Vinyl sales are on the up. From a low base admittedly, but an awful lot of bands, particularly the more “niche” ones seem to be making their music available on (often pretty expensive) vinyl. And that’s before you get to the reissues. All on 180g, gold plated, handmade, re-this-ed and re-thatted. The suspicion is that a lot of it is being bought by men of a certain age with a certain amount of disposable income, to which the obvious question is WHY?????
Leave aside the sound quality and tone debate for the moment (though, for the record, I’m with Neil Young on this) and ask yourself, how do you listen to your music these days. On a phone? In a car? On PC speakers? While doing the ironing, hoovering or cooking? Or do you listen on high-end hi fi, in a room set-up for the purpose, with the sofa positioned in exactly the right place, in a state of hushed tranquility while doing absolutely nothing else? If you can’t answer “yes” to that last question why are you buying vinyl?
If it’s for the thrill of possession, because you collect vinyl or you’re a completist then fine, each to their own, but let’s have no more of the “it sounds better” and “I can tell the difference” nonsense.
I find myself going to fewer festivals these days. Fewer than I used to and fewer than I would like. This is because most festivals tend to fall into three categories. There’s the “folk circuit” ones, where the expected names appear at each, which means you only need to go to one. Then there’s the “something for everyone” ones, which means not enough for me. And then there’s the ones which are a mixture of the desperately hip and the completely unknown, and the former have no appeal and the latter are generally unknown for good reason. This is of course a vast generalisation but the principle is valid.
There are of course exceptions. Cambridge Folk Festival is reliably excellent and interesting. Others burn brightly but briefly before settling into predictability. But most provoke no more than a sigh of disinterest in me. I know that putting on a festival involves a huge amount of work and an even bigger amount of financial risk, so it’s not surprising that people play it safe and/or try to cover all bases. And of course that is exactly what a lot of people want, as witness the “sold out” announcements. But I can’t help feeling that there is a market out there for a festival that has that elusive blend of the safe and challenging, the new and the old, the predictable and the unexpected. Some people will say “but X is just like that” but for me, and i consider myself reasonably well-informed, it won’t be. Boo.