Friday, July 11, 2008

Record Mart re-opens in the Subway N.Y.C.

A photo of the old Record Mart, showing
Harry walking on the right. Circa 1980's.

For many years one of the few places to find and buy contemporary LP's from Cuba especially during the years 1970-1989 was at a "tiny little store" that was down in the Times Square 42nd street subway station here in N.Y.C.
It was called "Record Mart"

They sold vinyl LPs all the way up until the CD format boom began.
Keep in mind that during the 70's and 80's, you couldn't find the "newer/contemporary" Cuban music as easily as you can now. Especially on vinyl LPs, unless you brought them back from a trip to Cuba. Back then, even in Miami, where the "newer/contemporary" Cuban music was regarded as "commie propaganda" by the south Florida "hard liners" and not found in many record stores.

During the "re-design" (gentrification) of the 'Times Square 42nd street' subway station the store lost their lease and had to close in 1999. However they have re-opened about a year ago in the same station, but a slightly different location.

The store still is owned by 'Jesse Moskowitz' who originally opened it in 1958 in its first location above ground not in the subway. I think his son runs it now.
The store manager/buyer has been 'Harry Sepulveda' one of the few (along with René Lopéz Sr.) people who are walking text book/historians on Cuban music, bands, Orchestras and musicians from the 1900's, '20's, '30s,'40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s. Harry Sepulveda produced a series of CDs called "Cuban Gold" in the 1990's.

People would stop by not just from all over N.Y.C., but from all over the world.
It was a real experience to stand in front of the racks of LPs and go through each one meticulously looking for Cuban as well as older Salsa "gems".
Often musicians would stop by and say to Harry, "what's new", or "anything come in?" Harry would then disappear into the tiny back stock room... then come back holding one or two Cuban LPs as if they were fragile precious golden eggs!

Myself and Harry Sepulveda. 
Winter 2007


Ivan said...

interesting story man damn quiero viajar a USA :D para conoces esa store

Matthew said...

Your blog is really in depth man! I will surely visit the record mart if I am ever back in NYC. Am still digging those Los Tainos LPs!!

Matthew said...

meant to say, thats a beautiful story...

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

How great to find out about your blog! Thanks for your visit. Stumbling onto this wonderful store was a big thrill for me in 1973.

You have a fine collection. I will highlight it on my next post.