“I see quite a few people my age,” says one dealer, not even close to middle age. “And I saw a girl about five with, must have been her grandpa. He was passing her records and saying, ‘You want to see this?'”
You might think the Ann Arbor Monster Record and CD Show is the province of male boomers, and I did see a number from my cohort. But really all kinds of people turn out. The show has been around, with one hiatus and a few moves, since the early 1980s, and it’s hardly changed at all since I moved here with my record collection in 1988. It’s an institution, and the young people here are, if anything, even more fascinated by physical artifacts of music than we were when I was a teen.
The organizers claim it’s the largest record show in Michigan, and it fills one of the big conjoined basement meeting rooms at Weber’s Inn. There are about 60 eight-foot tables, with slightly fewer dealers because some rent multiple spaces. Prices run from pocket change to four figures, and everybody has a dollar box to attract those for whom there’s too much month at the end of the money. Bargains may be hard to find, though–the dealers are an elite group coming from multiple states, and they know their stuff.
Nearly every genre is available (though I haven’t seen much classical music), but the show is of this place: there’s lots of old Detroit R&B and soul and rock. I talked myself out of a high-dollar copy of John Lee Hooker’s 1966 LP It Serve You Right to Suffer in favor of a stack of country vinyl, none of it online anywhere. Many dealers have high-end material like special vinyl pressings, and if you’re concerned about the wholesale degradation of audio brought about by the infinite reproduction of music online, you’ll find a last redoubt of audiophile products here.
The Ann Arbor Monster Record and CD Show happens four times a year. Doors open at 10 and supposedly close at 4, but many dealers will pack up well before then. You can come as early as 8 and pay an early bird fee–recommended if you’re looking for rarities, for about a thousand people come through over the course of the day, and by the end things are pretty well picked over.
The next Monster Record and CD Show is July 12 at Weber’s Inn. The following one is on October 18, same location. To confirm that the show is on, contact organizer Rod Branham through RerunRecords.com or visit Facebook.com/AnnArborRecordShow.