Get Hip Records is a place you can go to now.
Gregg Kostelich, lead guitarist of Pittsburgh garage rock legends, The Cynics, opened Get Hip Recordings in 1986 to distribute his own LPs and down-and-dirty offerings from like-minded labelmates, becoming an influential purveyor and promoter of all things rock and roll.
Over the years, Gregg and his wife, Get Hip VP Barbara Garcia-Bernardo, have accumulated millions of records and 45s, most of which occupy the upper levels of their longtime warehouse home in a business park in Chateau, around the corner from Bicycle Heaven and the Johnny Angel museum.
“I’ve watched a lot of friends pass away recently,” says Kostelich. “I’ve been accumulating records my whole life and I can’t take them to the graveyard, so why not start a record store?”
“What else am I supposed to do, fire sale it? Call Amoeba [Music] in Berkeley and see if they want it?”
Get Hip Records celebrated its grand opening this past Saturday with a free live performance from Morgan Erina and Get Hip signees Bipolaroid, a psychedelic garage rock trio from New Orleans.
For now, Get Hip offers thousands of albums and CDs to thumb through, all of them new and all in the Get Hip wheelhouse of psych rock, rockabilly and retro rock ‘n’ roll.
The offering will greatly expand in the coming weeks: Kostelich is just now starting the process of mining through a huge collection of metal albums he purchased from Hits and Misses Records, which just shuttered their two locations in Toronto and Vancouver. After that, his next task is to dig through his own personal vault and start to mark the duplicates for sale.
“We’re gonna have every style of music,” he says. “I’m not turning my back on jazz or blues. If I have a good enough polka collection, I’ll have that for sale too.”
“We will have the best local section in Pittsburgh,” he adds.
Kostelich says he’s been hoarding his record collection for decades but never considered opening a record store simply because there wasn’t time: when The Cynics would return from tour, they’d have to work twice as hard on Get Hip’s mail order business just to keep the lights on.
The store will be managed by Geoff Leamon, former owner of Left of the Dial Records in Santa Ana, CA. Leamon moved to Pittsburgh a few months ago when his wife accepted a job in town. This was right around the same time Kostelich realized that if he was ever going to tour with The Cynics again, he’d need someone else to take the reins of the store. (Kostelich says a new tour is a possibility, but only if the band comes up with some new songs: “I don’t want to just roast chestnuts,” he says.)
Zack Keim, lead singer of Get Hip band, Nox Boys, and a singer-songwiter on Get Hip’s folk imprint, will help to man the counter.
Kostelich hopes that the record store is the first step into a larger community presence for Get Hip. He mentions collaboration with Deutschtown Music Festival as one logical option, and says Garcia-Bernardo wants to offer bi-weekly yoga classes in the space as well. He also hopes they can throw regular concerts in a third-floor performance space on Friday and Saturday nights.
“We love having parties and we love having fun,” says Kostelich. “I just wanna have fucking fun until I die.”
Get Hip Records is located at 1800 Columbus Ave in the Northside. Hours still aren’t set yet; best to check Facebook for now.