Inside the Unlikely New Record Shop That sells to the Stars

The Greenwich Village record store,

owned by a one-of-a-kind NYC character,

stocks the shelves of Lana Del Rey,

Rosalía, Bella Hadid, and more.

By Sim Tumay

February 15, 2023

When a 20-year-old Jamal Alnasr moved to New York City in 1990, he barely

spoke English and only knew the names of 10 artists, like Madonna and

Boney M, whom he’d heard on the radio. A native Palestinian, he arrived in

the city after a few years spent living in Jordan as a teenager. He used music

to teach himself English, then landed his first job at a record shop on

Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, where he read CD pamphlets, learned

lyrics, and researched artists’ influences. After four and a half years, he

opened up his own shop, Village Music, down the street, with the money he

had saved from working.

On opening day, Alnasr decided to put his collection of rare records up for

sale, and made $5,000. “If people came in and meant to spend $20, they

would spend $200,” he recalls. “I had a lot of rare stuff.” Word eventually got

out that he was the man to see if you were looking for an impossible-to-find

record. Upon receiving a request, Alnasr would raise his eyebrows and tell

people to come back in four days, when he would undoubtedly have the

record packaged up and waiting in the back room.

Even with this personal touch, Village Records eventually met the same sad

fate as so many downtown music stores. In 2017, Alnasr could no longer

afford his rent—which he says went up from about $160 in the ’90s to $5,000

—and shuttered the shop. “I was broke as hell,” he admits. He went back to

Palestine and sold some real estate his father had owned. When he returned

to New York, he met a sympathetic landlord and opened Village Revival

Records next door to his old shop. “I want to revive the Village because I’m

really scared of change,” he says of the store’s new moniker. “I want to

rebuild the ’90s.”

Over the last few years, the humble shop has become an unlikely magnet for

stars such as Rosalía and Lana Del Rey, who are devoted customers. Bella

Hadid didn’t have a record collection before she met Alnasr at Village

Revival. An unlikely friendship soon formed between the 53-year-old store

owner and the 26-year-old supermodel, who bonded over their shared

Palestinian heritage and love for music. Hadid was interested to learn more

about Alnasr’s journey to America, he says, and soon brought her mother,

father, and sister Gigi to the shop. One night, Alnasr went to dinner with

Hadid and her boyfriend at the nearby Minetta Tavern, where he gave the

couple a turntable. “Now you guys are going to party tonight,” he told them.

Last year, Hadid posted a series of photos of Alnasr and the shop on her

Instagram: shots of the two embracing, browsing the stacks, and eating

dinner together, as well as images of albums by the Rolling Stones, the

Animals, and one called Palestine Lives! Songs From the Struggle of the

People of Palestine. “Please go visit my friend Jamal,” she wrote in the

caption, accompanied by heart and Palestinian flag emojis. “All welcome,

records for everyone!!!!”

In the early days of her career, Lana Del Rey lived in Greenwich Village. She

was a regular at Village Records, where she purchased albums by Billie

Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nina Simone. “She was a very shy person in the

beginning but she is very down to earth once she feels comfortable with

you,” says Alnasr. Near the shop’s backroom, Alnasr keeps a locked glass

cabinet of autographed records. To the left of Bruce Springsteen and Bob

Dylan sits a vinyl of Lana’s 2012 debut, Born to Die, signed “To Village Music

and Jamal, lots of love.”

Alnasr’s lack of filter and stubborn sensibility give Village Revival a gritty,

old-school New York charm. The week of his birthday, Alnasr was blasting

“Disco Inferno” in the shop, coming off a high from going to a nightclub for

the first time in several years. His is perhaps the only record store left in

Manhattan where you are likely to find the owner smoking a cigarette

behind the counter.

Alnasr has a habit of turning patrons into friends. A question about a

particular Rolling Stones album might lead unexpectedly to an hour-long

conversation about the influence of American blues musicians on the

British band’s work. From there, Alnasr may pull out some records from the

backroom, where he keeps his most prized and unusual finds. Soon enough,

a customer might find themselves, like Hadid, having dinner with him.

