MEET: Richie Kossuth of Rock Street Music

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First Posted: 5/11/2015

Richie Kossuth is co-owner of Rock Street Music in Pittston and a founding member of the band Flaxy Morgan. Rock Street Music, which notes its 30th anniversary this year, and which Kossuth owns with his brother, Billy, specializes in selling musical instruments and equipment, renting sound equipment and offering musical lessons. Kossuth, 53, is a native of Hughestown and is 1979 graduate of Pittston Area High School. He is also a graduate of Luzerne County Community College.

You had originally considered careers in pharmaceuticals and occupational therapy. What made you switch gears and get into the music business? I was going to LCCC and working at a store called Just Drums, and the music just hit me. I’d go to school during the day, and then go to the store, and I just loved doing it. They decided to go out of business, and I had thoughts about opening up my own store. One day, my mother and brother called me and said, “We got a loan for you to go into business.”

After 30 years, what do you still love about it? About three weeks ago, there was a church that had musical equipment stolen, and my brother and I reached out and gave them equipment to use. We didn’t even know this, but they were interviewed on TV and mentioned that we helped them out. You don’t know how many people sent me messages saying, “It was so nice of you guys to do that.” And that was so nice. To hear that there are still nice people in the world that take the time to say, “Hey, I saw that on TV, and it was really nice” was nice. Being a part of the community is a big part of it. And there are so many kids that were 8 or 9 years old, and have taken lessons here, and still come back. I talk to every person that comes in, one-on-one, whether it’s a kid or an adult. I just enjoy having people walk out of here, smiling and saying, “Thank you for helping us.”

The walls in your store are covered with photos of you rubbing shoulders with some famous people you’ve met through your work. Any fun stories? We did sound at The White House. Daddy-O & The Sax Maniax were playing a wedding, and this guy comes over to me and we were just talking, and I said, “Normally, I’m a drummer, but I thought it would be neat to do sound at The White House.” He said, “I play drums, too.” I said, “Oh, do you still play?” He said, “Same band for 30 years.” I asked what the name of the band was, and he said, “The Grateful Dead.” It was Bill Kreutzmann. I felt like such an idiot. He was cool. We talked for a good hour. He gave me his business card, and I called, and we sent some emails back and forth. The second time that we were at The White House, I had the chance to play drums with President Clinton for a song. That was for his wife’s sock-hop surprise 50th birthday party. The first time we were all in tuxedos. The second time we were in jeans and white T-shirts. It was really cool. And Casey Kasem was there. Throughout the years, there’s been different people that I’ve had the chance to meet, like Pat Benatar and Billy Joel.

What do you do in your free time? I really don’t have a lot of free time, but if I do have a day, I just go for rides and take pictures. I love photography, whether it’s summer or winter.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists? Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis.

Follow sports? Dallas Cowboys. I’ve been to see them play in Dallas five times, and I saw them play in Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta.

Favorite holiday? Christmas. For the past 21 years, I’ve played Santa on Christmas Eve and I thoroughly enjoy it. I come to the a store and do some work, go home, get in my Santa outfit, do that for a few hours, them come home, change, and read at Midnight Mass.

Biggest pet peeve? People that don’t use their turn signal. Or if you let somebody in when you’re in traffic and they don’t say, “Thank you.”

Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends? I was an Eagle Scout at age 14, and even up until about a year ago, if I had some free time, I was spending time helping with the Boy Scouts. I’ve also been a lector at church for 40 years and I’m close to my 16-gallon pin for donating blood.

Is there someone or something in your life that helped make you the person you are today? It actually goes back to the Boy Scouts. I did all of my work and got all of my merit badges. My Eagle Scout project was collecting toys for St. Joseph’s Center in Scranton. Throughout all of those years, there were a lot of things taught to us. You learned to respect things.