Interview by Jessica Hanneman
Last year in March of 2016 when cofounder of Cedar City, Utah’s only record store, Tim Crestsinger died due to cancer, his wife Lisa was left to mourn him and continue the music legacy. Lisa Rumel Cretsinger often worked behind the scenes at Groovacious and Groovefest, was not as well-known as her husband, but she was okay with letting him take the spotlight. Despite the loss of her husband she has kept the music alive. Lisa and Tim were married a month before opening their first store together in Portland, Oregon 25 years ago, in 1992. They moved their lives and love of music to Cedar City, Utah in the year 2000 and began hosting the music festival known as Groovefest.
Do you believe Groovacious will host live music concerts again? Because it was a huge music venue for the Cedar City area, especially when it came to folk or alternative indie music that the locals usually did not listen to. Groovacious has always been a place for live music. This new location has been a challenge because I don’t have the stage and the big setting before for couches and sofas like at the old location. Groovacious is a hub for live music. To get back to that I need my energy levels to go up and possibly a new better stage area. I think in the future Groovacious will host live music again.
Could you use the outdoor patio at this new location for summer concerts and the like? That’s an idea but there’s some problems here. For one, it’s ugly out here and I don’t have the facilities here that I had in the old store, there’s not a lot of power sources here and none of the sound equipment. I’m also running on low energy, I’m hoping to regain some more of my energy soon. Groovacious will always be a place for musicians to perform, at least I’m hoping it will be in the future, I want it to be.
How would you say you handle things differently than Tim at this new location? Tim and I have different ways of handling people, in some ways I think that I am better at handling things than he is. It’s just hard because I wanted to move into this new store and new chapter in our lives with him. It was going to be a slowing down period since he was getting to retirement age. And he’s not here to share that with. It’s just me now I don’t have a guide to bounce ideas off of. It’s been a challenge.
Is Tim the one who used to do most of the promotions and sound set up for live musicians who passed through or were you also a part of that? How much of the process would he take care of? He was great at doing promotions, he was constantly promoting the store. He would write a weekly blog of all the events happening in Cedar City and the community; trying to get people to get together and try new things. He really wanted a hub for people to come and find out things, network and come together. That was his strength.
I remember you once saying that Tim was more of a people person. He’s good at it. He loved to have long conversations and stop and chat with people. And I do too, it’s just that I was doing a lot of behind the scenes stuff. I was constantly doing paper work and other types of business stuff, that’s why I wasn’t such a presence out on the floor. I didn’t mind having Tim being our face, our mascot, the visual of Groovacious, because I am a little shyer and reserved so it was just natural for him to be that guy. That’s where a lot of my anxiety comes from. He’s not here and now that’s me and I’m not as good at it. People don’t know me. It’s scary for me.
Is there anything that seems more difficult to be around when Tim first passed, like being in the store or listening to music? It was very painful, all the lyrics had to do with him being sick and dying and our separation, me missing him and going on alone. All the music was emotional, which it is generally but now it was emotional on a whole other level. It was hard for me to hear it all the time, it was extremely painful. I kind of forced myself to listen. It was making me tired and I was exhausted.
And being in the physical store, how was that? That was hard cause he’s everywhere there’s pictures of him everywhere, tons of memories. The future is in here too. It was ripped away from us, you know the future you were going to have with this person all these wonderful things you were planning to do just vanished. Then you’re faced with that reality all day every day so, a lot of hard days just being here. And yet I was. I worked every day in that grief-stricken mourning and I’m not sure how I did it.
How did you deal with your grief? How were you able to continue to do it? I just kept ordering things, paying bills, running astronomical amount of activity, thinking while I was so sad and hurting, and changing so rapidly physically and mentally. Everything was so foreign and strange to me.
Even things that were usually similar? Yes. I lost weight due to mourning, so all my clothing changed and fit differently. The vision of Tim is gone, the thing I’m most familiar with looking at is no longer there. So now I’m looking at a whole new group of people and a lot of them are strangers. There’s new friends coming and even some going. I lost friends too, a lot of people didn’t want to come and see me. It was too hard for them to be around me because I was very sad. It was natural for me to be sorrowful in my space.
In your space? By that do you mean at your home or Groovacious? It was hard for me to separate the two. People couldn’t handle that, but I have no apologizes about grieving and my emotions. Emotions are what make you human. For me to put on a fake façade, was not genuine to me. It would be a lie. I grieved here at the store openly. This store is my home too. So, everyone coming in is coming to my home. They come in so I have to deal with everyone a-fresh the minute they walk in. Its constantly a changing of emotions and energy all day which can be tiring. And that’s something you have to deal with when being a self-employed retail person. But it goes both ways, they’re going to have to accept that I may be depressed that I feel terrible, that I’m not fully recovered. I may cry in front of them, and it’s very possible that I will.
That’s hard for some customers to understand in retail I feel like there is a stigma for emotions to be in the work place. People expect you to be very stoic, but that’s never been the way our store was. It’s been an extension of our home life, extension of our relationship as a couple in this community. So, for that to change would have been a lie.
During that time was it difficult to open up to people or talk? I had opened my heart to people and it was frightening. It’s a little vulnerable, and I was vulnerable. I could have easily been taken advantage of. I was taken advantage of too, I had some very unpleasant moments. People hurt me too. I had some completely inappropriate behavior from strangers. I’m amazed that I didn’t get hurt worse. A lot of people didn’t know who I was or how I was involved with Tim or Groovacious. They didn’t know who I was and they didn’t care to know.
Have you received any help from the community? Since you and Tim were big supporters of this community, has anyone stepped up to either help you or the store? Not really the community, but specific people have come to my aid all this year, most have been unexpectedly. People I didn’t know well suddenly became very important friends that I love and developed a strong bond with. There were people that I knew before that I suddenly got to know more in depth. For example, someone very close to Tim that I had known for years, became someone I ended up just calling to “please just come and be with me” and he did. And he’s not someone that I had expected to be there for me. We developed a very strong friendship because he was willing to be there for me. That was a pleasant surprise. There were other people and it’s kind of scary. But it makes me think, “Oh I wish Tim was here to share this new friendship with me, with this person and he’s not here dang it. It’s terrible.”