Published Nov. 24, 2019, in the South Bend Tribune.
Tribune Photo / ANDREW S. HUGHES
Ken Price, left, and former Tribune reporter Jeremy D. Bonfiglio talk at the October 2019 South Bend CD & Record Collector’s Show at Comfort Suites in South Bend. The Dec. 1, 2019, show will be Price’s last as the organizer. Bonfiglio will take over with the Feb. 9, 2020, event.
By Jack Walton
For music collectors, the record store has always been the fundamental point of access. Buyers can also pick up records and CDs at concerts and via mail order.
The ultimate oasis, however, continues to be the record convention. A conglomeration of dozens of vendors, each with unique special-ties, provides a dream scenario for crate-diggers.
Locally, there has been a long tradition of record shows at a series of Roseland hotels. The leadership of the South Bend Record & CD Collector’s Show is currently in transition, but the events should continue well into the foreseeable future at the pace of one convention every two months.
Ken Price took over the helm from predecessor Blain Klein in 2003.
“I had recently retired from my corporate job, and I’d been doing record shows since 1991 (as a dealer). Blain offered it to me, and I ended up doing four of the cities he’d been doing: Lansing, Kalamazoo, South Bend and Fort Wayne,” Price says. “Later, I added Ann Arbor.”
By 2013, he’d cut back to just South Bend and Fort Wayne. Price still feels the pull of the appeal and says he will continue to participate as a vendor with a booth.
Price’s own connections to the South Bend music world go back even farther. He attended the legendary Cream gig at the Morris Civic Auditorium on April 3, 1968, for instance.
“It was shortly after ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ had hit the charts,” he says.“It was a two-hour show, and they played a bunch of stuff but not ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ which was interesting.”
After a long career surrounded by music, Price finally has started slowing the pace. He pegged Jeremy Bonfiglio to take the helm of the convention. Bonfiglio, a former journalist who worked locally at The Tribune and The Herald-Palladium, now works at Lake Michigan College. He’s been a frequent dealer at the shows in his free time.
“A couple of years ago,” he says, “Ken asked me if I’d be interested in taking it over when he was ready to stop.”
The time has now come. Next Sunday’s show at Comfort Suites on Indiana 933 will be the last under the aegis of Price. Bonfiglio takes over as of the Feb. 9 event, which also marks the move to a new location, the Waterford Estates Lodge across the street from Comfort Suites.
Price and Bonfiglio have both experienced the remarkable resurgence of vinyl that has taken place in recent years.
“We get a lot of young people and college-aged kids who’ve never really experienced physical media formats,” Bonfiglio says. “It’s a new thing for them, and they’re getting excited about it.”
“We’ve seen such a revival of the common classic rock records that used to be in our dollar and two-dollar bins,” Price says. “Demand had started to fade on those.”
As with any collectible item, records have slowly gotten more scarce. With every house fire or basement flood, more of them get destroyed. Additionally, the new wave of boutique vinyl pressings—lavish reissues on180-gram vinyl—has actually made used records more appealing.
“One of the best things that’s happened for the used-record business is the ridiculous price of new vinyl. You can’t get most titles for anywhere under 22 to 35 bucks,” Price says. “Anice 7-to-10 dollar used copy starts to look pretty good.”
Other trends have come and gone. In the 1990s, dealers could charge $20-$25 for VHS tapes and CDRs of certain bootleg material. Now that anyone can copy and burn a CDR, that market has disappeared. Most all the footage on those flickery tapes has been uploaded in higher quality to YouTube. On the other hand, there has been an uptick of interest in formats including regular old cassette tapes. CDs are down a bit, but they may be the next revival.
“I’m putting a lot of my CDs in a closet, and I’ll pull them back out in a decade,” Bonfiglio says. “We’ll see what happens.”
It’s critical for suppliers to make an ever-ending series of such adjustments. Price good-naturedly confesses that he has had trouble embracing one trend, however: the tendency of millennials to refer to multiple records as “vinyls.”
“’Vinyls’ is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me,” he says. “I don’t know why, but a lot of people get irritated with it. ‘Vinyl’ is the plural already.”
South Bend Record & CD Collector’s Show
Where: Comfort Suites, 52939 Indiana 933, South Bend
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1
For more information: Call 574-329-1483 or visit facebook.com/southbendrecordshow