Friday, June 21, 2019

DWF ’19: The Great Record Hunt (Pilot)

LP collectors know way more about music than downloaders. That is because in most record stores, “new arrivals” is its own section, but it usually isn’t broken down by category. When you flip through, you inevitably pick up on things outside your original field of interest. Record stores are still around and many of them are busier than ever. Host and co-director Ethan H. Minsker takes viewers to many of them in his musical-collectible travel show, The Great Record Hunt, which screens as part of the pilot section during this year’s Dances With Films.

Rather conveniently, the pilot starts in New York City, where Minsker gives viewers the impression LP sales and merchandising is almost entirely about rock and its cousins. Granted, Footlights, the venerable sound track and cast album specialist, closed years ago, but New York is still blessed with many specialty records stores that would add very different flavors to the show’s mix.

Fred Cohen’s Jazz Record Center is a glaring omission, especially considering its idiosyncratic location in a Flower District office building that looks like it could also host Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe as tenants. For jazz collectors, the full-service Academy LPs is also a prime go-to, but they are only mentioned in passing by an indie label-owner, who used to work out of their basement.

Of course, nobody begrudges the time devoted to Generations and the Brooklyn Flea, but there is considerably more to New York record-collecting eco-system. As a host, Minsker is enthusiastic, but his fannishness starts to wear a little thin. The pilot also features a performance by Baby Shakes, who are telegenic, but it would be nice if artists from other genres get features spots in subsequent episodes.

To some extent, the pilot serves as a primer on record-collecting for the poor turntable-less out there. If you need to be convinced this is thing than you’re not as hip as you think. However, New Yorkers will get a much-needed lesson in supply-and-demand that could help their economic literacy. When supply is high, it drives down the price. That is why you won’t get much trade-in for your grandparents’ Sinatra records, which still have tons of copies floating around out there. The concept for Great Record Hunt is terrific, but it needs more character and rootsier, bluesier seasoning. Maybe they should have started in New Orleans instead. There is still potential, but real record collectors will be a little bored by The Great Record Hunt pilot, when it screens tomorrow (6/22) as part of TV Block 3, at Dances With Films.