Caveman Randy is now on the verge of Rock Hightstown, NJ

Hightstown is a city with a rich history. There are names on the buildings and streets that still have descendants living here. John and Mary Height will be proud of how their small community has grown. So, it’s not really surprising that a company that is all about preserving a time in history, like catching lightning in a bottle, finds old Victorians lining the streets of the city center near an ideal location.

man caveLtd., now located at 119 Ward Street in Hightstown, New Jersey, is the brainchild of Randy Ellis. Ellis is a fourth generation Bordentown resident. His biography is eclectic. Former post carrier, DJ, club promoter and band manager before adding the title of store owner in 2012 in his hometown of Bordentown. And like his autobiography, the stories Randy has from each chapter are equally interesting.

please master mail

Randy was a mail carrier from the 1970s to the 1990s. He started his way in family friendly downtown Cranberry and then moved on to Clearbrook Road – mostly retirees. He can tell you about the day A man walked on two crocodiles in the main street In Cranberry, or perhaps you’d rather hear about all the mail the lady who was the head of the Engelbart Hemberdink fan club had to send back in the days before the internet.

It very much seems that Randy enjoyed every moment of his daily routine as he interacted with the residents wherever he was. The only negative comment he made about his courier days was that he wasn’t allowed to go to Heat Wave Party at Mossport Park in Toronto In 1980, it was described as “Punk Rock’s Woodstock.” She told Randy that as one of the 50,000 people who attended – he really missed a great show.

Trenton, New Jersey Rocks

Randy may have missed the show at Mosport, but a whole world of music had a front seat. During his tenure as promoter and booking agent for city ​​parks During the ’80s and ’90s, he was able to introduce Central Jersey to a wide range of punk rock, rockabilly, and new wave music as the sound on our radios began to shift to new songs.

The Ramones, Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction, REM, and Red Hot Chili Peppers were all teams that played Calhoun Street Club in Trenton, New Jersey. Sinead O’Connor played her first American show at City Gardens. If a band is booked into Philadelphia and New York – there’s a good chance Randy will attract them to Trenton during this time period.

Man cave set ready for photography by Sue Vager

tell stories

Randy has stories! Oh, the stories he could tell! But for being Randy, he’s also wise about what he shares. When I asked him which squad were the biggest goofs, he didn’t hesitate. Motorhead is booked and tickets sold out. The crowd was eagerly waiting for them to take the stage. But Motorhead refused to continue and never performed.

what happened? In 1973, the drinking age was lowered to 18; In 1980, it was raised again to 21. City Gardens attempted to hold “dry shows” so that music-loving children under the age of 21 could attend the club. This means no alcohol on stage either. Motorhead refused to continue and Randy narrowly avoided the riot. I believe Jon Stewart (Yes, that Jon Stewart) was working at the non-alcoholic bar that night.

burn the house

When REM played City Gardens, all they asked for their contestant was six cans of beer and four clean towels. Note the new system that Trenton It reminded them a lot of Manchester, England. The Buthole Surfers almost burned the place down with their fireworks at their all-ages show. The first time I played UB40 with City Gardens, the crowd was 40 fans. Randy says Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedy is one of the nicest people he knows.

I actually managed to find out which band he thought was too overrated – Pearl Jam; The most underrated band, in his opinion, is Sparks. If you want to dive deep into the punk music scene in city ​​parks You really need to read,”No peace dance, no theatrical diving, no nails” Written by Amy Yates, Wolfing and Stephen Delodovico. There is also a movie depicting this era,”riots on the dance floor He is in his third suppression.

City parks.

City Gardens in Trenton, NJ via Flickr

bright happy people

As someone fortunate enough to be of an age when City Gardens was a part of my upbringing, I can understand why Randy hesitated and looked him in the eye when I asked him for his observations regarding City Gardens; Time, place, music, even when we were living it you knew it was special and couldn’t last forever. It was immediately noticed. Walk into the club any night and find a punk rock mohawk kid, a rockabilly kid, a hippie kid, and everyone just got together. There was time, space, and tolerance because we all loved music.

It was not like anywhere else in New Jersey at the time.

The times that are changing’

Randy started his music career in 1979 as DJ Randy now doing 90 Cent’s Dance Nights at City Gardens. By the time he left in 1996, the club had over 4,000 shows booked, and some of the current and future notable names in alternative rock had emerged through the doors of City Gardens. After City Gardens, Randy worked for the Cherry Hill Emerald City Club for some time. He worked for the Bordentown Record Collector, delivered newspapers, and had some health issues.

When Randy Met Marie

In 1982, young Mary Lange attended her only show in City Gardens. She went to see Lynne Lovech with her photographer boyfriend. The music was too loud, so Mary went to sit in the back where it was less noisy. I talked to Randy for two hours as he tried to pick her up. Mary returned to her teaching job in Monmouth County and proceeded to live her life favoring the Fast Lane scene and E-Street Band.

