Last Collector Standing: Thrift-Shop Expert Adam Newsham on Surf, Bossanova and the Thrill of the Hunt
The number of chain record stores nationwide has dwindled. However, St. Louis has become an unlikely safe haven for indie record shops as well as for DJs who prefer to spin the black circle instead of scrolling their iPods. In this weekly column, we'll focus on personal portraits of St. Louis' record aficionados and the rooms where they store their treasures. Meet the last collectors standing. (Know a collector who deserves the spotlight? E-mail us. Miss any previous ones? Read 'em all here!)
Collector Adam Newsham embraces a vinyl experience you can never find with iTunes: the thrift store culture of digging through used records. He's amassed an impressive, diverse collection of music: His records (which are alphabetized backwards) take up the living room of the Richmond Heights apartment he shares with his wife, Angie, and two-year old son, Aero (named after Eero Saarinen, the Finnish architect responsible for the design of the St. Louis Arch). Meeting late on a Saturday night, Newsham quietly put on Lou Reed's Street Hassle and chatted about the ever-present availability of Sergio Mendes records at thrift stores, Robert Crumb and "The German Liberace," Heino.
Last Collector Standing: What is the last record that you bought?
Adam Newsham: Just today I bought Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood's second album. It's totally awesome! It [has] really cool production. Lots of echo vocals. I love echo on vocals. I'm itchin' to listen to it. I haven't even opened it yet. It's actually sealed from the 1970s. I got that and a Sparks 7 inch, "Something For the Girl Who Has Everything," and Lou Reed's The Bells from Vintage Vinyl.
When did you first start collecting?
The first time I remember getting CDs was through Columbia House. I got Sailing The Seas of Cheese by Primus, the first Helmet album [Strap It On] and I think Sepultura, Beneath the Remains. That's when I first remember buying CDs. When I first got into music I was listening to my parents' record collection. They liked all kinds of stuff. My mom was into musicals. She did musicals in school, so we listen to a lot of that. My dad listened to classical, so we listen to a lot of that. We also listened to a lot of '60s rock.
My uncle also had a big collection. I can remember being really intrigued by it when I was a little kid. He had his office, and my cousin who is my age, the two of us boys weren't allowed in his office. When we'd get in there it was really cool because he had this big wall full of records. We'd start pulling them out and see all these '60s garage bands. As a kid, that had a big effect on me.
I started collecting records right out of high school. I still lived with my parents and started looking through their stuff. I was getting more into music; more into rock and metal. I was trying to find the roots to all that stuff, and having a lot of '60s music helped.
I would basically buy [records] at garage sales or thrift stores. I didn't really go to record stores. I collect all kinds of records. I like modernism and '50s, '60s and '70s furniture. I collect records with those types of pieces on them. I have a whole collection of modernism records.
With records I have a real since of nostalgia. It's hard to describe. I grew up with it, so it just feels real natural. I don't think I've ever downloaded a piece of music. I'm still in the dark ages with [music] media.