Loren “Sully” Sullivan, the rock ‘n’ roll kitchen cabinet guy | Local

Belinda Arcitec

MOREAU — When entering a kitchen cabinet showroom, you expect to see a variety of cabinet choices in various configurations perfectly set up so patrons can picture what their own space will look like.

What you don’t expect, are old Victrolas with a Doors 45 rpm record ready to turn, a crate of old albums with Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” in front, guitars on stands, a cabinet tricked out as a rock ‘n’ roll shrine to a deceased friend — and lifelike versions of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks rocking out on a wall above the main desk.

But then again, most kitchen showrooms aren’t the Vintage Village Craftsman in Moreau operated by 63-year-old Loren “Sully” Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “old hippie” who has no cellphone, who bleeds ‘70s rock ‘n’ roll and has become a friend and frequent customer of internationally known artist Brian Fox, whose latest delivery was the lifelike Petty-Nicks painting.

“It’s truly the rock ‘n’ roll kitchen place,” he said in an interview last week. “I love being known as the rock ‘n’ roll kitchen place. I’m good with that.”

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The business is a reflection of himself — and he likes it that way.

“I like to make a connection with people. There’s got to be a connection somewhere, it can’t just be about kitchens,” he said, excitedly bouncing around the showroom from one part of his collection to another, pausing to unveil a New York Times supplement from the Woodstock festival.

The shrine for lifelong friend Tom Brunell consists of photos, a Walter Trout autographed mock guitar part, and a $300 first printing of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Street Survivor” album, which included fire on the cover that was removed in subsequent printings after the band’s tragic plane crash.

His longtime buddy, who passed away a few years ago, was a huge Skynyrd fan and he said his little memorial space adorning a cabinet “will stay there forever.”

And if you’re curious, the Meat Loaf album was purposely placed in front of the crate.

“I’ve had that out front since he died,” Sullivan said, adding that many people have commented on it, including one woman talking about her husband’s love for the tune “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” recalling how he’d sing lines of it to her.

Sullivan on Thursday was sporting a 45 record adapter T-shirt that he said passersby loved at the recent Robert Plant-Alison Krauss show. The shirt was covered partially by his trademark long curly black hair (fitting for a rock guy). While he looks the rocker part, however, he said he can “barely” play the guitar and is more a sideline listener.

His rock ‘n’ roll collection in his showroom, which includes a cigarette-in-the-mouth Keith Richards piece, is often a hit with husbands who enter, while the wives typically take the reins on cabinet selection.

He said his cabinet suppliers tell him customers are supposed to be looking at the cabinets and not all the rock stuff, but he said he basically shrugs that off.

And if patrons get the chance to get into Sullivan’s workshop out back, they’ll see a wall of Fox’s paintings featuring artists like Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Steven Tyler, Curt Cobain, Keith Richards and Gene Simmons.

A “Toxic Twins” print of Tyler and Perry might be his favorite, he said.

The paintings overlook piles of kitchen cabinets and tools, but also six crates filled with vintage albums, a turntable, huge amps — and another guitar. Although he hasn’t spun many records lately because it’s his busy season, when things slow down he said he will. For now, he’s content to listen to the local rock station 101.7-FM, which was cranking out The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” as he spoke.

Sullivan was introduced to Fox by friend Mike Dickinson, former owner of the iconic Siro’s in Saratoga Springs. Fox was here painting horses at the track, and though Dickinson is not a music guy, Sullivan said, he knew Fox was and he connected the two.

Fox said he is currently working with members of Pearl Jam, Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. As an artist who formerly “lived in a shed and traded paintings for food,” he said he is thankful for all the great people he has met and befriended.

“And Sully is one of them,” the Massachusetts native said.

To have a wall in Sullivan’s workshop covered with his paintings is also pretty cool “because I know how much he loves his music,” he said.

“And he’s such a connoisseur of music and the music world, a guy like that collecting my work is pretty humbling,” Fox said.

Sullivan sometimes loans paintings to The Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls to hang for shows. He loves to talk about The Strand, where he volunteers and frequently promotes shows to help out. He buys ads, helps bands lug equipment and sometimes reaches out to managers of older bands he thinks will fit well.

And he simply loves being around rockers like Martin Barre from Jethro Tull, his favorite Strand show to date.

“I do whatever I feel Jonathan (Strand General Manager Jonathan Newell) needs help with,” he said. “He’s busy. There’s nothing in it for me. I just support the place. I’m a volunteer and a sponsor.”

Newell said he believes The Strand has basically provided Sullivan an outlet for his love of music, and he said their friendship blossomed once he discovered what it was becoming. He said The Strand has almost become a project for Sullivan, perhaps in part for self-serving reasons.

“He keeps telling me how great it is to drive over a few miles and hear his favorite guitarists,” Newell said. “He’s becoming a sponsor and a promoter. He’s been a really big supporter, big boost of energy and a real part of the team. He just really lives for music.”

Though he now lives in South Glens Falls, he lived in Hudson Falls for 25 years and his wife Valerie grew up there. He loves that the theater is adding new life to the village.

“There’s some excitement in Hudson Falls and it’s a good thing,” Sullivan said.

In a telephone chat, he wanted to talk about his wife and how instrumental she has been in his life.

“She has really helped me with who I’ve become,” he said.

Asked if he has a wish list for a future Strand show, he initially said Todd Rundgren, then amended that to Randy Bachman of Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Oh, and he’s not done with the art collection either, saying he’s dying to add Robert Plant to the wall.

And Joe Walsh singing into the microphone he used for “Rocky Mountain Way.”

And the Wilson sisters from Heart.

“It takes a year or so to get stuff from him because he’s so booked up. I hate to keep hammering on him to get new stuff, but I’m not getting any younger and I got five or six more paintings I want!”

David Blow is a freelance journalist and professor of Media and Communication at Castleton University. He may be reached at [email protected]


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