by AARON BREWINGTON
The Bloomington Music Expo—part record and music-memorabilia show, part art and music festival— will be held Saturday, February 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Monroe Convention Center. The event, now in its second year, came from the mind of Mike McAfee, executive director of Visit Bloomington.
McAfee, an avid collector of vinyl records and host of a radio program on WFHB, says he came up with the idea while at a vinyl show in Indianapolis. He thought the music scene in Bloomington might draw a few vendors from out of town and garner some attention for local music-focused businesses like Landlocked Music, Let’s Pretend Records, and Secretly Canadian.
“With vinyl on pace to outsell CDs for the first time since CDs came into existence, there is a market for records,” McAfee says. “Looking at all this, I said, ‘We can do this here.’”
He expected 20 or so vendors and a few hundred people to attend the 2019 expo. Instead, 60 vendors signed on and 1,000 people came.
Following last year’s success, the 2020 event has attracted several notable names, including headliners Songs: Molina—A Memorial Electric Co., the former band of the late Jason Molina, and Amy O, founder of Girls Rock Bloomington (a music camp for girls, trans, and non-binary youth) who released her third album, Shell, in October.
Other planned events include a talk by Erin Osmon, author of Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost, and an art installation by Austin, Texas–based artist/musician Will Johnson, who will kick off the weekend with a show at Lennie’s on Friday, February 7.
The $5 cover charge will be donated to a progressive cause (not determined at Bloom’s deadline). Last year the event raised nearly $4,000 for MidWay Music Speaks, a music festival that promotes women and non-binary people in the music industry.
“My goal is to have something that starts during the week and is anchored by the expo on Saturday,” McAfee says. “Doing this well really calls attention to Bloomington music.”
For more information, visit bloomingtonmusicexpo.com.