Imagine getting off the subway on a Friday evening after work, hitting the wine shop for a nice bottle, then swinging by the record store for your favorite artist's latest album and heading home for the night to enjoy both.
That's the ideal–and decidedly retro–routine Pat Lombardo envisioned when he first walked from the subway to the small storefront that would become Cinderblock People, the new music shop he owns with his partner, Emily Weill. And if you happen to live near the 145th Street station on FDB, that perfect evening–say, a bottle of red from Hamilton Wine House and Beyonce's Lemonade on vinyl–can now be yours.
The two-month-old store, launched with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, sells new, classic and some used records and tapes in genres including Soul & Jazz, Hip Hop, and House & Techno. Visitors can sample the music on the store's turntables or a vintage portable tape player. Lombardo, who lives with Weill in East Harlem, chose to open uptown because he thought "there's got to be other people who are interested in records and tapes and don't want to go to Williamsburg."
Actually, it's hard to think of a more fitting place to set up a music store than Harlem, with its history as an incubator for jazz, swing, R&B, gospel and hip hop. Locals don't just come to browse and listen–some even drop in to see if they can sell their old records. But Lombardo only likes to take a few at at time, cautioning sellers, "This is your history, this is your culture." After all, he says, they just might change their minds and find a turntable on which to play their family's old vinyl.
Photo: Cinderblock People
The store is open until 8pm (except Tuesdays), so there is actually plenty of time to swing by after work. Pass by any earlier or later and you'll be greeted by a graphic metal gate covered in a design by BlusterOne, a New York artist whose work is also sold inside. The collaboration is part of the 100 Gates Project, which matches artists with stores (in certain neighborhoods) that have metal gates in need of a facelift.
Photo: Cinderblock People
Along with records, tapes and art, Cinderblock People also offers a vinyl-to-MP3 transfer service and monthly events hosted by DJs like Sybil Jason (FARCED), who showed up over Labor Day weekend to spin some beats (photo above); check the shop's Facebook page for news on upcoming events. Whatever it may be that draws you into the shop, Lombardo wants you to give the internet a night off and discover a new artist or gem that you can actually put in pride of place on your shelf at home.