Friends, customers reflect on legacy of beloved Regina X-Ray Records owner Dave Kuzenko

Dave Kuzenko, left, and former employee and longtime friend Derek Petrovitch, right, at X-Ray Records in the early 2000s. (Submitted by Derek Petrovitch - image credit)
Dave Kuzenko, left, and former employee and longtime friend Derek Petrovitch, right, at X-Ray Records in the early 2000s. (Submitted by Derek Petrovitch - image credit)

It's been a hard week for Regina's music scene as it mourns the loss of longtime local record store owner Dave Kuzenko.

Kuzenko was well-known in the Queen City as owner of X-Ray Records downtown. He was also a long-running columnist at CBC Saskatchewan and co-founded the community radio station 91.3 FM CJTR.

His daughters Ivy and Anastasia Kuzenko confirmed his death in an Instagram post Friday.

"We are so heartbroken to share the news of Dave's sudden and unexpected passing in hospital," the post reads.

"His family was by his side, and he went gently and with humour as was his nature. This community and the friendships you shared meant the world to him, and we know how much he meant to the music community in Regina. Our dad will be deeply missed and loved forever."

Kuzenko opened Records on Wheels in the Scarth Street Mall in 1987. By 2004, he moved to 11th Avenue and opened X-Ray Records.

Since Friday, friends and customers of Kuzenko's have flooded the internet with posts and tributes.

"Just seeing all the posts, I didn't realize so many people thought this way about him," said longtime friend Jeff "RedBeard" Corbett.

Corbett knew Kuzenko for about 35 years.

"I'm just devastated. It's been very hard. Dave was a really easy going guy to get along with," he said.

Submitted by Derek Petrovitch
Submitted by Derek Petrovitch

Corbett himself was in the record business for a long time, and worked on and off at Vintage Vinyl & Hemp Emporium downtown. He said Vintage Vinyl and Kuzenko's old store Records on Wheels had a very close relationship. Kuzenko would send customers to Vintage Vinyl when they couldn't find what they were looking for, and vice-versa.

"There wasn't a day that went by where I didn't send someone over to Records on Wheels," Corbett said.

He said that relationship continued when Kuzenko opened X-Ray Records.

Submitted by Derek Petrovitch
Submitted by Derek Petrovitch

CJTR community radio

Corbett said many do not know that Kuzenko co-founded community radio station CJTR.

"When I really became better friends with him was when him and three other people started the radio station. It actually took them five years, a lot of fundraising, planning, working. But the station went on the air Nov. 5, 2001, and I was one of the original programmers," Corbett said.

Both music lovers had their own shows on CJTR over the years, even collaborating on a program at one point, with Corbett choosing half the music and Kuzenko choosing the other half.

"He's had a big impact on such a large part of my life."

Bringing people together

Derek Petrovich is a former employee of Kuzenko's and was close friends with him up until his death. Petrovich said he was Kuzenko's very first customer at Records on Wheels.

"Even when it wasn't even open yet … I'd peek in the window and was watching them set up. And then I found out when it was opening and I was there first thing. I was there before Dave," Petrovich said.

Submitted by Derek Petrovitch
Submitted by Derek Petrovitch

He said the shop was a hangout hub for music lovers.

"All the gig posters were always there and everybody came there to buy tickets or even to find out what was going on that night," said Petrovich.

"So it's really kind of like your place to go to hear about what was happening within the city, and that in itself helped grow the scene. Regina has always had a good music scene and I think his store played a huge part in that. I know it did."

Petrovich said Kuzenko will be remembered for his humour, kindness and ability to unite Regina with music. He said Kuzenko knew about all music, even the genres he didn't personally like.

"He was more than just a record sales guy. He was people's friend. He was your friend in music."

Petrovich said losing Kuzenko is devastating, but he has many memories and items to remember his friend by, including the two original signs for Records on Wheels and X-Ray Records, and a tattoo of Kuzenko himself on his leg.

Submitted by Derek Petrovitch
Submitted by Derek Petrovitch

Champion of local music 

Former CBC radio journalist Eric Anderson said he spent a lot of money on records at Kuzenko's store over the years due to the X-Ray owner's encyclopedic knowledge. Hearing about his death was difficult.

"I was in shock, and then I was just really sad too, because I really enjoyed talking about music with him," Anderson said. "I think it's a big loss for the music community in our province. But also just on a personal level, I consider Dave a friend."

Anderson said Kuzenko did a wonderful job of introducing people to new music that they would love for years to come.

"Dave's selection of vinyl was so eclectic. What really impressed me was he would have all these live bootlegs that I've never seen in any other stores before … it would sort of blow me away a little bit."

Submitted by Eric Anderson
Submitted by Eric Anderson

Kuzenko's passion for music did not stay within the walls of X-Ray Records. Anderson said Kuzenko would carry local musicians' records and was frequently spotted at venues and events like The Exchange, The Artesian and the Regina Folk Festival.

"I would always be excited when I'd walk into a show or walk into a venue and see that Dave was there. It's like, 'Oh these guys must be really good, because if Dave's coming to check it out that's going to be a a good show,'" Anderson said.

"I'm so glad that he was there in my life to introduce me to so many new bands. But it also makes me sad that now he won't be able to do that for a whole other generation of music lovers."