News Column

Music store marks 40 years

May 2, 2013

YellowBrix

May 02--The Owensboro Music Store turned 40 in December, but the celebration won't stop anytime soon.

"We're constantly bringing new products and keeping up with the changes," said Gordy Wilcher, who owns the store with Hank Starks. "So, we plan to be around for 40 more years."

The Owensboro Music Store will launch its anniversary celebration with "Monday Night Live" at 6 p.m. May 6. The featured artist is guitarist Freddy DeMarco, who has endorsements with Blackstar amplifiers. It is at 1303 Breckenridge St.

The store's May calendar has a few other "Monday Night Live" shows, with local country rock and folk singer-songwriters Andy Brasher at 6 p.m. on May 13 and Arnie Weiner, at 6 p.m. on May 27.

"Local musicians don't always have a platform, so we're glad to offer one," Starks said.

The artists welcome the music center's ideas.

"The cozy audience setting allows the musician to emotionally connect with the audience," Weiner said. "The lyrics become more important and the musician's skills on their instrument can be fully appreciated ... I hope that they're able to expand this concept and add more dates each month."

Through Wilcher's former post as board member for the North American Music Merchants (NAMM), the music center will bring the John Lennon Foundation Educational Experience Tour Bus. The non-profit mobile audio and HD video recording and production studio offers free tours and songwriting and multimedia production workshops by on-board engineers from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 23 at Smothers Park.

"That's a big deal for us, and the city has been superb in helping with it," Wilcher said. "It's a teaching tool and an idea Yoko (Ono) started to preserve John's memory."

The store will also host its fourth annual Musicians Flea Market and Swap Meet from 9 a.m. to approximately 5 p.m. on May 25. It will be in the lot just south of the store.

"So many opportunities just fell into place for us this month," Starks said. "We're gonna be busy, but we're OK with that for the love of music."

Starks will host "PA 101" at 6 p.m. on May 15. With a background in sound reinforcement -- he has installed or maintained sound systems in more than 250 churches in the region, among other related tasks -- Starks said he noticed a need for many customers to learn more about using their audio equipment. He leads the free seminar on select Thursdays each month.

Starks and Wilcher began the company on Dec. 7, 1973. The men leased three locations before buying the current property in 1996.

Despite the spike in online music and equipment purchases, Wilcher and Starks said they believe in the future of music stores.

"Our industry has really changed, many have," Wilcher said. "But we've been in this community for a long time and we're blessed with support. We could be more competitive, but we want to do more than that."

Summer anniversary events include customer appreciation barbecues and "possibly some new things we'd like to try," Wilcher said.

They have also set plans to redesign and upgrade parts of the store's interior.

Though they established the store, Starks and Wilcher said its success and growth couldn't have happened without a team, including staff members Bobby Blackford, Ryan Clark and Louis Smith, and eight musicians who teach various instruments to about 140 people there.

While the look and the programs might change, the atmosphere will remain, Wilcher said.

"It's amazing to look at where we started and where we are, "Wilcher siad. "We were just two buddies going after what we love. It's always great to be able to do what you love. We just want people to come to the events, enjoy themselves and leave thinking, 'I wonder what they'll do next?'"

For more information or to participate in Monday Night Live, PA 101 or the musician swap meet, call 684-2156 or see facebook.com/Owensboromusic or owensboromusiccenter.com.

Angela Oliver, 691-7360, aoliver@messenger-inquirer.com

The following lists the Owensboro Music Center's May events. All events are free and open to the public.

May 6: Monday Night Live with clinic by guitarist Freddy DeMarco, 7 p.m.

May 13: Monday Night Live with Andy Brasher, 6 p.m.

May 15: PA 101 with Hank Starks, 6 p.m.

May 18: Ukulele Circle, 11 a.m.

May 20: Recital of instructor Mike Hopson's bluegrass instrument students, 6 p.m.

May 23: John Lennon Foundation Educational Experience Tour Bus, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Smothers Park

May 25: Fourth Annual Musicians' Flea Market and swap Meet, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

May 27: Monday Night Live with Arnie Weiner, 6 p.m.

May 30: First "Guitar Tasting" and demonstrations with G & L Factory representatives, 7 to 9 p.m.

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(c)2013 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.)

Visit the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.) at www.messenger-inquirer.com

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