on rocking on main street
Revolution keeps the record store tradition alive in Saratoga
a way, Brittany Nasser saved the world—or at least a very
small, specific part of it. When her boss at Last Vestige
Record Shop told her in 2009 that he would be closing the
Saratoga Springs location where she had been employed for
six years, she felt lost, abandoned, and crestfallen. “I
felt like I had been dumped. I cried,” says Nasser. But
her boss asked her, “Why don’t you open your own store?”
She quickly put her despair aside and got proactive; Saratoga’s
only record shop was not going without a fight.
She put on a fundraiser featuring loads of local and out-of-town
bands and took donations over Facebook. It seemed like a
crazy idea at the time, as record stores have been disappearing
faster than multiculturalism at a teabagger rally. But there
was more at stake for Nasser than providing musicphile writers
like myself a place to shop for T. Rex vinyl.
Nasser wanted to save a part of Saratoga that she has seen
slipping away ever since she was a kid. And thus Divinyl
Revolution was born.
Today, a disturbingly bright Monday, Nasser tends to a phone
call from a very “talkative” customer. They chat about the
record players she has in stock as tourists dressed in khaki
shorts and pastels mosey in and out of the store. They pick
over the CDs, marvel at the vinyl (sometimes debating whether
they can find their selections online), and peruse her vintage
clothing section. When she is off the phone, Nasser is filing
away CDs, making sure each album is in the correct order.
Some customers linger longer than others; their hesitance
about leaving suggests that maybe their bright polo shirts
might once have been Pixies and Clash tour shirts. They
inspect each record obsessively, looking for something very
specific. “Sometimes their significant others have to come
drag them out,” Nasser says.
As I peruse the racks I find a copy of the new Crystal Castles
album for $4. “WTF?” I think to myself, “This is too cheap!”
I buy it even though it’s on my IPod. “People don’t want
to leave their houses if they can find it for less online,
so I price it to sell,” says Nasser. “Some people don’t
like that I can’t pay a ton for their new CDs, but most
understand I have to make a profit.”
Nasser grew up in Ballston Spa, but always came to Saratoga
for something to do. “All we had in Ballston Spa was a pizza
place when I was kid,” she says. “So we would come up to
Saratoga. We were not bad kids. We would hang out in the
park until the police kicked us out. But where are the kids
Nasser says that she feels she is keeping a part of the
city’s youthful heart alive. The kids need something to
do, something to connect to, and that is what Divinyl Revolution
And a lot of businesses on the street are happy to have
her, because her store attracts a demographic that might
not otherwise be on the street. “People like that I’m here
because it gets other people to come into town,” she says.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air for the city—even though
it is a little musty in here,” she jokes. “It isn’t like
every other store in Saratoga.”
fact that we have the Gap and Eddie Bauer on Main Street
feels a little wrong,” says Nasser. “I mean, to each their
own, but what happened to mom and pop being on Main Street
and the chains being in the malls? I mean, I’m not going
to open a shop in the mall. That is what FYE is for.”
But don’t cry for Nasser. The funny thing is, as she points
out, chain stores like the Borders down the street from
her are stocking fewer and fewer CDs, and they have no vinyl.
The desire for vinyl is picking up nationally, and Nasser
is satiating the public’s wants. Through the Divinyl Revolution
Facebook page, Nasser announces what vinyl she has in—this
week the new Arcade Fire album, and a Joy Division box set—and
people respond with requests and inquiries about what is
in stock. She says she sees more of the locals in during
the fall and winter months, but has a steady group of tourists
in the summer.
Something seems to have a grip on Nasser. She is pumped
up, perhaps inspired by remembering life as a music-loving
teen on Saratoga’s streets. She walks outside into the bright
summer day. She shields her eyes. “You need youth to keep
the city growing. The city should be fun for local kids.”
She’s looking for the packs of teens that sometimes wander
the city bearing skateboards, patches on jean jackets, Mohawks,
chains and tattoos. “Let’s look outside and see if there
are any kids. She strains to see. We’ve got a veteran on
the bench. That’s it. Where are the local kids?”
Back inside, I inquire about a framed Joy Division picture
she has over her register space. “I found that in an old
copy of Rolling Stone, it was an advertisement for Closer,
and I knew I had to save it. I love Joy Division.”
A woman whose choice of dress would give absolutely no indication
that she had ever heard “Love Will Tear Us Apart” says to
her companion, “Oh, that’s from Joy Division. It was an
advertisement for their album.” Nasser smiles; she is among
A little later a man walks in with his young son. The boy
picks up an album from the jazz section. “What is he playing?”
the boy asks jubilantly. “That is a clarinet,” the man says.
“That is not a clarinet!” the boy exclaims insistently.
Across the street there are a couple of crusty punks walking
their dog. A kid with dreads sits playing guitar on the
bench where the veteran was sitting just a few minutes before;
a kid skateboards past with his headphones blaring some
absurdly distorted guitars.
you, Brittany Nasser,” I think to myself. “Thank you.”
PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga
Springs, 587-3330). Tue: Kiss, The Academy Is
. . ., the Envy.
ON THE ROOF (Rooftop patio, Tang Teaching Museum and
Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080).
Fri: Lyle Divinsky.
MAPLE AVENUE (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB).
Fri: Tim Olsen Quartet. Sat: Ted MacKenzie Quartet.
LENA (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022). Thu:
open mic. Fri: Chandler Travis Philharmonette.
(430 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-5577). Thu: Tequila
ICEHOUSE (70 Putnam St., Saratoga Springs, 261-1766).
Thu: Jocamo. Fri: Green. Sat: the Remainders.
LOCAL PUB AND TEAHOUSE (142 Grand Ave., Saratoga Springs,
587-7256). Sun: Traditional Irish Players (1 PM).
CAROLINE STREET (1 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-2026).
Thu: Skidmore Jazz. Mon: Chris Carey. Tue:
jazz piano. Wed: Masters of Nostalgia.
DEN (63A Putnam St., Saratoga Springs,
584-8066). Thu: reggae dance party. Fri: Rustic Overtones.
Sat: Peter Prince and Moon Boot Lover. Sun: Half
Step. Wed: Vinnie Amico and friends.
Comedy Works Saratoga, 12 Ballston Ave., Saratoga Springs.
8/6-7, 7 PM. Eddie Clark with Mike Speirs.
Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga
Springs. 8/12, 8 PM: Philadelphia Orchestra’s farewell to
maestro Charles Dutoit concert. Violinist Chantal Juillet
will be featured on Korngold’s violin concerto. Also works
by Respighi, Shostakovich, Debussy. $18-$72.50. 8/13, 8
PM: Philadelphia Orchestra perform with jugglers and contortionists
in Cirque de la Symphonie. $23-$77.50. 8/14, 8 PM: Pianist
André Watts joins the PO for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto
No. 5, plus works by Barber, Tchaikovsky. $18-$72.50.
8/18, 8 PM: Violinist Sarah Chang joins the PO on Shostakovich’s
Violin Concerto No. 1, plus works by Mozart, Brahms.
Little Theater, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga
Springs. 8/15, 2:15 PM: Pianist André Watts will be featured
solo, and with Sophia Shao (cello) and Ricardo Moreno (clarinet).
Works by Liszt, Chopin, Schubert, Brahms. $36.50, $41.50.
8/17, 8 PM: The Ebène Quartet. Works by Mozart, Beethoven,
Bartók. $36.50, $41.50. 587-3330.
Feast Gallery, 142 Grand Ave., Saratoga Springs. (718)
344-6310. Adirondack View. Through 8/31.
of Creative Soul, 38 Van Dam St., Saratoga Springs.
226-0010. 1st Anniversary Show. Through 10/2.
Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, 99 S. Broadway, Saratoga
Springs. 584-2225. Postage Paid : Dance Around the World.
Also, In a Labyrinth: The Dance of Butoh. Also, Ballet
Russes Centennial Exhibit. Also, The C.V. Whitney
Hall of Fame. Plus, the children’s wing. Through Fall
Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave., Saratoga
Springs. 584-0400. Treasures of the Vault: 60 Years and
Growing. Through 8/31. Hall of Fame Heroes. Ongoing.
York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs.
581-5100. Picturing Battle: Memories of War, Art of Thurlstrup,
U.S. Army Signal Corps and Steve Jordan. Ongoing. Also,
Dewitt Clinton Falls: Uniform of the New York National
Automobile Museum, 110 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga
Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs. 587-1935 ext. 20. New
York racing exhibit. Ongoing.
County Arts Council, Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Saratoga Inside Out: A Juried
Exhibition. Through 9/25.
Street Gallery, 110 Spring St., Saratoga Springs. 587-6433.
David Arsenault: In the Mood. Through 8/31.
Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 N.
Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Opener 20 Paula
Hayes: Understory. Through 4/1/11. Also, Suzanne
Bocenegra: I Write the Songs. Through 2/2/11. Also,
Opener 19: Los Carpinteros. Through 8/31. Also, For
You. Through 8/22.
Polo, Whitney Field, Saratoga Springs. 8/13-15: The
Ylvisaker Cup. 584-8108 or saratogapolo.com.
2010 Saratoga meet runs through Sept. 6. The track is dark
Location: Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs, 584-6200.
Admission: $3 Grandstand ($5 Travers Day), $5 Clubhouse
($10 Travers Day).
First Race Post Time: 1 PM daily except Aug. 28 at 11:35
AM, Sept. 3 at 2:30 PM.
Major Stakes Races include: The Alabama (Aug. 21), The Travers
Lou Whitney in the winner's circle after awarding the trophy
for the winner of the Whitney Stakes at the Saratoga Race
Course, Aug. 7.