Randy Ellis

Randy and Mary Ellis Photography by Sue Fager

Fast-forward 20 years to newly divorced Mary, recently single Randy, and Match.com wonders. Unbeknownst to the pair, they had a previous encounter that finally came to light after Randy saw all of the Mary’s Beatles posters in the background and the conversation turned into a mutual love of music. They married in 2012 and are currently living happily ever after.

To the cave man!

It was their family union that gave birth to Randy’s Man Cave Shop. Mary’s house was in the Victorian style and the Randy Bobblehead group could not find the right location. Then he had an epiphany to take his collection and some other memorabilia and open a shop to share his love of music and things associated with it. The store will fulfill his dream of bringing in bands, selling records, snacks and memorabilia from the golden age of punk, and it will be a way to earn a living as well.

man cave

Blank man cave shot by Sue Vager

moving forward

The Caveman It opened in downtown Bordentown, NJ in 2012, and for a long time, Randy has been able to achieve creative feat in running his store. After 10 years, Randy is ready for the next chapter; He simply exceeded his Bordentown area. His new store in Hightstown has tons of free parking and more than twice the square footage. Space is what Randy is excited about; Space to display those cool vinyl records of course, but also more space for customers to move around in the store and interact with the merchandise.

The location is really key here. There’s a little triangle in town with a great handicraft shop, a lovely refurbishment shop, a cozy luncheon and a local brewery that has started hosting live music some nights now. There is an energy in this part of town that seems well suited to the unusual elements and music.

make plans

I asked Randy what his plans are for the new location. He made a lot of room for vinyl records because if you didn’t know, vinyl is back! In 2021, sales of record vinyl alone increased by 61 percent and revenue is now 1 billion. This does not include CDs, which will also be in the store. Store days record big. Two or three times a year, manufacturers release about 600 new releases and restrictions only for stores that participate in Record Store Day. The next date is set for June 18, so you may want to queue before the store opens.

New Jersey record store

Inside a man’s cave in Hightstown, New Jersey photographed by Sue Fager

Randy is also excited to bring back live music. Although nothing is currently booked, his connections are still going strong and I suspect we’ll see some famous talent in Hightstown soon. I’ve heard Marshall Crenshaw’s name fluctuate, and I’ve even made a request or two of me.

What will the neighbors say?

As a citizen, this move is definitely personal. I wanted to get a feel for the neighbors feeling, so I asked a couple of nearby stores for feedback. Mark Fenton Hand Made Art Studios To put it better, “The backbone of any small business is communications. The Man Cave will bring a diverse group of people to the city which is the lifeblood of a thriving downtown. The business community in Heightstown is sure to expand and looks like the dawn of a new era. The Man Cave will be A great addition to our local business community.”

New Jersey Art Studio

Handmade Art Studios l Photography by Sue Fajgier

Lee Stolts Old Heights Brewing Company He also sees the synergies between these neighboring institutions. He told me, “In addition to great beer, Old Hights enjoys sharing great music with our customers. In fact, our team includes musicians and music teachers so we’re excited to have Randy Now’s Man Cave nearby. It will undoubtedly attract first-time folks to Hightstown who hope to walk by.” A few steps in to enjoy our beer. As we head into our second anniversary in June, we know our customers will enjoy visiting Man Cave. We wish him all the best and welcome him to our growing and creative corner of West Ward Street in Hightstown.”

New Jersey brewery

The Old Hights Brewing Company in Hightstown, NJ l Photography by Sue Fajgier

There’s more in store – Grand Opening of Man’s Cave

The store opened on the first weekend of June. The grand opening took place on June 11th and Randy reported that this was his second best sales day ever! In addition to all the excitement of the new store opening, Ellis has a lot going on. Mary has written a children’s book that will come out in time for Christmas. It’s called, “Fritz Lang: A Fairy Tale of City Parks.” It is a fictional story about a Pomeranian who is the mastermind behind city parks. I suspect Randy would have a lot of copies in Cave Man for the holidays, too.

man cave

The opening of the Big Man’s Cave in New Jersey Photo by Sue Vager

Hightstown began in 1721 by purchasing 3,000 acres of land. Over the centuries it has grown and attracted all kinds of businesses to this mile-wide city. I think the Heights would be proud to know that their land has become the home of dreamers and entrepreneurs like Randy Ellis. When I asked Randy what he was most proud of, he didn’t hesitate. He said (in that order), Marriage to Mary, his role in City Gardens, and the creation of the Man’s Cave and His Picture Gallery of City Gardens which is located in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Randy said, “I wish I could work for a music company. I was discovering all the new bands before they could find them.” This boy from Bordentown showed the world that this mail company was able to not only deliver mail – but spread his love of music to a wide audience. Thanks for the gift of music, Hightstown is lucky to have you.

Will you visit Randy Ellis’ Cave Man? Let us know in the comments!

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