Record Store Trash American Style marks a quarter century of fierce independence

DanburyHuman InterestArts and CultureWaterburyThurston MooreSears

Trash American Style's 25th Anniversary

Nov. 25-27, Heirloom Arts Theatre, 155 Main St., Danbury, trashamericanstyle.us. Pop-up record store, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. With Elisa Flynn, Invaders from Sears, Leadfoot, Litmus, Burnkit 2600, Al Pist, the Deacons, Kid Ginseng, Kathy, Peebo Carmichael (Fri.), Malcolm Tent (Fri. & Sat.), Nasty Disaster, the Field Recordings, Sonic Supercharger 66, They Hate Us, Witch Doctor, the Midnightmares, Tommy Perkins (Sat.).

 

This Friday, the regional countercultural institution Trash American Style celebrates its 25th anniversary in its adopted home of Danbury. Trash is a record store, except that it hasn't had an address since an unsustainable new lease pushed it out of its old storefront in 2007. It's a vintage clothing shop, too. But most importantly, it's an archive of underground culture, its artifacts and its memory alike. Malcolm Tent, who runs Trash with Kathy Kelly, is a punk lifer and a gifted raconteur who drives crates of his inventory to record fairs, college campuses and rock shows while he's not playing his own music (mainly with noise-punk band Ultrabunny and as a solo "aggressive acoustic" performer), recording bands' live sets, or DJing his anarchically eclectic WNHU-FM program "Mr. Tent's Wild Ride." And as the public mouthpiece of Trash, he's played a substantial role as one of the pillars of Connecticut's underground for about as long as he's been in the state.

Kathy (she typically goes by only her first name) is a Connecticut native, but Tent grew up around Miami, Fla., where the two of them met. "We both hated south Florida, so we bonded over that," he explains in a recent phone conversation. They also hated their retail jobs and hatched a plan to leave Florida and start their own business. "We scoped out Atlanta. We found Atlanta already was a cool town. Atlanta didn't need our help," he says, "but Kathy said Connecticut did." They made their way to Waterbury, where they set up shop. But Waterbury already had a couple of respected independent record stores — Phoenix Records and Brass City Records, whose owner, Walter Quadrato, "said, 'You should go somewhere where there's nothing happening. So we said, 'Hey, Danbury!'"

Trash opened a Brookfield storefront on "Nov. 29, 1986, a date that was rife with just really dumb luck," Tent explains. First, they'd opened, "completely unknowingly," on Black Friday, and were "deluged with customers." And that night, the epochal hardcore band 7 Seconds played at the Norwalk club The Anthrax. "That was one of those watershed gigs where everyone who was there started a band," Tent recalls, and after heading to the show and promoting the store, "all the straightedge kids, all the hardcore kids came to us. We got to be present for the whole process."

There were other fortuitous early events. Tent recalls a "tall hillbilly guy" popping into the store, who turned out to be Thurston Moore, who had partly grown up near Danbury. Shortly thereafter, at a Sonic Youth show, says Tent, Moore started riffing mid-set on the store's name.

Another Danbury cultural institution, the Heirloom Arts Theatre, hosts the Trash 25th event. "J-La [Heirloom owner Jay LaPierre] used to work for me, and I like to think I raised him right," Tent says. And the Heirloom is giving Trash three days and two nights, where they'll open a pop-up store during the day and host a total of 17 bands (punk, metal, indie rock, avant-rock and beyond) and two stand-up comics on Friday and Saturday night. And then Trash will continue in its shape-shifting, mobile and unstoppable form. "I cannot even remember the definition of boredom," Tent muses.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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