#NoFilter: An Interview With Instagram Crate Digger @shulmanthesoulman

On January 10th 2017 » By Jeffrey David Harvey

There are hundreds of ways to discover music across competing social media platforms right now, and we want to help make the process easier. Many record collectors are sharing their latest finds and highlights from their personal collections on Instagram, and each month our own IG record blogger, @lostrpm, spotlights one account he admires in hopes of turning you on to something you may not have heard before. We call it #NoFilter.

When I first discovered Benjamin Shulman, aka @shulmanthesoulman on Instagram, I immediately knew I had found a kindred record digging spirit north of the border. It seems with almost every post, this Montreal-based collector consistently comes up on hard-to-find 45s and LPs, and shares them with his followers.

Don’t let his handle fool you; Shulman doesn’t just dig soul records. He’s a connoisseur of all things obscure. Rare 60s garage, mod, northern soul, rockabilly, popcorn instros, and just about any other genre you could imagine. Not only does the guy have killer taste in music, he also sources these insane records from the most interesting places. Let’s let him tell you about it.

VMP: Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Ben Shulman. I’m 24, I’m from Montreal, and I dig 45s.

When did you start collecting records and why?

As a child I was exposed to the right kinds of music. Anytime I was in the car with my parents, we were either listening to an oldies station, or to some cassette compilation of “car tunes.’”

We had a CD, one of those Time Life Greatest Hits of 1965 things that I absolutely fell in love with. Of course I had no idea what the songs were called and who the artists were, but at age five I knew I was crazy about Wilson Pickett, the Yardbirds, the Beau Brummels, Barbara Mason, etc. My focus soon turned to Motown, and I developed a taste for anything and everything Motown - especially the Temptations.

At age 11 my mother brought home one of those cheap mass-produced Costco turntables that had a CD and cassette player built in to it. This was when I decided I needed every single record ever made by the Temptations. The greatest hits CD compilations just didn’t cut it, so 11-year-old me started going to record stores every weekend looking for Temptations records.

This is where the obsession started and I haven’t looked back.

What is your specialty in collecting? (genre, format, etc.)

I started out collecting albums, but for the past six years or so I’ve become a full-on 45 nut. I’ve always had an intense interest and passion for ‘60s soul music. As any collector of that genre could tell you, for every great ‘60s soul album that exists, there are about 5,000 45s by artists who never had a chance to record an album - let alone cut more than one single!

Also, when I turned 18 (the legal drinking age here in Canada), I started spinning records in nightclubs around town: 45s are a lot lighter to lug around!

How many records are in your collection?

A few hundred albums and about 10,000 45s.

What are your favorite places to dig? (specific or in general)

People’s basements / garages / attics / crawl spaces / barns / sheds etc.

Give us your craziest record digging story

Oh my. Well, here’s one: In October of 2015 I drove down to New Orleans from Montreal (alone, I might add) to attend the Ponderosa Stomp Music Festival. Me being me, I decided it wouldn’t be a proper road trip unless I detoured at some point to try and find some cool 45s down south.

After some online searching, I came across the name of this hole-in-the-wall shop in Pensacola, FL that looked kind of promising. Judging by the photos online, it looked like a smelly, moldy, death pit where records go to die - my kind of place!

I called up the number and ended up talking to a gentleman with a ridiculously thick Southern accent that I could barely decipher. He told me to meet him at the shop at 1 in the afternoon.

I show up promptly at 1, and of course the guy doesn’t get there until 2. He hops out of the passenger seat of a beat up 80’s station wagon and get this - he’s blind. His driver, a foul-mouthed woman in overalls leads us into the shop.

I was right, it smelled horrendous, but better yet, there are records EVERYWHERE. I spent 3-4 hours (way more time than anticipated), digging through box after box of 45s, finding all kinds of interesting and oddball records.

As I’m digging, the blind owner’s driver/assistant starts going on a ridiculous racist rant, insulting every minority known to man. Finally, after this woman has encompassed every possible stereotype of a wacked-out southerner, I ask how much the records are.

The blind man asks me to bring him the box of records. He starts going through them one by one, feeling them - and yes - smelling them. This is how he decided the prices. I shit you not. Anyway, I ended up leaving the place with over 100 45s for a buck a piece. Definitely one of my more interesting digs.

What’s the rarest record you’ve ever found?

The Tiaras’ “Foolish Girl” on Op-Art.

What advice do you have for the next generation of record diggers?

Enjoying music is way more satisfying when your hands get dirty trying to find it.

Come to the SPINS, our monthly listening party

Jeffrey Harvey

Jeffrey David Harvey

Jeffrey David Harvey is a record collector/archivist/music historian who focuses most of his time looking for lost and forgotten music at thrift stores, garage sales, and junk shops. You can check out his latest finds at on his Twitter and Instagram. He also runs lostrpm.blogspot.com for those who prefer nostalgia in their internet surfing.

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