High sprits and good times enjoyed by grown-ups are now relegated to Thursday nights.
A late-week event which led to that conclusion was “Our Vinyl Hours.” It started on a Thursday early this month and will continue at 5 p.m. each Thursday at Brassiere Louis on Market Street.
Entertainment was supplied by the playing of vinyl records. Disc spinning was done by DJ Andy Seal and Sydney Stieler. To date, people have responded by showing up at the tweedy cafe in good numbers.
If you’re under 40, you might not remember LPs, EPs and 45s. They were best enjoyed when played on high-fidelity sound equipment by what were called audiophiles.
Analog discs were considered obsolete after the arrival of CDs. But holdouts thought the sound was somehow “warmer,” and thus superior. Cover art was also said to be more satisfying.
Stieler, 27, and Brasserie’s bar manager, got the idea for “Our Vinyl Hours” about a year ago. She said she started collecting vinyl while still in high school, well before its recent revival.
But the return of vinyl as a medium for recorded music prompted the thought that there might be people out there who would be into listening.
Stieler said the first night was assembled by texting friends and bringing in discs to play on a borrowed sound system. Some of the music was from the 1950s, a little more retro than nights which have followed.
Stieler noted that artists today, especially those with a niche appeal as opposed to mass market, sometimes only release recordings via online download and vinyl LP. The familiar CD format, itself considered endangered, is bypassed. Anais Mitchell, an artist Stieler called a favorite, had an LP played at some point that might.
“Our Vinyl Hours” should not be confused with the sound associated with discotheques of the 1960s. Nor is it a disco, as dance places were called about 10 years later.
Not a danceable tune was heard the night I paid a visit, unless shaking it to “If Six was Nine” by Jimi Hendrix is your thing. Besides, there was no room for shaking anything unless the tables and chairs were moved out of the way.
Seal tries to keep a musical thread in place, something which links one selection to another. He said he challenges himself to connect recordings by disparate artists during the course of the night. Going from early-techno Kraftwerk to soulful Nina Simone was an example he wanted to try and pull off at some point.
“People don’t have to be conscious of (a thread) or don’t have to be...paying attention,” Seal said. “Just as long as in some way, shape or form you get from ‘A’ to ‘B” to ‘C’ to ‘D.’ Know what I mean?”
It made perfect sense to one who once aspired to do what Seal is currently doing. He also compared it do doing a mix tape on the spot.
A recording with light, airy accordions was on the system as we spoke. “Lounge” was how I described it, and it fit the moment.
“This was ‘lounge-y’ just because I also know that a person came in and...they respond well to this album. You’ve gotta keep that going,” Seal said. “I like ‘Lounge,’ don’t get me wrong...One of the ideas we want to do is that we want to have a big martini night. But...I don’t know if that would work every night.”
Seal, who designed posters seen around town for “Our Vinyl Hours,” noted that one compared listening to vinyl to an Asian tea ceremony. He attributed the quote to Michiko Ogawa, a musician and design director for Technics, a company which still produces top-quality turntables.
“The tea ceremony is about the ‘right’ teacup, the ‘right’ tea and the ‘right’ temperature of the water,” he said. “It can’t be sloppy...If you want your records to last and you want to continue to enjoy them, you can’t be distracted....Good tea never comes out of a...loud diner.”
Seal produced a tiny level which ensured the turntable was on a perfectly flat plane. He also used a preener, a British record cleaning plush, to remove dust from the next selection.
“You can’t be sloppy,” he reiterated. “You can’t have a sloppy tea ceremony and you can’t be sloppy with your vinyl.”
The second side of Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” was up next as we continued. Seal said it was rewarding to take care with selecting tracks to be heard and preparing them for play.
“Vinyl does give you something to listen to,” Seal said. “You don’t have to spend gobs and gobs of money on it. There is a lot of great stuff out there at a small price...used. You are rewarded with a good flavorful ‘tea,’ and be rewarded with a good musical experience.”
Back now, to that opening comment.
I’ve joked that Thursday is the new Friday. There’s no real reason for the conclusion other than increased foot traffic around Lewisburg eateries, or perhaps a more carefree mood among grown-ups I run into.
Maybe it’s simply because Thursday is before weekend obligations kick in such as chores, travel or attending youth sports. In any event, what better pastime could there be for such a day than listening to music on vinyl?
Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.