Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Music Store

Located between the Polka Dot dairy store and what was once a candy store, Amanda Bacon's Music Studio was an anomaly. Run by a fiesty sexagenarian, this small shop, in what was otherwise a cultural desert, sat there unpretentiously for years, with Miss Bacon making a modest living giving piano and stringed instrument lessons. This business model changed abruptly when a certain combo from Liverpool appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. Suddenly dozens of teen-aged boys were seen there loitering, buying guitar picks and strings, even taking lessons. And they came face to face with the real deal, Amanda from Kentucky, who was roots music personified, before anyone even knew what that was. I'd stop in almost weekly, my purchases minor, but every visit was a little mini-lesson in some facet of guitar-playing. "Now I'll sell you those picks, two for a quarter, but don't go bendin' 'em, hold it just so, no, no, like this..." she had a lot of students now, but she was always looking for more. She sold instruments too, and amplifiers. Amanda was on a roll.

I drifted away from her little shop and went elsewhere, to places that opened doors for us: "...buy a set of gear and we'll see to it that you get a shot at the teen fair, in August..." Amanda couldn't compete with that. She persevered for a few more years, but the music that young boys wanted to learn to play became louder, stranger, darker. She closed her store, and moved back "home".

My band had actually gotten to the point of playing out a bit, one day we had a chance to attend a practice with a "name" local band, a band that had just put out a record. They let us play on their gear, and made some helpful comments and gave us words of encouragement. "So where are you guys from?" the lead guitarist asked. We told him and he immediately broken into a wide grin. "You bought your first strings from Amanda Bacon, right?" Half of that band had taken lessons from Amanda for years. "She taught us almost everything we know about guitar pickin'."

So Amanda was cool, hipper than me to be sure, and I bet that she would have even appeared cool to The Beatles, too (to George, at least.)

By Professor Batty



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