On a recent weekend, there’s a satisfied hush among customers as they browse the collection of vintage vinyl records at Astro Record Store at 910 Main Street in Bastrop.
Owner and London native Kevin Mawby — better known as “Lippy” to friends and customers alike — is busy on his laptop scouting industry deals. Mawby has just put on the Youngbloods’ 1967 studio album “Earth Music” on a turntable. The store’s double front doors of the historic Kleinert Building are opened onto Main Street on this unseasonably warm afternoon, abuzz with tourists, residents pushing baby strollers with dogs and kids alongside, and the occasional Harley biker revving his engine.
What many shoppers say they savor about Astro Record Store are the verbal exchanges with Mawby on music history and trivia, plus the anticipation of great finds among his collection of nearly 10,000 records. Ken Zarifis, visiting from Austin, said he walked across Main Street for his first of many visits to Astro Record after grabbing a bite to eat at Maxine’s last year.
“I was just taken by the collection. There are lot of record stores, but there are not a lot of record stores that are really curated like this one. Lippy really knows what he’s doing. You can’t pull an album out that he doesn’t have some type of understanding about it,” Zarifis said. “It’s an exchange of ideas and thoughts with Lippy, as well as a financial exchange for vinyl. There’s a give and take with conversation. Today, I got Donald Byrd’s ‘Black Byrd’ album from 1973. This is where he went away from traditional jazz into a really funky groove.”
Britt Daniel, leader of Austin indie band Spoon, said he found a gem at Astro Record.
“It’s my first time here. I don’t think I’ve been to Bastrop since I was a kid,” Daniel said. “My friend who cuts my hair just opened a shop here. I had walked by Astro Record at first, then she mentioned Lippy and I came back. I’ve been looking for this Bee Gees album ‘Idea’ for over a month. I’ve been to four or five record stores (in the Austin area), just kind of casually asking anytime I would go in. ‘Do you have this one Bee Gees’ record?’ – and I finally got it here today.”
Haley Redd, from Bastrop, said, “It’s like my second home, it’s so calming to come here, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I love the record collection. Today I got ‘The Very Best of Cream.’ I’m pretty new, I’m still getting into records. I trust Lippy and I know the quality of the records are going to be great every time. Lippy’s definitely a really cool guy, very friendly. Any record you bring to him, he knows about it and tells you about it.”
Mawby says the chats with customers are the bread and butter of his record shop.
“You tend to have two different types of people who come in here, people who are interested in learning stuff and there’s people interested in teaching stuff – and sometimes it’s the same person. I adjust my banter accordingly,” Mawby said. “Before the internet, the situation was, when somebody came into my shop – I’ve been doing this for 35 years – I was the expert. I had and have great general knowledge of what’s in my store. But now with the internet, people come in prepared and they often times know more about the stuff they are looking for than I do. I like to learn from them, too. We have fun growing and learning about music.”
Mawby also enjoys the occasional friendly barb tossed his way from some of his longtime customers. Don Roach is a regular at Astro Record who said he gets a kick out of the eclectic music selection and the give-and-take with Mawby.
“Lippy’s got a great selection and the prices are very good. I’m a ’60s and ’70s rock guy and also a big blues person. I’ve probably bought 40 records here. I’m a huge Eagles fan, and found some very nice first issues here,” Roach said. “I shoot the breeze with Lippy a lot – most of the time I don’t understand him. Then there’s his attitude and all that. For a businessman, he laughs too damn much,” prompting a convulsion of laughter from Mawby. “He most definitely lives up to that name, Lippy.”
Mawby explained, “Lippy is a nickname that was bestowed upon me as a child. I got the name when I was about 11 in school. Some people thought it was because I had big lips, some thought it was because I talked a lot.”
Mawby acknowledges the costs that come with venturing into vinyl.
“A friend jokingly asked a customer at the counter recently what attracted her to vinyl — was it the expense or the inconvenience. The truth of the matter is, it’s both,” Mawby said. “A hard format like a record, and to a lesser degree a CD, makes you invest money, time and effort into the process of listening to it. So you become more involved. You are not just hearing the music, you’re actively participating in listening to it. It’s more immersive in that you can enjoy the cover and reading the liner notes, pulling out a record and putting it on a turntable.”
While the vast majority of Mawby’s record sales are through customer purchases (he also appraises and buys records from them), online ordering is available at the store’s website, astrorecordstore.com; selections are also featured on Instagram: @astrorecordstore.
“Music has always sculpted my life and life’s choices,” Mawby said. “I caught the very end of punk rock in London in 1977, 1978, when I was 15 and 16 years old. My closest group of high school friends all were sort of punk rockers and new wave. We saw the Sex Pistols in 1978,” Mawby said. “My social activities were the result of me going to hear live music. I didn’t really collect records. I didn’t have money. My friends would ‘acquire’ records (he laughs). I liked records but the live music scene was much more exciting for me.”
A visit to the United States changed his course.
“In 1981, I came to America. I didn’t know I was going to move to America. I decided to stay because I fell in love with somebody and with the country at the same time,” Mawby said.
He got a job in New Orleans as a roadie for a touring punk band, the Red Rockers, and later worked at Record Ron’s, a legendary vinyl store in New Orleans. In 1992, he and a partner opened Magic Bus Records, named for the Who song and housed in a repurposed bus in the French Quarter. He later made the move to a brick-and-mortar store.
But Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, upended everything.
“Katrina was difficult because I lost my friends. My friends scattered, everybody scattered,” Mawby told the Bastrop Advertiser in a 2019 interview. His landlord lost all of her other properties, forcing her to move into Mawby’s space. A friend in Austin contacted Mawby and he moved there. After a short stint, he moved to Cedar Creek and onto Bastrop in 2010.
Mawby worked for nine years with Head Start, an early childhood development program for low-income families. In 2019, he opened his first location of Astro Record Store on Pine Street and moved to his Main Street location in 2020.
He continues to be involved in the community, serving on the Music Friendly Committee in collaboration with the Texas Music Office. A tape Mawby made when he first opened in 2019 neatly captures why he hangs his hat in Bastrop.
“I opened a store in Bastrop because this is my home, this is where I live. I like this town a lot. It has a vital downtown energy that is being lost in a lot of small towns, but Bastrop is hanging onto it and doing well. This store is focused on the unusual and the interesting,” Mawby said, as his customers nod their heads in affirmation.