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Carrboro show sells and celebrates CDs and records

Guests sort through vinyls at the Carrboro Record Show on Nov. 5, 2023.

Inside the Carrboro Century Center on Sunday, community members and music buffs alike browsed through containers spread across 42 display tables, featuring music ranging from 1950s R&B to Psychedelic Rock and New Wave music.

This was the Carrboro CD and Record Show’s 33rd sale — a way for attendees to browse through thousands of albums. 

Vinyls at the Carrboro Record Show on Nov. 5, 2023.

The show started in 2004 after founder and promoter Gerry Williams introduced the idea to the Town of Carrboro Department of Recreation, Parks, & Cultural Resources. For the first few years, the show was an annual event, but its popularity urged Williams to suggest the show happen twice a year.

The Parks and Recreation department agreed, and since then, Williams has piled his tables with vinyl records twice a year, in April and again in November.

Williams said the record show is a great source of records and CDs of wide-ranging music genres. 

“There’s everything, there’s every style of music you can think of,” he said. “There’s not a lot of classical, maybe, or operas, but in terms of popular music, it’s all over the floor. Punk music and New Wave stuff from the 90s, current records, 50s and 60s rock and roll and R&B. I mean, it’s all in one place, it’s a good source for finding a lot of different things.”

Williams purchased his first record in 1961 and started a record-selling business in 1977. He has since owned record stores in Washington, D.C., and Carrboro, and recently started selling records online through Discogs, an online music database. 

Greg Neal, founder of Greg Neal Shows and a seller at the event, said the show brings together the music-loving community in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

“It was originally a disparate group on the campus somewhere, in the streets — they come in here, and get together and talk about music and records, browsing together,” he said.

Forty years ago, Neal worked at the first independent CD store in Los Angeles. Since then, Neal has been working in the music business and currently hosts shows in the Southeast, with a show coming up in Raleigh on Dec. 10, he said.

While he makes it a point to put his CDs on display, he said people mostly come to the show looking for records. 

He said that music not only sounds better on records, but the crafted, artisan experience of records — including the lyrics and artwork printed on the cover — continues to be appealing for music lovers.

Julian French has been a vendor at the show for many years. For French, the music-listening experience of a vinyl record is irreplaceable.

CDs muffle a certain decibel, which prevents listeners from being able to hear a lot of the instrumentation in some songs, he said.

“The folks who wear things on their ears, they'll never know what real music sounds like unless they have a good system in their house, where they can hear the way the band played it,” he said. 

French said the Chapel Hill and Carrboro community is an eclectic market that understands music. Many people came to the show with a specific album in mind and were willing to pay anything for it. 

Others, Neal said, come to the show to catch-up with other music lovers, and enjoy being around the records. 

French said good vinyl is designed to allow the listener the most authentic experience of the music. 

“You hear it, and it’s just like, you just feel it, and it makes you tremble all over, because it's like the band came to your house and gave you a private concert,” he said.

Vinyls at the Carrboro Record Show on Nov. 5, 2023.

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