Digs at Bigs: It’s all about the vinyl

Adelaide vinyl collectors and DJs will be selling records spanning funk, soul, disco, boogie and hip-hip at a boutique record fair and music event on Saturday that will spin off into a night-time disco street party.

Nov 28, 2017, updated Nov 28, 2017
The first Digs at Bigs record fair.

The first Digs at Bigs record fair.

Nick Dawson, of Funk Bros DJs, describes Digs at Bigs Vol. 2 as a curated record fair that emphasises quality over quantity.

Taking place from 1pm to 4pm this Saturday in the basement and laneway at Biggies at Bertram, Grenfell Street, it will see around 10 sellers each offering up to three crates of records from their own personal collections.

Unlike larger record fairs, where you might expect tables piled with classic rock, pop and folk, plus a liberal spread of Kamahl, the focus of Digs at Bigs is more specific – predominantly soul, disco, funk and hip-hop.

“It’s less digging, but more discussion and recommendation of killer music,” is how Dawson puts it.

Musicians from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s that might pop up among the collections include the likes of Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, James Brown, and Earth Wind & Fire.

But Dawson says there will also be plenty of lesser-known artists and rarer finds, 12-inch disco boogie edits and hip-hop vinyl – “including lots of the original tracks which hip-hop producers have sampled over the years”.

“The funk, soul, disco, hip-hop, early electronic – it’s not as prevalent in Adelaide. A lot of those records weren’t really pressed in Australia, you could only get them overseas, so there’s less of them available here.”

DJs will present all-vinyl sets throughout the day and evening.

Among the Digs at Bigs Vol. 2 sellers will be Ocky and Denzal from Champ Record Sellers, Anth Wendt (Oisima), Medhi (Condesa Electronics), Sam Walker (Three D Radio), hip-hop artist Delta, DJ Penfold, Prince Aaronak, Furious Frank, and Funk Bros DJs.

There will be LPs, 12-inch singles and 7-inch singles available from $1 to around $100, with listening stations set up around the basement, DJs spinning tunes throughout the event, plus boutique brews, banh mi and even a barber lounge.

Continuing the vinyl theme, Disco is Not a Dirty Word is presenting an Electric Avenue street party in the Biggies’ Coromandel Place laneway from 9pm, promoting what organisers describe as “the revival of underground disco music from the 1970s and ’80s”.

Dawson says Digs at Bigs will have a relaxed vibe which welcomes everyone from “newbies” to serious collectors and DJs.

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He introduced the first Digs at Bigs event in August, inspired by a record fair he had attended a few years ago called One Box Wonder, which was organised by DJ and record collector Ocky. He says Ocky had adopted the idea after attending a similar event in Japan, which is known as a hotspot for vinyl collectors.

“What we saw at the first Digs at Bigs was that there were a lot of younger people coming through and getting to chat to those guys who have a really incredible knowledge of the music.

“People didn’t just buy and leave; they stayed around and had a chat … it was more of a personalised experience.

“It had that feel of an old music store you would go and hang out in.”

Digs at Bigs Vol. 1.

Dawson himself has amassed a collection of around 100 LPs, a similar number of 12-inch singles and some 200 7-inch singles.

He started out collecting classic rock-era records – “stuff my parents had on CD but which I was looking to hear on its original source” – then moved into different genres.

His journey into soul music and serious collecting began with the purchase of Wake Up, by John Legend & the Roots, which comprised covers of ’60s and ’70s soul funk songs, given a new twist. It inspired him to dig into the back catalogues of the musicians represented, such as Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield and Donny Hathaway.

Dawson says the most he’s paid for a record was $40 for a 12-inch single of Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, bought before the singer died last year.

“It’s my favourite Prince song and I felt like I had to have it.”

Digs at Bigs Vol. 2 will be in the basement and laneway at Biggies at Bertram from 1-4pm this Saturday. The Electric Avenue street party will kick off at 9pm the same day.

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