In 1980, Fred Dahlke made a decision to start an organization for music lovers and collectors. There was no such organization in the state of Alabama. The seeds were actually sewn as much as five years earlier. Fred had talked with other music collectors off and on. One, in particular, was from Florida. Fred ran into him at a thrift store looking through records. The man told Fred that there was a music club in Florida that held record shows and such. Fred was intrigued to say the least, so after a while, he decided to form the Alabama Record Collectors Association. The beginnings were small. With six others meeting in Fred’s living room, they formulated out the plans of what ARCA would be.
ARCA then worked out a deal where UAB would provide a room for the monthly meetings, so beginning in March, the group left the coziness of Fred’s living room to go to the UAB campus.
Members have come and gone, but the core principles of why ARCA was started remains.
During this same period, Fred has also been in negotiations with Program Director, Tom Reynolds, at WAPI about doing a weekly show to play the GOOD older music that we all grew up with. He also reasoned that it would be a very good way to promote ARCA. WAPI agreed to try a one-hour show beginning in March, 1980. The show was called, “Original Gold Wax.” Response was so great that, not only did WAPI continue the show, but they expanded it to two hours. Fred remembers driving one day and hearing a promo on the radio announcing his three hour show. Fred was thrilled, but also taken aback, because this was the first time he had heard of his show going to three hours. By the way, Neil Evans had heard the show and joined ARCA the second month. He would also join Fred on the radio show, so it became a two-man show.
The radio show certainly did help boost ARCA’s membership which exploded after the show began. A few of those original members are still members today.
In the spring of 1982, ARCA decided to sponsor Birmingham’s very first Record Show. It was held at the now-gone Parliament House on 20th Street. Fred recalls how nervous he was on the way to the show on that first day, wandering if anyone would show up. As he approached the building, he was simply amazed at what he saw. There was a line of people from inside the building, spilling out the front door and down the walkway. The attendance at that show was over 1200.
The Record Show continued to grow and stayed at the Parliament House for two or three years, then moved to the F.O.P. Lodge on Greensprings Ave. where it remained for many years. After brief stints at the Cascade Plunge and the BJCC, the show is now at its current home, the Bessemer Civic Center, where it has been for several years.
Although now gone, ARCA chapters would spring up in Huntsville and Montgomery.
Members have come and gone, but the core principles of why ARCA was started remains. It is to help preserve recorded music and to give people a place to go to talk with others who share this love of music with regular meetings, to give them a place to go and expand their own collections, be-it large or small, with the CD & Record Show, plus just make new friends with people of similar interests and have fun events like the picnic, Christmas party and occasional field trips.
You don’t have to subscribe to one particular genre of music. Music is music, whether it’s County, Jazz, Classical, Blues, New Age or Rock, nor is the age of the music important. I grew up with 60’s rock, but also love Big Band music of the 30s and 40s, Southern Gospel music and music of today as well as all of the other genres listed.