New England's vinyl revival is in full flower by now. And What Cheer Antiques, on South Angell Street in Providence, is no small contributor.
Its occasional Rock and Roll Yard Sales — pop-up bazaars of vintage records, music memorabilia, and other hipster artifacts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts — have become a fixture over the last seven years.
But Chris Daltry, co-owner of the store and front man for roots rockers the 'Mericans (see "The 'Mericans keep their heads up on So Late It Hurts"), was a little stunned when the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston called and asked What Cheer to stage a series of Friday night events this month in conjunction with the museum's new exhibit, The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl.
"It was totally surprising," Daltry says. "It's a great feeling."
The most recent event took place in the Water Café, a glassy space on the bottom floor of the ICA's hulking, waterfront building. And DJs, spinning some of their favorite — and most obscure — vinyl, were at the center.
DJ "Handsome" Pete Lima, drummer for the 'Mericans, offered up Brazilian psychedelia from Os Mutantes and some choice cuts from a compilation album, Hustle! Reggae Disco.
DJ Angela Sawyer played Beware of Dog — essentially an album of dogs barking. An ICA staffer called the record "the most unlistenable thing imaginable," but the eclectic crowd of 30-something hipster types didn't seem to mind.
As a child, Daltry says, his father took him to record conventions. But they were "a nostalgia thing" and never had the music he liked. And it didn't help that they always took place in badly-lit, shabby hotels.
"It wasn't until we opened our store [in 1999]," he says, that "we found out about the WFMU Record Fair," a college-radio-hosted gathering that was a lot more fun — DJs "spun cool music," and the merchandise appealed to a more diverse crowd.
Daltry eventually decided to organize his own fair in Providence, starting out at AS220. When the Yard Sale outgrew the venue, it moved to the Met in Pawtucket. As attendance continues to grow, Daltry is looking for even bigger options. "Right now we have room for 50 vendors," he says. "We're trying to figure out if we can do something larger. So we're gearing for an outdoor festival type of thing."
But for now, the focus is on the ICA events. This Friday, June 17, DJs Studebaker Hawk and Dom Casual, the latter teaming with MC Disagree, will headline a disco-themed event from 6 to 9 pm.
The following Friday, June 24: a full-fledged Rock and Roll Yard Sale, from 6 to 9 pm, with DJs and several record sellers in attendance. No word, yet, on whether copies of Beware of Dog will be available.