Down To A Tee

Gianna Volpe
Cory Brown at his Red Shed Print Shop in Mattiuck.

There’s a new face in the Mattituck space once known as “The Barn,” and it belongs to an occupant who is embodying the musical tradition this Wickham Avenue building has carried on for years by simply being a musician himself.

Cory Brown, 30, is the bassist for a local band known as An Old Friend, which released a new song and music video last week, but he’s also the owner of Red Shed Print Shop, which began 12 years ago in an 8 x 12 aluminum shed where the former Riverhead High School student first began screen-printing shirts simply because he’d gotten a quote from a t-shirt company that was too high.

“I had no idea what went into screen-printing t-shirts,” Brown said of saving up cash and clicking a button online to order equipment that came to his Riverhead home in five gigantic boxes. “You needed a darkroom, the screens, the squeegees, the special inks. I just had to build it up slowly through the years. As soon as I figured out what I needed to do, I made a makeshift darkroom in my bathroom. My mom was not happy about that. Now I finally have everything I need in a bigger space.”

That space was once the site of an invitation-only open mic jam where local and international artists like Who Are Those Guys, Rob Europe, the Swinson Sisters, Prentice McNeill, Marky Ramone, and Jeff Fabb mingled during free musical events, according to Rocky Divello, violinist for The Butterfly Cody Experience, who started up the regular jams to fill a void after a number of local open mics were discontinued.

“A lot of the people, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who they were,” Divello said of the musical stars who played at The Barn. “People would say, ‘Oh, do you know who that guy was?’ These were famous people who heard about it from the south side who would come down here to play with us. It was sort of like in the spirit of Levon Helm with his barn upstate. It was a nice, cool place for people to gather and play music, which is a tradition I think Cory is hoping to carry on.”

While An Old Friend has been using the building to practice, Brown’s real dream lies in combining his life’s passions — music and screen-printing — by printing t-shirts for a group while they play live on Wickham Avenue. “That would be so cool,” said Brown, adding he learned his new shop would also be perfect for movie nights after watching “Godzilla” by projector there while waiting for his band to arrive.

The suggestion that Red Shed take on the space came through Jen Divello of Revel North Fork, whom Brown has been working with for years, but the union carries with it the blessing of her Uncle Rocky.

“Cory is just an artist in every way,” the well-loved local whose family built Mattituck Sanitation said of their tenant. “He’s a great new entrepreneur who has some good ideas and he’s a musician. We like to promote musicians and artists of every type, so I’m happy to do whatever I can to help.”

Brown has occupied the building since September 1 and Red Shed Print Shop had its grand opening — North Fork Brewing Company beer and Mattitaco food truck included — on October 12. Brown said he wouldn’t be surprised if 75 people made it through the doors throughout the day of the event. That just would not have been possible back in Riverhead, but the name honoring Brown’s roots will remain and for now, the prices. “I’ve been charging the same price since 2007,” he said. “I have a minimum of a dozen and most places don’t do that. You have to get at least four dozen shirts, so I do both smaller and bigger orders.”

The young screen-printer has upgraded his equipment and currently uses a conveyor dryer to heat-cure the inks on his t-shirts, which he has made for bands like Monochromatic Black and local companies like Sunny Side Up B&B and Braun’s Grill, but he is also doing vinyl/sign work on Wickham Avenue.

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Gianna Volpe is the morning host Monday through Friday on 88.3 WPPB FM.

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