CANANDAIGUA — The powerful, influential jazz of Miles and ‘Trane. The harmonies of the Fab Four. The English blues-rock roar of Zeppelin. That’s just a sampling of what visitors to the Ontario County Historical Society Museum may hear April 9 while they get a close-up look at some of the musical tech of yesteryear.
They’ll hear it on vinyl, of course. That’s the point, after all.
The Retro Vinyl Record Night, set for 5 to 8 p.m. is the first of four special public evenings planned at the Historical Society on Canandaigua’s North Main Street over the course of the year, with further evenings planned to focus on films, video games and board games. For the April 9 event, the society, for that night only, will bring out some of its musical artifacts to display, such as a circa-1903 Edison Home Phonograph, a Victrola, vintage radios and assorted musical instruments.
“The idea is just to get more people in here, to get people to see we are doing stuff, we are creating projects,” said Cody Grabhorn, historical society executive director. He said it’s also planned to attract a different, broader and perhaps younger audience than the museum normally sees — though, as he noted, vinyl records have appeal for everyone. (Vinyl collector Grabhorn’s own musical tastes are diverse, but if pressed for an absolute favorite, he’d pick “2112,” the landmark concept album by Canadian prog-rockers Rush.)
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A walk through the society’s packed upstairs archives shows the Edison machine and several Edison cylinders dating from 1905, a Thomas A. Edison invention considered the earliest commercial recording medium; radios dating from the 1940s, and a 1918 Victrola phonograph player. “I would imagine it’s in good enough shape that it would work if you cranked it up,” Graborn said of the Victrola. “It has me wanting to do that!”
For the event, the society partnered with Canandaigua Record Exchange, a vinyl-oriented record store at 170 Mill St. in Canandaigua. CRE owner Jon Cooley will be curating a vinyl playlist for the evening, spinning songs and sides on a turntable as a musical backdrop.
Cooley is planning to go chronological, hitting some of the highlights of recorded music — “I’ll do some jazz, get into rock through the ages, then probably get as close to modern as possible,” he said. He may do some full sides of albums — he’s only got the one turntable running, so he won’t be rapidly flipping wax like a DJ. (That’s why he’s going by “curator” for the evening.) “I definitely want to get in jazz — maybe Miles Davis and John Coltrane — then the Beatles, Led Zeppelin,” he said. Though vinyl was the primary format for recorded music for most of the 20th century — and has made a modern resurgence — Cooley says he’ll probably start in the ’50s — that era of seminal Blue Note jazz LPs and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Though, he said, he’s got a few novelty sides from earlier that he might tote along.
Tickets for Retro Vinyl Record Night are $20 each and available at OCHS.org/events/retro-vinyl-records-night. Included with the ticket purchase are a beer or soda token (the society is partnering with Frequentem Brewery), an event sticker, and a raffle ticket for a “goodie bag” assembled by Canandaigua Record Exchange.
According to Cooley, that prize features a limited edition vinyl box set of the Beatles’ “Let It Be” album, featuring four LPs — including the unreleased 1969 Glyn Johns-produced version (prior to Phil Spector’s involvement) and a version newly mixed by producer Giles Martin and engineer Sam Okell guided by Spector’s, plus some 27 unreleased studio recordings — and a 100-page hardback book with an intro by Paul McCartney. (Cooley said viewers of the recent “The Beatles: Get Back” documentary will recognize many of the unreleased tracks.)
‘A Pirate’s Guide to Homesteading’
The community is invited to “A Pirate’s Guide to Homesteading: Dara Engler,” an exhibit of the works of regional artist Dara Engler, April 2–29 at The Dove Block Project, 465 Exchange St., Geneva. An artist’s reception will be held Saturday, April 3, from 3 to 5 p.m. The exhibit is free and all are welcome to attend.
From an artist’s statement by Engler: “My work represents an alter ego … My pirate-y anti-hero is full of curiosity and combative reverence for her natural environment. She traps animals and builds shelters. Despite her adventurous nature, the pirate is subject to an awkward and fumbling learning curve. She approaches tasks in the least efficient way possible, in this case substituting knit blankets for sound structures. As with natural history museums, the artifacts further blur the line between fact and fiction.”
Engler is an associate professor and chairperson in the Department of Art at Ithaca College, where she teaches painting and drawing.
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FRONT-ROW SEAT is a column that showcases the area’s arts, literature, culture and entertainment. Please send information to be considered for future columns to L. David Wheeler at [email protected].