- 05 Oct 06
As part of the build-up to Music Ireland ’06 in the RDS next month, hotpress has launched a nationwide campaign to encourage musicians to support their local instrument shop. Jackie Hayden explains the central importance of the local store to the Irish music industry – and to every musician’s livelihood.
What does a young musician do to feed the hunger they feel growing in them to play? How do they satisfy the lust that they feel towards a particular guitar? How do they make a connection with other musicians? A lot of the time they go down to the local music store, or in Dublin they head from one mecca to the next, trying out instruments and bumping into the youngsters that will be their peers.
So, from the word go, the musician has a relationship with the local store, a relationship that often lasts throughout the musician’s lifetime.
Over a period, a musician builds up a feeling of trust in both the shop and the personnel behind the counter. In many cases musicians themselves, the assistants can advise on where to get lessons. They can alert the young musician to fresh developments – a new effects pedal, the latest advance in home recording and so on. They’ll let even a beginner test out new models. And they’ll serve as a contact point and suggest connections with other musicians, whether personally or via the notice board facilities most shops provide free of charge.
In effect, the local instrument and equipment store becomes an essential facility – a kind of virtual tool of the musician’s trade.
- But with the rise of the internet, the central role of the local dealer is under threat. Which is why hotpress has launched the campaign to Support Your Local Dealer.
Lesley Kane from Music Maker, who distribute instruments to virtually every store in the country, is in no doubt about the importance of music shops. “The rock and roll seed is planted by our heroes who inspire us to take up an instrument,” she says. “We take another step up the stairway to heaven by ascending in droves on the local music store. We make friends with our favourite salesman because he knows what we like. We form bands, play gigs, and then we can’t wait for the next issue of hotpress to see if the gig was reviewed.
“I reckon every famous Irish rock star would testify that in their formative years, this was the procedure. So I think this campaign is very timely. I believe that the time has come to remind the would-be rock star how important the local music store is.”
- Hot Press has launched this campaign because we believe that the local instrument dealer plays an integral part in the development of Irish music.
Yes, you might find something a bit cheaper on the Internet from a company in deepest Slovenia. But will you be able to hold the instrument, weigh it in your hands, test the feel of fingers on fretboard? Will it arrive in the right number of pieces? If it gets broken in transit, will the seller suddenly become hard to reach?
And what happens if the instrument needs repairs and the parts aren’t available anywhere convenient? Or if something breaks the night before you’re due to record the new single?
There’s a moral argument here too. If you bypass the local instrument shop, just to save a few euro, can you expect them to get that replacement part in a hurry?
And if you are one of those artists who feels that your local radio station should support you by giving your record airplay and announcing details of your gigs, do you not have a duty to support other elements of the industry?
It may not always have been universally appreciated, but there is an underlying sense of community about the Irish music scene.
This is something that the Support Your Local Dealer Campaign aims to strengthen. What we need in Ireland is a support structure, which is based on a collective sense of shared purpose.
- We all want Irish bands, musicians and solo artists to make great music and to take on the world successfully.
It doesn’t mean that you have to believe uncritically that what the other guy is doing is always wonderful and faultless. But it does mean recognising how important the local infrastructure is and doing your bit to support it.
Your local instrument shop is a vital part of the music structure not just in your area but in Ireland as a whole. Use it, or lose it.
Why we support the Hot Press campaign: musicians speak out
GRAHAM HOPKINS (Boss Volenti)
“I couldn’t buy an instrument on-line. I have to touch it, feel it and maybe try it out with up to five other options. Playing music is a very personal thing and you need the personal touch that a shop can give you, so that you’re aware of what’s best for you. A good instrument shop like Music Maker will sell you what’s best for your needs, whereas somebody overseas will just sell you the dearest thing they’ve got. I’ve been a customer of theirs since I was a kid, and I’ve had great help and advice from the lads behind the counter. I really support this campaign all the way.”
“When I was in Wexford working on the demos for my new album Out There, I got this mandolin riff. I loved to play the mandolin as a child, but haven’t had one for years. I really wanted to do it while the ideas were fresh, so I went to Minstrel Music, which is 20 minutes away, where I bought a very reasonably priced model and ended up bringing it with me to record the album.
“Similarly, I had a few ideas for the drum part, so I bought a snare and some sticks. I got into drums years ago, but don’t own a kit, so it was great to have one available on my doorstep. I brought in the wonderful Liam Bradley to play on the album, but it was great to have my ideas on the demo. Minstrel Music also hire instruments, which is brilliant for trying out an instrument, before making the financial commitment. That’s the sort of thing that makes the local dealer so important and irreplaceable. When I’m in Dublin. I have Musician Inc. near where I live. They have a great variety of gear and accessories and they are always really helpful.”
ASHLEY KEATING (Frank and Walters)
“We bought our first instruments from Crowley’s in Cork in 1985 – and we’ve been dealing with them ever since. We recorded the new album in the summer and they were a great back-up service. They’re a family business and you get great personal attention. Over the years, they’ve got to know our quirks and can steer us in the right direction. If we want a valve for a 1963 Fender bass amp, they’ll track one down for us. We need our stuff serviced 3 or 4 times a year and you can only do that with reliable people, which is why local instrument shops are vital. There’s also a new place in Cork called The House of Music and they’re good too. Young bands shouldn’t be afraid of talking to people in music shops. Develop relationships with them and then you’ll know you have somebody local to rely on when you need a bit of advice or information.”
“I bought my first violin and my accordion in Powell’s in Galway and I used to buy strings and music books in Raftery’s in Galway but it’s now closed. Those places were so important to me, developing as a musician. When I’m in Dublin, I go to Music Maker where I bought the keyboards and the hard-disc recorder and other things for my debut album. Paul Lyttle there is a great guy for advice and information. I also go to Opus 2 in Dublin, where they have a great selection of education books about different music theories. I find that shopping local is an important experience in itself, meeting and talking to people who understand the needs of the musician. Even the smell of some music shops has an excitement about it that’s impossible to describe!”