The old school is en vogue in Paducah, as the vinyl comeback found its way to the town in a big way in 2018.

Vinyl's global resurgence has been a long and slow climb back into relevance, but it doesn't seem to be slowing down.

According to Nielsen, 13 million new records were sold in 2016, and 2017 saw over 15 million in new wax purchased.

And that doesn't even account for the innumerable amount of used records bought and sold via eBay or at yard sales and antique shops, like Paducah's Antique Galleria, which holds an astounding 20,000 records in its upstairs music section, with thousands more in storage.

"It hasn't been a boom, but instead a slow escalation," said Randy Knight of Antique Galleria. "The swing is up. Sales were steady but probably at 10 percent of what we're doing now."

The customers that come into Knight's shop cover a wide range, everything from older collectors hunting down little-known rarities to casual music fans just looking to browse and vinyl newbies buying their first record.

The biggest change, Knight said, has been in the knowledge level of the consumer.

"When things started taking off and people started coming in with specific requests, and that's when I knew things were really changing," he said. "I've got a huge crowd coming in with very specific taste in what they want. Nowadays, I even actually do want lists so that I know to pull stuff for people when I find it in the stacks."

The city hosted its first Atomic City Record Collector's Convention in June.

After the first one drew several hundred people, a second gathering was thrown in September with more visiting vendors and attendees.

The turn-outs have convinced the event organizers to start planning the next one for spring 2019.

There are more places than ever to buy used and new vinyl in the area.

Aside from the Antique Galleria, you can go to Paducah Antique Mall, where Knight first started, or check out Allen Music, where you can peruse boxes of old country LPs and then pick up a guitar.

There's The Shed, home to plenty of bins of retro tunes, or Paducah Vinyl, the newest option, which is nestled inside of Paducah Books on the Southside.

When it comes to new records, the mall area is the place to go, as Best Buy, Fye and Books-A-Million all deal in bygone format.

The preponderance of places to buy LPs is most interesting to Leighton Allen, who runs Paducah Vinyl and started the Paducah Vinyl Record Collectors group on Facebook.

When Allen started the group on the site in 2014, he never thought it would get any real amount of attention. It's now pushing 300 members.

"I really don't know why Paducah, in particular, is booming for records right now. It's really cool, though," Allen said. "It's got me thinking that Paducah could support a real record store."

One of the areas that Allen is trying to focus on is the availability of local music on vinyl in his booth.

More local albums have been pressed in the last handful of years than most would think: Chris Black's "30 West Allmon St. Apt B," which the singer/songwriter just had pressed earlier this year; The Savage Radley's 2017 debut LP "Kudzu," released on a label that lead singer Shaina Goodman runs herself; and "Move Him Into the Sun," the swan song of Red Ember, the now-defunct bluegrass fusion group; among several others.

While it's not immediately clear why vinyl is being resurrected by the public at large, Knight and Leighton both believe that there's something special about the experience of listening to records.

"It's just something that feels like home to me," Allen explained. "It's just more honest in some indescribable way."

Knight believes that they just sound better.

"Even if you've got the best earphones in the world, a really good record sounds better than anything on a CD or computer," Knight said. "They're compressing the snot out of it and you can never hear the subtleties that you can on the record."

The physicality of records, in contrast to the illusory nature of digital files, is one of the big pluses of the format for Knight.

"Vinyl records are visual and tactile," he said. "They're something you can touch and hold in your hands. They're just so much more real than something you download."

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