Despite being written off as obsolete in the wake of the digital music revolution, the classic format of the long-playing record has not only avoided extinction, but has in fact come back stronger than ever in recent years. It is known as the Vinyl Revival, the dramatic resurgence of a fading technology that began to rise again back in 2007. Aided by the promotional push of the small-business championing Record Store Day, LP loyalists have grown from a cult of collectors to a full-blown renaissance that viably competes with the streaming and download dominated industry. As vintage and newly pressed discs have become coveted by a growing audience of consumers, merchants that cater to their needs have thrived and survived in the shadow of big box stores and online retailers, including Rochester’s very own Record Farm. Much like a crop that needs to be planted and maintained to yield success, here’s how the local vinyl revival has been cultivated by these ‘record farmers’ in their own words: MIKE BERRY | Store Scarecrow “I come from a musical family and remember listening to vinyl with my parents and grandparents. It led to my learning to play drums in third grade, and eventually going professional with it at age 20. At high school age, my buddies and I would do odd jobs in the neighborhood, and we’d spend our money on records. We had a rule that it had to be from a band we’d never heard of, so we would choose them based on cover art, or by band photo, or name, or even song titles. We would study everything about those albums- the liner notes, the lyrics, the music, and the musicianship, and those memories, especially the audible ones, are why I can pull any LP out of my collection and have a story behind it. That ability has been very useful when it comes to helping customers find exactly what they are looking for at the Record Farm.”
MATT REISH | Reliable Plow Horse “Working at The Record Farm has been a great experience not just because I am personal friends with the owners, but also because I get to work for, and with, people who care so much for their community. As someone who lives just an hour away, it means a lot to me to see the town support such a local store. A specific memory for me is of this 11-year-old dude who used to come in with his family and grab up all of our metal records! It was cool to see how much joy it brought him, and it reminded me of how much positivity our little local store could bring to others like him on a weekly basis.” JESSICA SHAFER | Crop Cultivator “Music has always been a love of mine, and I enjoy being able to share the experience with others. Newer generations may be learning the thrill of owning and collecting vinyl, and appreciating a medium that was from before their time, but the generation who grew up listening to it are not merely picking up an LP- they are also usually picking up a memory. These customers love to share stories that the albums inspire, from recalling concerts they might have attended, or, how the music was an important part of the soundtrack to different life events. It’s great to hear those stories, and by working at The Record Farm, even be a small part of them.”
MATT SWISHER | Fertilizer “The origin of The Record Farm owes a degree of its success to the State Theatre in Logansport. The building had a vacant retail space that was not openly on the market when we reached out to the theater’s nonprofit CEO Kevin Burkett to see if we could rehab the space to use it for a record store. He agreed, and after a six-month renovation, we opened our doors. The business serves as the box office for The State Theatre, and they graciously let us host our anniversary show there every year. There is not a better group of people that we could work with, and we appreciate that they are completely open minded to whatever wacky stuff we come up with.” ADAM WILSON | Industrial Strength Weed Killer “The plan was for the Rochester location to mirror Logansport's relationship with the State Theatre. Collaborating with The Times Theatre would be great for everyone, and the support and enthusiasm of local musicians and the community in general has proven that there is an interest and a need. The idea of bringing live music to audiences of all ages is very exciting , and hopefully, once the theater is operational, events will happen.” "Don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart." - Grateful Dead
Between the two physical locations and connections to entities like Failure Records, Rad Entertainment, and other organizations that allow them to be advocates for, and participants in their community, The Record Farm team is part of a network committed to encouraging others to follow suit. “Long live the network!” is a combination slogan/battle cry that these practicing artists and musicians use to rally both youth and adults alike over shared interests, and in contributing to making their communities a better place. And like vinyl, which needed the right moment and motivated people to bring it back, the flame is being kept lit and ready to be passed on for the next generation to carry their hometowns into the future. Vinyl is making a comeback and so is Rochester.