If you are a heavy metal & hard rock fan here in the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York, there's been one thing you can always count on over the last few decades, and that's Rock Fantasy, a music shop opened up by Steve Keeler way back in 1985 that is still going strong today. Offering up CDs, DVDs, t-shirts, patches, LPs, posters, smoke shop items, DVDs, and various other rock memorabilia, Rock Fantasy has been the one-stop shop for many metal fans for close to 30 years. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo recently caught up with his longtime friend Steve Keeler to talk about the upcoming Re-Opening date, pinball, metal concerts in the area, and much more!
SoT: We are here with Steve Keeler, owner of Rock Fantasy in Middletown, NY. Steve, you have obviously been in business for many, many years-what is the anniversary of the store here in 2013?
Steve: It will be 28 years this November .
SoT: You've got a grand re-opening going on this coming weekend (4/20-21)-tell us a little bit about what's going on this weekend and what your customers can look forward to?
Steve: This weekend it kicks off on Friday night with the Paganfest tour up in Poughkeepsie, NY at The Chance, which we are helping promote. It features Ensiferum, TYR, and several other bands, and Saturday we are going to open up the store for our grand Re-Opening, as we've just added a pinball room with about 25 pinball machines and posters, neon signs, tapestries, and more in the heavy metal & classic rock genres. We also run pinball tournaments, but on Saturday we are also having glass blowing demonstrations from some of the glass blowing artists from our smoke shop, as well as live music going on also.
SoT: Who will be playing at the store this weekend?
Steve: A couple of my customers will be playing, Anthony Menella, Greg Woods with his band on Sunday, Alex Kates, who is a guitarist from San Francisco that has played all around the country, but now out of Buffalo will be here…he's also a glass blower from GlassX, and will be here Saturday and Sunday playing guitar and glass blowing. We'll also be doing giveaways of course, but we really just want everyone to come out and check out the new layout of the shop this weekend and see our bigger smoke shop, our new record racks (it will be record store day), pinball, and all the other stuff we have.
SoT: Little bit of everything…
Steve: Yeah, little bit of everything going on.
SoT: Let's backtrack…you mentioned about the show at The Chance-you've been helping out promoting a heavy metal concert series in the area over the last few months to help get some live music back into the Hudson Valley. Can you tell us a little bit about this?
Steve: Yeah we have. Cal from Tainted Entertainment, a young kid who is doing this all by himself somehow, is bringing in a lot of shows that we have been working with him on. We had the Marduk show back in February, he organized the Hudson Valley Death Fest with Cannibal Corpse back in November, but we are just helping him out plus it's a good way of promoting the store and getting our name out there. Just last week we had U.D.O. at The Chance which was a killer show, we've got the Paganfest coming up this week on the 19th, and then there is Goatwhore, 3 Inches of Blood, Revocation, and Ramming Speed at the Sound Asylum here in Middletown on May 1st. Goatwhore will also be here in the store with a few of the other bands on that bill that afternoon, so we'll be doing a pizza party & pinball event that day before the show, between 5-6 just prior to the show, which is right down the street from here. The next day there is the Soilwork show at The Chance on May 2nd, and we are also working on another show at the Sound Asylum with hopefully Krisiun on May 31st, but that is not confirmed as of yet.
SoT: So you've been here 28 years now-what do you contribute to your longevity in a market where music shops have closed left and right in recent years?
Steve: We've adapted over the years from selling CDs and records mostly, and obviously if that's all we did now we'd be out of business, to making our smoke shop bigger as the music business started to take a turn. Our smoke shop now takes up about half our store, but even with that we have plenty of competition in the area. I like to give it a unique atmosphere though, so when you come in here you get the whole 'rock & roll atmosphere', lots of loud music, black light posters, memorabilia, etc., so it's a bit different than what everyone else is offering, and I like to keep that whole vibe going.
SoT: And you have the pinball, the Cd's, the DVD's, the shirts, the records, and everything else…
Steve: Oh yeah, and with the pinball we do promotions too, especially with Stern Pinball, who we do launch parties and tournaments with. So as far as my longevity goes, I just try to be creative and also be a little bit of a showman when I can, keeping the black metal, the death metal, the thrash, and all the genres of metal & hard rock alive here in the Hudson Valley as best I can.
Rock Fantasy Website
Rock Fantasty Facebook Page