Fans from all over California drove to Traffic Records to meet the music legend

ATASCADERO — A line of Neil Young’s fans started forming in front of Atascadero’s local record store, Traffic Records, as early as 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7. It was announced via Traffic Record’s social media platforms on Wednesday, Dec. 6, that Young would be holding a signing for the release of his new album, “Before and After” at the record store from 12 to 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8.

“I showed up this morning at 6:45 with my 9-year-old, and I didn’t think we’d have to get here earlier than that, but there was probably already 100-plus people in line to buy the LP and CD, so we waited to purchase, and then I had some obligations, came back about 10:30,” said local resident Kirstin Andrews.

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Neil Young signs his new album “Before and After” at Traffic Records in Atascadero. Photo by Rick Evans.

Andrews was raised on Young’s music and saw him live in 2016 in Indio, California, at the music festival dubbed “Oldchella.” Like everyone else in line, she couldn’t wait to get her hands on Young’s newest release, which set her up to have her album signed by the legend.


The line was huge by 11:30 on Friday morning, which had hundreds of people, 300 of whom were lucky enough to snag an album and a chance to meet Young, stretched from in front of Traffic Records for two blocks before snaking its way into the alley behind establishments like Hop’s Bounce House. 

“Two nights ago, I got a screenshot from somebody; they know I’m obsessed with Neil Young. I got to see him at Vina Robles earlier this year. I followed him to Farm Aid in Pennsylvania six years ago,” said Robin Coleman, who works at Woods Humane Society. “I thought it was fake news. I thought it was a joke. No way, but I did know he loves Atascadero. He loves this area.”

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Fans wait to have their albums signed by Neil Young. Photo by Rick Evans.

In fact, Young has stopped by Traffic Records on some of his previous trips into the city, creating a relationship with owner Manuel Barba. So, it makes sense that Young’s team would call up Barba and see if Traffic Records would host his public appearance on release day. The “Before and After” signing brought fans from as far as San Diego, who drove all the way to Atascadero just to meet the man himself.

“I am so excited that he (Young) is showing this awesome community some love,” Coleman said. “I love that he loves where we live.”

It was a family affair for some in line, with multiple generations who love Young’s music waiting together. Local Atascadero resident Martha Bereman was there with her sister, Jean Higgins, and niece, Brooke Johnson, who she found out about the signing from.

“We’ve been to concerts but never met him; both my sister and my niece have had them (Young and his actress wife Daryl Hannah) eat in their establishments,” said Bereman.

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Fans wait in line to meet Neil Young in Atascadero. Photo by Rick Evans.

Higgins owns Di Raimondo’s Italian Market, while her daughter, Johnson, owns Brunch in Paso Robles. All three members of the family were in line to meet Young since before 5:40 a.m. and said that waiting in line had been a blast so far.

“Someone showed up with some doughnuts. Someone showed up with some cookies,” stated Higgins. “People are watching each other’s chairs, taking care of each other.” 

Lee Sandoval, a fan of Young’s since the late ’60s, who has seen the musician play live a handful of times, had been in line since 6:20 a.m. and was excited to add a signed copy of Young’s latest to his extensive vinyl collection.

Young arrived at Traffic Records right before noon on his tour bus, accompanied by his wife, Daryl Hannah, and the rest of his entourage. After about an hour and a half, Young left the premises, which means that fans who showed up later in the day missed out on spotting the musician, but for the people who did get a chance to meet him, it will be something they remember forever. 

Feature Image: Fans wait to have their albums signed by Neil Young. Photo by Rick Evans.