2016-10-07 / Community

Vinyl Revolution record show sets sights on St. Paul’s

BY RIKKI N. MASSAND

Nearly a year in the making, it’s prime time for turntables in the village. The Vinyl Revolution Record Show arrives in Garden City for a one-day celebration of music genres at Cluett Hall on the St. Paul’s campus on Sunday, October 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $4. Over 50 dealer tables will be set up by vendors from all over the East Coast, presenting thousands of rare and collectible vinyl records for sale.

Show promoters Mike Schutzman and Randy Gregg both live on Long Island. They appeared in front of the Garden City Recreation Commission to apply for the Cluett Hall location in December of 2015. The process for Commission approval lasted into January, and waiting for confirmation of a show for Sunday, April 3 let much time to promote slip away, so the show date had to be postponed to October 16. But according to Kevin Ocker, Garden City’s department head for recreation and parks, there may be long-term implications for the village to host this stellar record show annually. Ocker commented on his liking for the show’s concept and fit here just ahead of the opening of the new turf fields at Community Park. Ocker says what started as a “unique request” of the village’ Recreation Commission can ‘jazz up’ St. Paul’s facilities like never before.

In an interview with The Garden City News in early September, Randy Gregg explained the attraction of Garden City: an opportunity to hold their event “somewhere central” with St. Paul’s historic, nostalgic atmosphere also being a big draw. The duo’s biggest show is held in Astoria, Queens at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, and the Garden City show builds off momentum from their September 25 show there. Another key venue is in Brooklyn, and twice before the Vinyl Revolution Record Show was put on at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury. But that wasn’t the right Nassau County hot spot.

“We are looking for something compatible and the one we do in Astoria is more compatible with Cluett Hall. They’re very close in size with large square rooms,” Gregg explained to the village’s Rec. Commission last year. He says the choice is all compatibility and strategy.

Gregg sees Cluett Hall holding tremendous potential: their Astoria location has ‘the greatest reputation’ and has been lauded as the very best record show in New York City’s five boroughs. He notes that massive shows such as radio station WFMU’s are popular in New York but several vendors have picked their show instead, and there’s a great turnout of collectors as well as those just stopping in casual shopping. At the Bohemian Hall in September a live concert plus two autograph sessions were planned for the Vinyl Revolution Record Show.

Upon meeting the Recreation Commission in December at the St. Paul’s senior center, Ocker reminded the applicants of insurance requirements to hold the event. They said they will secure their coverage for the show. For 26 years Mike Schutzman owned Slipped Disc Records on Rockaway Avenue in Valley Stream, regarded as a legendary music store destination, so he previously had business insurance. Slipped Disc first opened its doors on March 1, 1982 and finally closed in April of 2008, cited as “another victim of online music downloading.”

“The reason Mike and I run the Vinyl Revolution Record Show is because and I had worked as the manager of the store for the last 10 years. It was a really popular, legendary store and people would fly to New York just to go to Slipped Disc. Mike had that reputation to begin with and when I was working with him there I saw how much we were both musically inclined, we know so much about bands and genres. During my time at the store is when everything went down for the music business – a lot of people were downloading and pirating (Napster) and unfortunately I watched the demise of the record store. At the end Mike started going to a couple of vinyl record shows, selling here and there – eventually the store closed and all he did was the record shows,” Gregg explained in an interview.

The evolution of getting to that point helped them adapt and thrive, transferring a customer service skill set perfect for both casual and serious music fans. It was after maybe 12 record shows of vanilla experiences that they decided they could run a much better production than what they had attended. Gregg says many shows were not held in the right venues or they were promoted and produced poorly. Many vendors they encountered at shows were frustrated.

Last December Gregg and Schutzman told the Commission that they don’t hold shows just anywhere, staying far away from dingy old venues. Their record events are festive with a deejay on-site playing soft shopping music. Gregg tells The Garden City News the village will get a taste of a classic “record store on wheels” with the Vinyl Revolution show.

At their initial Garden City meeting Recreation Commission member Kristina Russo asked if compact discs would also be sold at the show. Gregg says the market demand at other shows indicates strong interests for vinyl records. Schutzman said some vendors may choose to bring CD’s however. Schutzman sells both old and newer vinyl records which is coming out even in 2016. Some vendors and customers approach him at record shows to learn what the latest hits and favorites are. Other ideas Randy Gregg brought forward are clothing vendors and memorabilia, potentially CD/DVD vendors and some who participate in Rock n’ Roll memorabilia events. In its day Slipped Disc Records added to its music collectibles by offering shirts, posters, pins, books, and other accessories. The store also featured autograph signing sessions with some of rock’s biggest acts, and Gregg says at shows this is also part of the mix.

Gregg played in more than one big band’s tour of Europe. He knew Slipped Disc Records was a big enterprise when people on tour would speak with him and recognize him from “that record store in New York.” He considers himself and Schutzman “musicologists” able to help fans and customers by listening to them, then suggesting albums and groups that they might enjoy.

“It used to happen at the record store where people would come in every other day and say they loved one of our suggestions, saying ‘that’s right up my alley’ or ‘you guys always tell me the right thing to listen to.’ But now we still do that at the record shows – there’s 50 tables worth of dealers and they all know music. People come in and ask questions and we’re there to help,” Gregg says.

A large 4’ by 8’ banner sign was planned to be hung up near Cluett Hall weeks’ prior to the Vinyl Revolution show. Gregg takes promotions very seriously, posting the event announcement on many websites targeted for record collectors, casual shoppers and people just looking for entertainment. He’s also very active with social media marketing as well as keeping up on trends.

Food has been one challenge for Garden City and the St. Paul’s location to host a big show. The village has a vendor for the adjacent playing fields but the bevy of Seventh Street’s offering along “restaurant row” is not walking distance from the venue at Cluett Hall. But all day during the Vinyl Revolution Show food and drink will be available for purchase.

Gregg labels the Vinyl Revolution Record show as a real family event. Parents with their children frequent the Astoria record show and several teenage and pre-teen children want to shop for music, Gregg says.

“I see it’s either the parents shopping or the kids shopping as now, vinyl is reaching the younger generation. They sell more vinyl now than they sell CDs,” he said.

With an eye towards the long-term potential of St. Paul’s to host shows, bigger may be better with Garden City in play for a higher turnout and a great number of vendors. Gregg points out that record-themed “supershows” take place often in New Jersey and New York City, but not on Long Island.

“We saw the potential when we were at the NYCB Theatre because as we know, people on Long Island don’t travel to supershows in Jersey. I was on several huge world tours so I have a different mentality of traveling, Mike and I want to bring this to Long Island but it’s really got to work, and the only way to have it work is for people to know about it. We’ll promote it and if it works then we can put on a bigger show and provide this for Long Island,” Gregg said.

For more information on the Vinyl Revolution Record Show, visit the official event Facebook page or vinylrevolutionrecordshow.com.

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