One of the galleries that is featured in the New York Annex of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

One of the galleries that is featured in the New York Annex of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Twenty years ago he was living in Jogues and going to Joe Jackson and Thompson Twins concerts on campus. Today, Craig Inciardi has one of the ultimate jobs that most music fans at Fairfield can only dream of: curator of the New York City annex of the Cleveland-based Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. The Mirror reporter Julie Cleary recently visited the HOF annex with her freshman cluster class, then talked to Inciardi about Fairfield and the future of music.

The Mirror: You have a job most Fairfield students would kill for. Briefly, how did you get it?

Craig Inciardi: I was recruited to work at an auction house and at that point I started to put together auctions with various types of memorabilia — rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, sports memorabilia, antique toys. It was sort of a miscellaneous store but I had always been a music fan and a collector of ticket stubs, records, autographs … It was sort of a hobby that became a profession. After three years at Sotheby’s, I was approached by one of their biggest customers, a gentleman named Seymour Stein, who was on the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he helped mound the Hall of Fame.

TM: Do you actually decide whether a picture of, say, Jimi Hendrix is too expensive to buy for the museum? Or whether you already have enough memorabilia about Coldplay?
CI: We generally don’t purchase that much material that is at the museum; most of the artifacts are either donated or loaned … We’re a non-profit so we rely on donations and loans. Loans come from artists or collectors.

TM: What is a typical day like?
CI: Well, it can vary. I might be working with a collector or artist trying to decide what types of artifacts they have that might best suit an exhibit that they are working on.  I travel a little bit, often to California or London to meet with a lot of artists. I am centered in New York; there are a lot of people in New York, and record labels are centered in New York, often record labels archives and representatives of the record label. Also, looking at materials that were sent to Cleveland. Sometimes [it involves] more conceptual work with colleagues to decide what they are going to do with a new exhibit, what the parameters are going to be ..

TM: The Hall of Fame is in Cleveland. Why did you open an annex in NYC?
CI: The annex opened last year. The concept is a taste of the museum. The museum is very large, over 125,000 square feet, and the annex is much smaller. The annex is very New York centered whereas the museum is very broad.

TM: Were you passionate about music when you were at Fairfield? Are there any artists who inspired you to have a career that is so focused on music and rock and roll?
CI: I was actually; I did some writing for The Mirror; I did some record reviews (not too many though), but I always went to concerts. My friends and I and my future wife would often go to concerts either on campus, in New Haven, and we went to Hartford and Manhattan. So I was always very passionate.

TM: How did Fairfield help prepare you for this job?
CI: I was an English and Communications major and I had a communications class – the professor was very enthusiastic about people getting into the auctioning and arts and antique collecting business. So I sort of took his lead. He sort of inspired me.

Attendees at the recent opening of the John Lennon exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex.

Attendees at the recent opening of the John Lennon exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex.

TM: In hindsight, was taking 20 courses in the core useful for you as you change jobs and your career unfolds?
CI: It did. I do a lot of writing in my work and I felt that I got a lot of writing experience that was very practical. Since my job is very much in the liberal arts vein, it was a very practical curriculum for me. I work in a museum and it presents work about music and pop cultural and politics.

TM: Prediction time: Name two relatively unknown bands who you think are so good that they may wind up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
CI: There’s lots of great bands that are just hitting the charts now that we are working with but they won’t even be eligible to be inducted for a long time. To be inducted, you have to have recorded at least 25 years prior to the year that you were inducted, so again there is a lot of new contemporary acts that I love who are not eligible but could still be included in the museums exhibits. I mean I could tell you right now somebody who I really love is Duffy, but she is by no means undiscovered. She’s a British pop singer. But I am honestly not so connected to the underground music business. Undiscovered bands are not necessarily my territory.

TM: Where did you live each year on campus?

CI: Jogues for two years and then lived at the beach for two years. Off-campus at the beach.

TM: Name five songs you listened to recently on your iPod.

  1. Miles Davis  — So What
  2. Abba — Mamma Mia
  3. Rolling Stones — Jumpin’ Jack Flash
  4. Radiohead — My Iron Lung
  5. Amy Winehouse — Love is A Losing Game

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