Dave Davis, the trombonist of the Sun Ra Arkestra, began his friendship

with Alnasr two years ago, over a conversation about rare big-band jazz

records. Alnasr, who used to see the Arkestra play in his early days as a New

Yorker, immediately connected with Davis, a Philadelphian who stops by

the store whenever he visits the city. Davis collects 78 RPM records, a format

developed in the late 19th century that was commercially obsolete by the

1950s, still highly prized by some collectors but not stocked in many shops.

“He is the only one I’ve found in New York who still believes in those,” Davis

says of Alnasr. “I travel a lot, and when you go record shopping, you can

pretty much conquer a record store, and it stays the same,” Davis continues.

“But the one thing about his record store is that it doesn’t stay the same. He

is constantly getting new records.”

Davis and other artists also value Village Revival as a place to meet and

network with fellow musicians and industry professionals. Chris Pizzolo,

founder of the boutique label Immediate Family Records, once walked into

the original store after playing guitar at a blues jam at the Bitter End down

the street. He walked out with a copy of Alabama Shakes’ Boys and Girls and

a new friendship with Alnasr, who’d been playing the album over the

soundsystem. Alnasr soon invited Pizzolo and his band to perform in the

store, which eventually became a regular gig. Pizzolo often came to Alnasr

for guidance, especially after he decided to start his own label. The record

store owner’s advice: print more vinyl.

Immediate Family Records was recently nominated for its first Latin

Grammy: a Best Contemporary Tropical Album nod for the Pedrito Martinez

Group’s 2021 release Acertijos. “It’s cool because I started going there in my

early 20s, and now I’m in my mid-30s, and he still stays there and gives

everyone the same opportunity,” Pizzolo says.

Pizzolo introduced his peers to Alnasr and Village Revival, including singersongwriters

Cody Simpson, whom Pizzolo manages, and Sizzy Rocket,

whose album Anarchy Pizzolo helped to release. “Jamal’s shop is truly a


a-kind experience,” says Simpson. “It’s a treasure trove for music lovers.”

Rocket first met Alnasr in 2021, when Village Revival hosted a meet-andgreet

for her fans before a performance nearby. “It was just the perfect spot,

because the store is small and intimate,” Rocket says. “I walked in, and he

already had my music playing and the videos going. It was just very


If any customer, celebrity or otherwise, goes into Village Revival looking for

a particular record, Alnasr will do his best to find it for them. He sources

many records from personal collections he purchases, sometimes from

other industry professionals who have died or moved away. He recalls a

customer who had worked in music journalism who once called him about

selling him a prized rare find: an early pressing of The Velvet Underground &

Nico. “I don’t find them, they find me,” he says.

“There are probably 200,000 records in that store, but the craziest thing is

that he knows where everything is,” Pizzolo says. “You could ask for a rare

Édith Piaf bootleg from the ’60s that someone made in France, and he’s got

it cataloged somewhere.”

A 74-year-old customer and lifelong resident of the neighborhood named

John Deglialberti fondly recalls an instance when Alnasr helped him find a

copy of the 1962 album Sinatra and Strings, which Deglialberti was having

trouble locating elsewhere. “When I hear these songs, it brings back a lot of

memories,” he says. “Not only for myself, but also for friends of mine.”

Alnasr’s shop has evolved over the years, but he remains committed

to his

mission to revive the bohemian spirit of Greenwich Village’s past. “I will not

change what I do,” he says. “It’s my love.”

Published by Record Industry Spain (Fabrica De Vinilos)

Somos los agentes oficiales en España, Portugal e Italia de Record Industry B.V Holanda. En este Blog encontrarás diferentes ideas de proyectos y nuevos artículos. Esta web será un perfecto complemento para ayudarte con la fabricación de tu vinilo. Si quieres hablar sobre tú proyecto y necesitas ayuda para llevarlo a cabo, por favor contacta con nosotros. Fabricación de vinilos (vinyl) de 7 , 10 y 12 pulgandas (140 y 180 gramos).

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