Gatefold Record Lounge – a Creativity Hub in Hertfordshire

 In Features

Nikki and Jak Utley set up the Gatefold Record Lounge after moving to Hitchin in 2015.  In addition to selling vinyl records, their goal was to establish the shop as meeting place for those interested in music or the arts in general. To facilitate this objective, they serve great coffee, craft beers and wine. They also host live acts with singer-songwriter artists and jazz combos.  In addition, they hold regular musical theme days in which popular musical genres are featured and the vinyl is spun by highly knowledgeable guest DJs. The atmosphere is warm and friendly and is sometimes fed, quite literally, by the presence of popup street food vendors (the guys selling burritos are particular popular!).  Now, nearly 18 months after its inception, Gatefold has established itself as a creative hub in the town and Jak is gratified by artistic collaborations that have started as a result of chance meetings in the shop.

With all these activities going on, it is sometimes possible to forget what the store’s core business is about. As a source for vinyl LP records it is simply outstanding. Nikki and Jak have curated an amazing collection of records from all types of popular music. From this reviewer’s perspective the jazz selection has been extraordinary: on every visit I manage to discover a rare or unusual pressing by the likes of John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, Eric Dolphy or Roland Kirk.  For those of a certain age, Gatefold re-awakens the long forgotten joy of browsing through racks of vinyl albums with their attendant cover designs and sleeve notes -arts that were diminished with the advent of CDs and lost altogether with digital downloads.  To the uninitiated, it’s a lovely experience but for those who can’t physically make it to the Lounge, an online service is offered.  Oh, and I should mention that the shop stocks several lines of turntables with all the ancillary equipment such as cartridges, styluses and record pampering paraphernalia.

Overall Nikki and Jak have created something very special. Gatefold is quite the nicest record shop I can remember (even from my youth) and I’ve been to quite a few in my time. If you are in the area do drop in, buy a coffee, browse the records and hang out. You won’t be disappointed.

Gatefold Record Lounge
65 Hermitage Road
+44 (0)1462 43300

Photo by Peter Goadby-Watt

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