Vinyl aficionados and newcomers should head to the Missoula Senior Center on Sunday for the second annual Total Record Swap.
About 20 vendors will be selling from their collections, and the Roxy Theater will have tables upon tables' worth of donated records, CDs, DVDs and more. All the proceeds will benefit the Roxy, a nonprofit community cinema.
Organizer Josh Vanek of Wantage Records and the late Total Fest said the first swap last year surpassed their expectations, with a "healthy donation" for the Roxy and several hundred people through the door.
Music fans can expect vendors with a variety of specialties, ranging from rock, punk, hip-hop, soul, funk, world music, outsider music and more. Vanek said it's probably the largest of its kind between Spokane and North Dakota.
Lost Sounds Montana, an archival record label, will raffle off an original pressing of an album by the Frantics, a psychedelic rock group founded in Billings in the 1960s. Next month, Lost Sounds will put out "Birth," a full album the group recorded that was never given an LP release.
Since the resurgence of record collecting, the pastime has become more competitive, one selling point for the swap.
"People have an opportunity to pick up tunes that are now a little harder to find than they once were," Vanek said. The classic example he gave is Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours," once a staple of dollar bins in thrift stores that is now more difficult to track down.
The swap is a chance to buy staples that beginners are typically looking for. Pro-grade collector Collin Pruitt will be selling classics by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan, plus some "obscure psych records from the 1960s that I'm passing on to better homes," he said.
Pruitt recruited a collector from Butte who used to own a record shop to come fill several tables' worth. He said many of the bigger, more diverse collectors and sellers have been at it since the 1990s, before thrift stores had been cherry-picked.
Pruitt has been collecting for about 10 years now, drawn by the sound quality and the physical medium.
"If music means a lot to you, you feel the need to own it," he said.
Then there's the "archaeology" of finding the records, which adds its own layer of meaning. He compared Montana to the "final frontier" for vinyl, since it's a rural state far removed from serious collectors in major metropolitan areas.
"I've been all over the state, from Conrad to Billings to Tri-Cities, Washington, as well, just looking for people that have collections of interesting music that they're looking to sell," he said. Some resembled hoarder houses and he wondered whether he needed a Hazmat suit.
Even for those who aren't willing to go to such lengths, the competition is strong.
"It requires a lot more cunning to find good records in the wild," he said.