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Historic record store finds a new home in Rio Rancho

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A historic Albuquerque record store has found new life in the City of Vision, as Cristy Records celebrated its new home in Rio Rancho recently.

Cristy Records, at 1670-A N.M. 528, celebrated its reopening Nov. 17 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The record store, owned and operated by lawyer and musician Michael Sanchez, features CDs, vinyl records and cassette tapes from local and international musicians.

“What we’re doing here is trying to promote New Mexico musicians,” Sanchez said. “We encourage people to come in and look around, have themselves a Coca-Cola and just look at all the bands.”

Sanchez’s interest in music and Cristy Records dates back to the early years of the record shop, when it was first owned by musician Eric Perez in the late 1950s. Sanchez, a touring musician who began playing with Rudy and the Soulsetters at the age of 15, was one of a number of New Mexico artists Cristy Records would try to showcase.

Continues tradition

Sanchez said he was happy to continue the store’s tradition, opening its doors to albums from contemporary and older local acts.

As well as selling records, Cristy Records features museum-like exhibits of rock and roll history.

A framed, signed Ritchie Valens lyric sheet and signed Buddy Holly record greet customers at the front of the store.

Signed photos of local musicians, artists who received either local or national attention, line the store’s walls; a photo of Randy Castillo, the late Albuquerque drummer who performed for Ozzy Osbourne and Mötley Crüe in the ’80s and ’90s, hangs across from a photo of Billboard-charting Raton-based group Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs.

The record store also features signed photos and memorabilia from the New Mexico Music Hall of Fame – an organization Sanchez has been the head of since 2003.

This year’s inductees include Sunny West, who wrote “Oh, Boy!” and “Rave On” for Buddy Holly, and music producer Dick Stewart.

Need cultural events

“We wanted to (open) here in Rio Rancho because we need some cultural events here in Rio Rancho, we need a museum, we need people to come here and say ‘Rio Rancho isn’t just a bunch of stores and a way to pass through on their way from Albuquerque to Bernalillo or Santa Fe,'” Sanchez said.

Sanchez’s music career has often mirrored those musicians Cristy Records has displayed.

In 1969, Sanchez sat beside Al Hurricane as the two traveled to play a show in Denver when their car hit a patch of black ice – their car rolled over and the two flew outside the vehicle. Although Sanchez walked away with a few minor injuries, the accident left Hurricane without his right eye.

In the years following, Sanchez hopped across bands before leading Mike Sanchez and the Wild Bunch. Sanchez’s work playing Spanish music later got the attention of Hollywood – he eventually wrote songs for 2006’s “Bordertown” and 2007’s “No Country for Old Men.”

Angela Apodaca, an assistant at the store, said she was happy to see Cristy Records reopen.

“A lot of New Mexicans know of Cristy Records from way back when, so it’s sort of a legacy, a tradition,” she said. “They’ll see us and say, ‘Oh, Cristy Records is back,’ and they know exactly what they’ll come in and find.”