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Spin us ’round

New Oakland Museum exhibit celebrates vinyl.


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Before there were iPods and SoundCloud, there were records. And they were magnificent.

It wasn’t just that vinyl LPs had cool cover art, or that they sounded better than MP3s, but records also provided a richer experience for music lovers to share with one another.

“The digital age definitely has something missing,” says René de Guzman, Oakland Museum of California’s senior curator of art. “The physicality of records actually forces us to connect with people. You get up and turn the record over to hear side two, or you ask the person at the record store if this is a good one or not.”

For those who pine for the days of vinyl (and for digital natives who want to learn), de Guzman’s team invites you to yank out your earbuds, and check out the new exhibition, Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records. It features a series of guest curators, Bay Area music experts who will come in and spin their favorite records while visitors kick back on beanbaglike seating. There will also be a number of listening stations, photographs of the Bay Area’s most ambitious record collectors, and turntable-inspired sculptures by artist Walter Kitundu.

The enthusiasm he has seen from Bay Area record fans thrills de Guzman. It’s no wonder: While the music industry has largely abandoned vinyl, the East Bay remains an epicenter of analog shopping. Record store titans such as Amoeba and Rasputin, and boutiques Down Home, Mod Lang, Groove Yard, and 1-2-3-4 Go are still thriving.

April 19 (International Record Store Day) through July 27. For information, visit museumca.org.

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