An Investment in Soul

What depression? There's nothing like a good old-fashioned listening party for lighting a fire on your savings account. Might as well spend your money now before it disappears. Turn your money into stuff. Turn your stuff into records. John DeVore should charge admission to his new listening room. Perhaps he'll accept payment in vinyl. I'd happily pay one limited edition pressing for an evening of outstanding music and fine company.

The room reminds me of one of his loudspeakers: Nothing fancy, but completely gorgeous. You should see its crosshatched Oriented Strand Board walls lined in so much vinyl and obscure, vintage gear, and its new wood floors and its soft, honey light. And the sound. John says the Strand Board sounds good. It sure is cheap. And green. As in: renewable. President Obama would approve. The sound certainly has something to do with the gear, and maybe also something to do with the beverages, and maybe something to do with the other listeners. Top-notch, all of the above. Not a single aspect lame.

The room needs a name! The room needs a name. If the room is to go down in hi-fi fame, then the room needs a name. Decades from now, when people discuss important moments in hi-fi, they'll want to discuss the room. Call it by name. Say I was there. When these speakers were launched. When these jokes were told. When these drinks were mixed. When these plans were made. When these most radical, dangerous, mind-altering, shape-shifting, heartbreaking musical treasures were unearthed. For the very first time. I was there. In Room 510 of Building 280, with the tired ghosts of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the shattered glass and the green puddles and the red lights in the winter sky, and just a few blocks away, beyond the projects and below the bridges, where years ago took place unmentionable things and hateful things, where people screamed and screwed and worked like hell, there now live the most enigmatic young women, who even on the coldest of winter nights burn with a summer's heat (you know the kind), I was there.

So we listened to some music and drank some booze and shot the shit, too. It was good, good, good. I wound up spending money meant to be saved. But saved for what? It's impossible not to spend money when you always spend your time with such deep music lovers. It's one of the drawbacks, and one of the perks. Vinyl-rich, cash-poor. I'll pay the price and reap the music.

I was standing in the other room, beyond the listening walls, inspecting the packaging of a Gibbon Nine (it was excellent), when I heard it: Thunderous clangs and whistles and screams. And I knew I had to have it. It was George Coleman, also known as "Bongo Joe." (Mississippi Records MR-022.) Buy it while you can. All of Mississippi's offerings are limited editions. So you're not only buying great music, you're buying a piece of history. Want to know about Bongo Joe before you drop the coin?

Coleman's drum is a 55 gallon oil drum shaped with a hand ax in a curious series of dents, bulges, cuts and wrinkles. His drum sticks are made from hammer handles, the bases of hand oil cans filled with pebble and B-B shot to provide a rattle, and rubber chair leg caps. The entire set-up is the result of trial and error experimentation that has occurred since George was turned down for a drummers job in Houston during the late forties.

As a matter of fact, I visited the Forced Exposure site and purchased all of the available Mississippi Records. Why not? It was easy. Just click, click, click. Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching. That's the sound of music. I have Tone Imports' Jonathan Halpern and Touch Move's Michael Lavorgna to thank for my dwindling savings account. Screw you, recession. Besides, all of the Mississippi Records are awesome and I'd only hate myself for passing any up. Plus, they're cheap. Prices range from $10 to $13. A steal, really.

Do it. Good music will cure any depression. Get that economy pumping. It's an investment in your soul.

Next time I visit the DeVore Fidelity factory, I'll have some of my own music to share. And maybe the listening room will have a name.

Trey's picture

"Good music will cure any depression."Amen Brother.Good music is a neural hack that can bypass the frontal lobes to tickle the deeper recesses of the brain. It has cured many of my worse moods.I once considered dating a lovely woman who was a music lover. She played me some of her favorites, Mazzy Star, Cowboy Junkies, but only the ponderously slow tunes. "Isn't this great? It is SO depressing! Sometimes I come home and use this music to get all depressed. It is my drug."That has always struck me as such a novel thought: Using music to feel worse.Interesting world.Trey

tomcollins's picture

agree totally stephen. from all the great talk i have heard about john's products, i would love to hear them myself. at least we have run out of june. oh, i just got a dedicated line put in this morning and am waiting for an upgraded set of speaker wires by ups. so, not all is bad. also, even though i can't post to the forum, this still seems to work when i can get the security thing to work.

Trey's picture

Tom, how does the dedicated line affect your sound? And if I may be so bold, how much did it cost?Trey

daryl's picture

I completely agree with choosing vinyl richness. My music is what provides me with the articulate expression of my thoughts and feeling. Money is to buy what we need. We need the arts, and music is one of the most accesible forms of art we have. I too enjoy getting together with friends, sharing and learning about music, wine, etc. No financial crisis can take away life experiences.

Jared's picture

Stephen, you are so lucky have time to hang with people who listen to music at all! So many people I know use music as a sort of filler in the day to day. I've asked good friends what they thought about lyrics of a particular song that I know they've 'heard' or the way a bridge is crafted into a catchy tune...they haven't ever thought about it. Few people seem to really sink into music anymore. DeVore's room definitely needs a title. Probably should include something to do with cats...Anyway, great post.

tomcollins's picture

trey: i first noticed that there was no background noise such as hum. it had not been a problem before, but was present at higher volumes. then, for some reason, my cartridge seemed to run more quietly in the groove which was totally unexpected, but great. the house is very old and i think that my other outlet was not actually grounded so that had to help. last, i think there is some improvement in the quality of the lower bass as far as definition goes. now, this will make you cry. it cost under $100.00, he fixed something else while there too. there are a couple of reasons for that. first, i already had the (hospital grade) outlet, wire and mounting case (old plaster walls) still under $100 for parts. the run was only about 50 feet to the box with already had a vacant 20 amp circuit and aside from a crawl space, it was easy work. finally, the electrician is a friend of mine. so your experience may vary. a very satisfactory upgrade, would have been worth 5 times the price i believe.

Trey's picture

Wow. That is seriously cool info. My situation is rather similar, well, except for the friendly electrician! Thanks!Trey - who will be waiting for the electrician, or someone like him

ken mac's picture

Brooklyn Navy Yard...beautiful looks and sound...

Donald's picture

Fan of Stereophile and 6moons (and other) that lead me to your blog (again) - wonder piece - thank you!

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