Vinyl Revival Of Elkmont: Providing The Joy That’s In The Records

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Keith Montgomery is a local guy who was born and raised in Athens-Limestone, and is the youngest of six children. He graduated from Ardmore High in 1975, and was then blessed to have a teacher at the Tech Center who saw something in him. The teacher’s name was Mr. George Mitchell, and to this day Keith is grateful for the fact that Mr. Mitchell helped Keith learn the graphic arts and printing trade well enough to make it a life-long career. Of course, this was back before everything went desktop and digital, but it gave Keith the chance to spread his wings wide.

Keith worked for Minute Man press in Decatur, and did free lance work as well. Then he decided to move to the Detroit area to work and be in the rock-and-roll scene. It was a wild time by his own admission, and he played bass for several cover bands. He married and became the father of three children, and knew that getting back home to the South was going to be a much better choice for everyone.

During the Detroit days and before, Keith began to develop a love both for collecting vinyl records as well as excellent equipment upon which to play them. He brought that love back home, and while printing has been his life long career, everything and anything that has to do with “old school” recordings of every genre of music is what lights him up, and he knows his stuff.

The very first time I walked into Vinyl Revival, located at 18855 Upper Fort Hampton Road across from Red Caboose Café, I asked Keith for help with a possible project to help my mom. My sisters were wanting me to find something like a Walkman or Discman that used fairly simple technology that my mom could manage so that she could listen to music from her era. She is 99 years old, and music that is anchored to her past is powerfully therapeutic. Keith sprang into brainstorm mode to come up with something that would meet the needs of my mom, and his concern for her, someone that he does not know, touched me.

The next time I came into Keith’s shop, I was greeted by the sight of a Judy Collins album that was recorded in 1967, and entitled Wildflowers. I owned it as a teenager and used to perform most of the songs on it. It was a bittersweet blast from the past, and the place has hundreds of albums of every genre that I am sure have their own story to tell or are set to music.

Keith knows that it takes special equipment to support the full spectrum of sound that can only be heard on a vinyl record, and so the other part of Vinyl Revival is the sale of speakers, turntables, and accessories that will make that happen. I asked Keith what the most valuable piece of equipment was that he had ever owned, and he told me that at one time he had a 1965 Macintosh tube amplifier. Some of his trade has been exporting speakers to SE Asia, which still has a large market for equipment from the ‘70s. At Vinyl Revival you can buy equipment, or you can sell it; same with records.

Keith gets his inventory from a number of sources. Sometimes he goes to thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales. “One time a guy sold me 8,000 albums, all at the same time,” he told me. I asked Keith what was the most valuable album in the shop, and figured it would be something produced by the Beatles. He actually had a copy of their very first release, as well as a pristine Abbey Road that was still sealed in the wrapper, and had never been opened. I could have stayed in Vinyl Revival all day and never come to the end of the treasures there. If you are looking for that special album, Keith will get on the trail of it for you, and if it can be found, he’ll find it.

Another feature of the shop is the mezzanine floor upstairs, which has been converted into a venue for movies as well as concerts. Keith purchased some of the theatre seats from Athens Bible School and will be showing Indie films on Friday nights. They also have hosted fresh-air concerts outside on the patio, featuring local bands, and are looking to be a place where musical groups can get both exposure and experience before audiences. Live music or record albums, Vinyl Revival is the place to go, and Keith Montgomery is the guy who loves what he does, and is ready to help.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner