Over the past several decades, longtime Athenian Kurt Wood has attained a sort of celebrity status as an ambassador to vinyl record fanatics around town. Self-described as “your favorite drummer/DJ/taco vendor,” Wood has been known to hold epic record sales at his home on Oconee Street ever so often, opening up his garage and porch to anyone and everyone who's interested. His next sale happens during Easter weekend, with Wood displaying his stock from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 19 and from noon–6 p.m. on Easter Sunday, Apr. 20.
Wood says his record sales were a natural “outgrowth” of his collecting habits—the sheer number of records that he has accumulated over the years have necessitated that he rotate his inventory occasionally. The sales aren’t necessarily annual, though; the collector decides to host events whenever the inspiration strikes him—and when his stock grows too large.
In order to cater to both collectors and non-collectors alike, Wood says that there will be "tens of thousands" of records available at the event, all reasonably priced. Most LPs will run $2, while 45 singles will be priced one buck apiece. Wood says that rarer items will be slightly pricier—$5 and $10 for certain LPs and a few dollars for select 45s.
What Wood puts out for sale, though, is only a fraction of the vinyl that he keeps at his house. It might be impossible to get an exact count, but he estimates that he has “around 50,000 singles and about 5,000 albums” in his own personal collection.
Although Wood says he is always on the hunt for records, often spending his weekends at yard sales, thrift stores and other second-hand retailers, much of the stock he has acquired over the years has been given to him by people who simply have no more use for it.
“You become known for collecting something, so people start giving you things,” he says. Wood adds that when an estate is being liquidated, family members will often get in touch with him about donating their loved ones’ record collections. “It may not always be great stuff, but I’ll take it,” he says.
By some strange coincidence (we think), this month's sale happens to fall on Record Store Day, the annual event designed to promote independent record stores around the world. Having two notable record sale events in town on the same day would seem to be a promotional nightmare, but Wood promises there’s no competition. In fact, he claims, he didn’t even realize the significance of the date when he scheduled the event.
In the spirit of collaborating to spread the vinyl gospel, Mike Turner, the longtime Wuxtry Records employee who also happens to run the local indie label Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records, even invited Wood to drop off flyers to promote his own happening—hardly a move that would inspire a rivalry between Athens' major music retailers. (Low Yo Yo Stuff, downtown Athens' other remaining record store, doesn't officially participate in Record Store Day, though it remains a go-to spot for harder-to-find experimental albums.)
This mutual respect isn’t all that shocking, given the promising sales reports on wax in recent years. Mention of a recent Billboard report that vinyl sales in 2013 increased while digital music declined for the first time since the introduction of the MP3, doesn’t seem to faze Wood. "Yeah, records are a cool thing. They’re obviously something you can physically handle… To me, anyway, they’re aesthetically much cooler."
Still, he says that things have only recently picked up, adding that turnouts were pretty bleak not so long ago. “There was a time, about 10 years ago, where it seemed like hardly anyone was coming,” he says with a laugh.
But that's not the case anymore. “There [are] all sorts of people that come,” Wood says of his buying demographic. Some people even travel hundreds of miles to browse and buy at the front-porch event. “There are the hardcore record collectors who come and dig—and dig hard—who are really looking for something amazing," Wood says. "And maybe I have that, and maybe I don’t.”
WHO: Kurt Wood's Front Porch Record Sale
WHERE: 1080 Oconee St.
WHEN: Saturday, Apr. 19, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. & Sunday, Apr. 20, noon–6 p.m.
HOW MUCH: FREE!