Capital Audiofest 2021 was a fantastic show. Everyone I spoke to—vendors, visitors, the helpful Hilton staff—was jazzed to be there. Everyone was in good spirits. While I didn’t see as many attendees in total as at the 2019 CAF show pre-Covid, every room I visited was full, and in many midday cases, standing-room-only.
On Sunday, the last day of the 3-day event, I asked show director Gary Gill about attendance, “We're all pleasantly surprised," he responded. "Sunday is a slow day, but I’m thinking around 2300 total. Typically, pre COVID, we’d have 500 on a Friday, but this Friday we had about 750. Totally surprised me. ... Yesterday, we ran out of 1500 programs,” he added.
I can confirm that fact because mid-weekend I was searching for programs and found none. My running buddy, Sound & Vision contributor Mike Trei told me that his program was lifted while he was at lunch! Program thieves!
Whitehall, Maryland’s Chris Armbruster, of Cashformusic.com, who had vinyl titles on sale from Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, Hazel Scott, and Lee Morgan priced to sell, said that sales were decent and the experience was better. “Last Capital Audiofest, I probably brought twice as many records,” Chris said. “But the turnout for this show, so far, is better than expected. For me, as a record guy interacting with audiophiles, I love to show here, talking to guys who have created systems that are mind-blowing. It's just great to see these kinds of people who are really into it again.”
I was solo at this year's show, but the late Art Dudley made an appearance in a sense, paid tribute by Volti Audio’s Greg Roberts, who put up a poster outside Volti’s third-floor room near the elevator.
Gary Gill summed up the event well when he said, “It felt like a family reunion.”