Record Riot Sealed With KISS

Karen Ponzio Photo Pat Prince edits Goldmine, a print and online magazine that caters to the vinyl and music collector. “Once KISS took off their makeup, that was the end of them for a lot of people,” he said during one of many musical discussions people were having at a “Record Riot” on Sunday at the Annex YMA Club Lounge and Hall on Woodward Avenue. Later on, New Haven musician Tim Goselin pulled the KISS album Animalize out of the stacks and smiled.

“This was one of the ones that did it for me as a kid. I love their stuff from when they stopped wearing the makeup. I’m always looking for those records,” he said.

Record Riot comes twice a year to New Haven, bringing in record dealers from the East Coast and Canada for a day of buying and selling music, as well as reminiscing and debating — interestingly enough, often about KISS — in the large hall of the Annex YMA. Table after table lined the room and filled the center as well, covering the place in records, posters, CDs, tapes, and books. People of all ages eagerly scanned the boxes and shared information and stories, not only with the sellers but with each other.

John Bastone and Steve Gritzan have been bringing Record Riot to the YMA Annex for the past eight years, along with other Record Riots in Hartford, Cromwell, Albany, N.Y., Jersey City, N.J., and Philadelphia. Bastone was a seller for over 20 years and started running events almost a decade ago.

“We like it here,” he said. “It’s a large space with a lot of parking. You see the same people returning, but we have also seen a younger crowd coming in more recently. We’ve been doing a lot more with social media so that may be why.” He mentioned that many people first come to Record Riot as buyers and collectors, then accumulate so many records they often become vendors.

Ronald Webb, one of the vendors, said that he has accumulated “thousands upon thousands” of records. Some he brings to Record Riot. Others he keeps “locked away.” Webb was also acting as a representative of the Connecticut Record Club. He’s one of the club’s founding members and said that members actually used to meet at the Annex. Webb has been selling at Record Riot for about five years though he has been into records his entire life. He’s a fan and collector of early ‘70s music as well as a huge fan of Saturday morning cartoon theme songs; the Scooby Doo cartoon chase theme is what got him into collecting records in the first place. 

“The records I sell are what I know. I know the ‘70s and ‘80s, and have stuff for people looking for the originals, not remasters,” he said. The first album he ever owned? “The Jaws movie soundtrack,” said Webb.

Goselin, a member of the bands Mercy Choir, Telegram Scam, and Teenagers from Mars, comes to Record Riot mostly to browse. “I look for old punk and ‘80s garage rock. The stuff I really like, ‘60s surf rock, is not to be found,” he said — though he still looks for it as well as “things that are off the beaten path” and “of course any KISS records.”

He said he always comes back to vinyl because that’s what he grew up with and “when I got old enough and was able to buy my own stuff, that’s what I wanted.” He only ended up eventually buying CDs because “you can’t play a record in the car,” he said with a laugh. On Sunday he bought two early Killing Joke records.

Joe Esposito, 45, of East Haven, left with ABC’s Lexicon of Love, Queensryche’s The Warning, and Sister Mary by The Dispossessed, a local band. “I collect records by local bands too,” he noted, but also got ones he needed “upgrades” for, “like if a cover had writing on it or was not as clean.”

Esposito has been coming to Record Riot since it started and has been collecting since the age of 11. “Instead of a toy I wanted a record. I appreciated art, and every record is a little piece of art. I would play the record and look at the album cover and hear the art speak to me,” he said. Calling himself an “audiophile,” he described a ritual he has of coming home from work, putting on an album and having a glass of wine. “It’s relaxing for me. It’s nostalgia, part of my childhood.” He says he originally got “sucked in” by KISS as a kid. The band included toys and posters with its albums, and was the group Esposito saw in concert (full disclosure: KISS was also this reporter’s first live concert).

“They were marketing geniuses,” Esposito said with a smile.

John Gorlewski, another vendor at the show, grew up in a house in Illinois “that looked like a record store” due to his father being a DJ. He later worked at a record store and then owned his own, accumulating quite the collection. When he moved to Middletown, Conn. about three years ago, he started selling records online and at shows like this one under the name Bad Kitty Music, with a collection that spanned the ‘50s through the ‘80s.

”It’s fun to talk to people” Gorlewski said. “The record collector is an interesting person and often gets into heated debates about what they like.” He had no comment about KISS, other than to say they were “influential in packaging and marketing.” He also noted that the first record he ever bought was Stevie Ray Vaughn’s first record. The most expensive record he ever sold was by Legend, a band from the 1970s New Haven music scene.

“I think New Haven is cool,” Gorlewski said with a hearty laugh. He had a record player behind his table and offered to play a record for anyone who wanted to hear it before they bought it. “Some want to check it out first,” he said, “and that’s okay with me. I’m having fun.”

The next New Haven Record Riot at the Annex YMA Club Lounge and Hall, 554 Woodward Ave., is scheduled for Mar. 11, 2018. Click here for the full schedule of Record Riots across the Northeast.

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posted by: compassionateconservative on November 13, 2017  1:32pm

It’s a very fun event, and John Bastone runs a good show. It’s hard to believe that New Haven has not has a record store since Cutler’s shut down, but at least there is the CT Record Club, which meets once a month in North Haven, and there are some great record stores all around the area.

I hope New Haven can keep things a little funky with Record Riots, because Broadway - where the only record store in New Haven used to be - has become yet another hoity-toity upscale outdoor shopping mall, pretty much. There isn’t even a thrift store left in this town, as the city jumped all over the building boom for apartments and condos, and the flavor of New Haven has changed significantly over the last 15 years.

Thanks for bringing the Record Riot to New Haven, John and Steve!
Sam