Music and beer have been an inseparable duo since, well, the invention of music and beer. According to the website www.growlermag.com, the ancient Sumerians sang a hymn — that also included a beer recipe — to Ninkasi, their goddess of brewing, perhaps 5,000 years ago.
In the Middle Ages, Trappist monks made their ales to the rhythms of their chanting. The earliest drinking songs were beer-drinking songs, which you can still sing today in the pubs and beer halls of England, Ireland, Germany, Japan, and many other beer-loving countries. The Blues Brothers’ “Hey Bartender” is just one of Ninkasi-only-knows-how-many beer-inspired tunes crafted in the US.
Given that happy provenance, it’s a wonder that no one thought to combine music and beer as a business venture before John Kihlmire. As the owner of MSV Entertainment, a Wappingers Falls-based DJ and entertainment company, he plays music at weddings, bar mitzvahs and all manner of parties (including, full disclosure, this magazine’s annual Burger Bash and Best of the Hudson Valley events). He has been collecting recordings since his teens — he’s now 39 — and has an abiding love for the warmer, deeper sound that comes from vinyl records. “Digital has its purposes, but there is nothing like putting a needle to a record,” he says.
After annual 30-day trips out west, which included numerous purchases from vintage record shops in California, Texas, Tennessee, New Orleans, and Colorado, Kihlmire (a self-described “craft brew guy”) thought about what he could do with his massive collection. Then, some commercial space opened up across the street from MSV. “I thought, you know what, I’m gonna open a record shop and include beer. Any vinyl collector wants a nice beer when you get [a record] home.”
Thus was born the Vinyl Room: half record store, half bar, all good times. The beer is mostly local. “I don’t brew my own, so I try to focus on Hudson Valley beers, but will also do some out of state,” he says. As of September, he was negotiating with distributors to carry beers from North River, Industrial Arts, Chatham, Bell’s, Glenmere, and Single Cut breweries, with more on his wish list. He will also sell local wines and ciders in a bar featuring reclaimed mill wood, album covers and music poster art on the walls, and retro-style arcade games.
The music, however, is universal. With about 8,000 LPs in-house, patrons will be able to listen to a record through headphones at a listening station or ask the bartender to play a track for all to hear. “My concept is to carry only original pressings, no re-issues,” he says. “There is a $500 Dale Hawkins album sitting on our shelf right now” — the rarest in his collection. Rock, jazz, soul, R&B, it’s all available for purchase or just to enjoy with a cold one.
The Vinyl Room features live music nights, with acoustic Fridays and jazz on Saturdays. Kihlmire plans theme nights as well, from Soul Sundays with a DJ who specializes in Motown to ’80s Night with sounds of Hall and Oates and Phil Collins in the air (and a turn on Ms. Pac-Man). “I want people to know each night will be a different vibe for the music,” he says. “If you’re not a fan of the Beatles, the following night will have what you are listening to.”
With vinyl in the midst of a comeback, and craft beer thriving, the timing seems right for the Vinyl Room. “This is a unique place,” Kihlmire says. “There are a couple record shops [in the area], but this is a different vibe.” Next spring he hopes to add outdoor seating, and may get into serving coffees and teas as well. “The future will be fantastic,” he gushes.
The Vinyl Room
Closed Mon and Tues.
Open 3–11 p.m. Wed-Thurs; 3 p.m.–12 a.m. Fri; noon–12 a.m. Sat; noon–9 p.m. Sun.
2656 East Main St, Wappingers Falls; 845.297.3344; www.tvrny.com