 45-RPM singles with a distinctive sound.
"Records for crazy people to dance to," says Diddly.
"Weird R&B, 50s and 60s garage rock and roll, weird instrumentals," explains Pat.
"You can find almost anything within reason here," says Dave Weber of Charlestown, WV, who has had a booth at the show for his collection of 15,000 records for more than a year.
Bill Cox, retired after 30 years in the Air Force, was bitten by the record-collecting bug about a decade ago. "I'm addicted to vinyl," he says, explaining why he drove four hours from his Hampton Roads, VA, home with hundreds of pounds of neatly organized plastic.
His first visit to a record show "was like being in a candy store – I want this, I want that," he says. "The more I collect the worse it gets. My music appetite is exploding."
Todd Sampson, of Frederick, MD, is a "chart collector," prowling the Arbutus show for 45s that made the Top 100, as well as Motown girl groups. "It's got a sound you don't hear today," he says.
Interest in vinyl remains keen despite the popularity of digitized, synthesized, multi-tracked, autotuned, homogenized musical pablum. Some enthusiasts contend that vinyl records have a richness and raw authenticity that is wrung out of the lifeless purity of digital music.
"I want to hear what it sounded like from the factory," says Cox. "The way music was supposed to sound."
Listening to music produced by a needle passing through a groove carved in plastic requires a state of calm and contemplation vastly different than listening to an iPod strapped to the arm while running on a treadmill.
"There's a real resurgence in vinyl," says Steve Yohe, of York, PA, co-founder of Keystone Record Collectors and supporter of the Arbutus show.
The once-monthly Arbutus Record and CD Show has been a tradition for 20 years or more. Most months, the show is on the third Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"What's wonderful is the young people who come in," says Ruehl. "We have young dealers and young collectors. We're keeping it alive for the young people."