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North Adams' Belltower Records to Host Summer Jam II
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
03:59AM / Friday, August 09, 2019
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Wes Nelson's Belltower Records caters to audiophiles and hosts musical performances.


Belltower bought out the inventory of the former Toonerville Trolley.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Belltower Records has settled into the community as a hub for music fans, musicians, and audiophiles alike.
 
It is easy to lose a few hours on the third floor of the Norad Mill digging through the overflowing record crates at the independent music store.
 
"We have just been longtime collectors, my wife and I, and we have been looking to do something for a while and we basically stumbled upon this," owner Wes Nelson said recently.
 
With news that Hal March, owner of Toonerville Trolley Records in Williamstown, was looking to close and sell his business in 2017, a shockwave rippled through the Northern Berkshire record collecting community.
 
Collectors knew that in the near future they would have to travel farther than Williamstown to satiate their need to fervently dig through crates of records.
 
That day came and a "closed" sign was fixed to March's door.
 
It was over.
 
But in 2018,  Nelson and his wife, Andrea Belair, announced that they had purchased March's inventory and planned to open up their own record store in the Norad Mill in the West End.
 
"We opened this October and business has been steady," Nelson said. "There is still lots to be done in the building but it has been good ... it has been pretty much full steam ahead."
 
So the local record store was saved but collectors were still dealing with another loss: March, their local record store guy — an important relationship in any audiophile's life.
 
But Nelson and Belair seem to be fitting the bill and are able to bring in what the people want.
 
"Our collection is largely our own taste but we do take note of what our customers like," Nelson said. "We try to keep it diverse in that way and cater to peoples' tastes."
 
Beyond selling records, CDs, and even cassette tapes, Belltower looks to be part of the larger music community. 
 
"I wouldn't say that we are the locus of any community here but we are part of it," he said. "We are new here and want to contribute. "
 
Belltower hosts live shows and Nelson said they use their connections to bring in live acts that may be on tour.
 
"If we have friends on tour we hook them up with a little gig," Nelson said. "We try to serve the music community."
 
Typically the shows take place in the store but on Saturday, Aug. 10, Belltower will host a larger show in the mill's reception room on the third floor.
 
There are more than 10 acts included in the lineup for Summer Jam II and Wandering Star Brewery will be selling beverages.
 
More information can be found here.
 
Vinyl has gone through a revival and many would argue that it sounds better than its digital counterpart, with more sonic information packed into the grooves.
 
For others it is about participating in a tradition; an older way of listening to music without an internet connection or a cell phone.
 
Nelson is less concerned with how people listen but rather the fact that people are listening. It is more important to be open to new sounds than it is to be a vinyl purist.
 
Which is what Belltower Records is all about: new sounds from the past, new sounds from the present, and introducing people to new music through live entertainment. 
 
"I don't know if it is about getting into vinyl," he said. "I think it is about getting into music, period. It is about maintaining a curiosity and a willingness to explore."
 
More information on new products and upcoming shows can be found on the store's Facebook page.
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