Once a month, tucked away in the soundproof Fox Den room of Leroy Fox restaurant in Providence Village shopping center, a group of up to 20 men can be found jamming to some of the best music of the last century.
The Queen City Album Club (QCAC), as they call themselves, was started by two friends who love music in November 2012. After putting together a list of about 15 men who were also music fanatics, James Stouse and Brooke Pitts decided to officially form the group they had talked about for several years.
Essentially, it’s the exact same thing as a book club – but for albums
James Stouse, co-founder of Queen City Album Club
In the beginning, each man would take turns hosting the group every other month at his home. The host for the evening selected the record – often something off the list Rolling Stone compiled of 500 greatest albums of all time. As the group grew – through word of mouth among friends – the members decided to start meeting monthly and acquired the use of the Leroy Fox private room for their events.
“Essentially, it’s the exact same thing as a book club – but for albums,” Stouse said. “It was sort of weird that nobody else was doing it.”
Once the group gathers, the host gives background on the artist or band he selected and why he chose that record. All members are told about the album ahead of time and encouraged to listen to it, but it is played again for all to enjoy and discuss during the meeting.
As the music plays, there is a continual buzz of chatter underlying the music filling the small space. Then men talk about the album, about their lives and about music in general. When the album finishes playing, the group discusses overall thoughts and impressions.
During the last couple years, the group has selected albums such as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Green River,” Ray Charles’ “Modern Sounds in Country and Western,” Bob Marley’s “Exodus” and Patti Smith’s “Horses.”
While there are about 30 men on the list as members of the club each meeting usually attracts between 10 and 15 men, all in their late 30s to 40s.
“You have a couple of serious musicians, but everyone in the group brings a different musical perspective,” Pitts said.
Two albums were selected for the September meeting: “#1 Record” and “Radio City,” both by Big Star.
“I found out about Big Star through the ’80s band The Replacements who did a song called ‘Alex Chilton,’ and so I wanted to find out who Alex Chilton was – and I found out he was one of the co-singer/songwriters for this band called Big Star,” said Scott Davis, a co-host for the Sept. 10 meeting. “They were sort of the first power-pop record that came out in the early ’70s. It was very critically acclaimed, but had no commercial success.”
Despite their shared musical fervor, many of the men have been introduced to albums they had never heard before thanks to the eclectic tastes and discoveries of other members.
“Everyone tries to top everyone else with what they pick,” said William Bray, one of the members.
This year, club members decided to make their group about more than just listening to great albums. They wanted to add an element of giving back that tied in with their love of music. They agreed that each member would give a minimum $50 contribution at the beginning of each year to go toward a good cause.
That cause was found when Pitts established a relationship with the Community School for the Arts. It was decided the group would use the money raised to send low-income children to music lessons for a year. So far they have collected $1,500 – enough to provide two children with lessons.
The club has also inspired two other men to start similar groups in New Jersey and Texas. The men who started their album clubs got the idea after being invited to a QCAC meeting with friends while in town visiting. Stouse and Pitts are glad their seemingly simple idea has inspired others, and are happy to offer advice or answer questions from anyone wishing to start their own album club.
“Ours is pretty open-ended musically, but you could do it with anything – you could make it about country, classical, jazz, new music – anything,” Stouse said.
Lauren Bailey is a freelance writer: Lbailey.firstname.lastname@example.org.