Andrew Grant on the DC Record Fair returning to Eaton DC March 19.
Have you been searching for years for that 1983 U.K. pressing of your favorite new wave band? Are you just getting into the groove after receiving a turntable for the holidays? Do you quote every day from your favorite rom-com “High Fidelity”? Calling all vinyl lovers: The DC Record Fair returns to Eaton DC’s Beverly Snow Warehouse on March 19.
Could there be a more fitting place than Eaton to host the DC Record Fair for the fourth time? This is the hotel where Muzak has been sentenced to die, where carefully curated audio selections define every aspect of the space.
“When they make drinks [at Allegory], it’s a piece of art,” says Andrew Grant, Eaton DC’s director of music / radio. “So the idea is not having a DJ who’s playing off a computer or just general background music, but instead that these artists are playing there and curating the playlists for the night. It’s a very long and tedious slot, but if you’re a vinyl-head then you love a lengthy set to show your work, do your art and share your craft — much like the bartenders there.”
Walking by the hotel’s K Street entrance, you may see the window peering into Eaton Radio: the lit “On Air” sign and DJs selecting from a wall of vinyl, creating the ambience for all of the hotel’s public spaces through their sonic fancies and whims. Spend the night, and there are players and curated records ready to keep the party going, set the mood or lull guests to sleep.
Grant, who has had one of the coolest careers in D.C. hospitality, is the curator of all things vinyl at Eaton and an opportunity-maker for local artists. His impeccable audio taste — cultivated by more than 20 years in the music business as an internationally renowned DJ, festival producer, record store owner and more — permeates all corners of Eaton.
“I used to have a record store [Halcyon Records] in Brooklyn,” Grant shares. “And so I had a lot of record store contacts and I just drove up and down the East Coast to these really cool mom-and-pop stores when I first joined the team at Eaton, and I would buy some of their collections and bring it back to D.C. catalog it.”
It is its audiophiliac pedigree that makes Eaton the best locale for the DC Record Fair, with Grant’s extensive network of fellow music devotees on location for the event.
This year’s DC Record Fair will feature more than 50 vinyl vendors from the East Coast. There will also be three local DJs spinning, all regulars at Allegory and Eaton Radio: Les the DJ, RWEONTHEAIR?! and Valentina. Gary Gill, who runs Capital Audiofest, a trade show for music and sound equipment, is organizing audio vendors selling turntables, audio equipment and audio systems.
“They have various system options,” Grant says. “Not just super high-end systems, but also entry-level and mid-tier.”
In addition, the DC Record Fair — in association with the DowntownDC Business Improvement District — is inviting Turning the Page to host its used book pop-up fundraiser at the event to help fund educational resources and programming for D.C. parents.
It’s all part of the larger work Grant does to build and foster community: whether bringing people to the dance floor or connecting different local organizations. That work will continue throughout the spring and summer, from creating a reggae and dubstep showcase boasting Grand Ancestor Sound System, one of the largest monsters of sound on the East Coast (March 24) to a special showing of the 2019 documentary “Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement” (April 9) to hosting several events for the DC Jazz Festival (Labor Day weekend).
“Each year we’ve grown,” Grant says of the bi-annual record collectors’ event. “The event just keeps picking up steam.”