50 years later, homegrown music stores still make our dreams come true

It’s a magical place for kids like us. A place where you can go on a Saturday morning and become someone else, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Buddy Rich. When you dream about music, playing an instrument is the first step on the ladder of your fantasy. And here, you can have fun.

Anyone who wants to be a rock star knows what I’m talking about.

music store. Endless sparkling guitar line. A wall of megaphones, like fat sentinels with screens on their chests. Keyboard after keyboard, smiling at you with white and black teeth. And the drum set. Oh, the drum kit! Maybe if you just sit down and start tapping lightly and see if anyone notices, then hit a little harder, then hit the cymbal, then your foot, it’ll hit the top hat or the bass pedal, look here! You keep the beat!

That’s what music stores are all about. sneak into. Sample fantasy. No matter where it is, or what’s around it. Maybe a strip mall. Or converted barns. Or the shop next to the car wash. Or in crowded urban locations, where you have to climb steps to use various levels of instruments.

Every music store is different, every music store is the same. practice room. instrument. Every inch of space covered by amplifiers, cymbals, wires, microphones. In the corner was a long-haired boy playing “Stairway to Heaven”, head bowed, staring at his fingers.

For many Michiganders, that music store was — and still is — a store called Fraser Groesbeck’s Huber Breese Music, built 50 years ago from an 800 sq. ft. former laundry. Owners Paul Huber and Terry Breese taught music together at another closed store. So they collaborated and opened a small new place, and before you knew it, many teachers from the old shop were working there.

A band disbands. A new band form.

Start with a class

“The backbone of our store has been teaching,” said Huber, who celebrated its 50th anniversary this weekend. “At one point, we had as many as 600 students. The kids came to study, and the income was good, but there were also a lot of people walking around your store every day to buy musical instruments.”

In the beginning, Huber and Breese didn’t have the money to buy anything. “It wasn’t until a year later,” Huber said, that they started moving things.

But eventually, guitarist Huber and drummer Breese built a stock that made Jimi Hendrix jealous. They added space and more space, including the second level.

The guitar is their backbone. Today, they carry over 1,000 of them, ranging from wooden starter acoustic models to collectibles from manufacturers like Gibson and Les Paul.

They are also loaded with drums, keyboards, saxophone, trumpet, flute, strings and percussion. Today, all music stores have recording equipment for home studio use, and Huber and Breese are no exception.

But as Huber says, the heartbeat is still teaching. “We have kids who are 7 or 8 years old and of course teenagers. But there are also a lot of people who are older. They retire and say, ‘I always wanted to learn to play guitar.’” ”

They come in, dragging their suitcases. But they exited feeling easier because they were a little closer to their dream of playing well. That’s what differentiates a music store from other retail stores. Most stores, you go in and buy something.

music store you go to Yes something.

the beat continues

By now you’ve speculated that I’m one of those music store kids. When I was in fourth grade, I took guitar lessons in the cramped back room of a New Jersey store, and when I was done, I would wander around admiringly staring at the cool-looking teens in jeans and tie-dye shirts, playing Steppenwolf’s “Magic” with ease. Carpet Ride”.

If I got up my nerve, I’d find a corner, plug my guitar into various amps, and try a knob called “vibrato,” which produces a quavery sound that’s found in Tommy James & the Shondells’ “Crimson” and Clover” is famous. Later, when I became a pianist, I would try various keyboards and specific jazz pieces that I only remembered to play in a music store, not wanting to look like an amateur.

Even so, I’m nothing but average. But the point of those long aisles in a music store isn’t how good you are; it’s how good you can be.

Not surprisingly, Huber and Breese are musicians themselves, and both huddle together after they’ve done their work. Breese died shortly after performing with his musician friends 12 years ago. Huber, who always has long curly hair, looks like he’s still on tour with the Doobie Brothers, the soldiers paid tribute to his dear friend this weekend.

“Why Huber-Breese and not Breese-Huber?” I asked Paul.

“Terry used to ask the same thing,” he said with a laugh. Ultimately, they decided that “Huber-Breese” was more rhythmic, two syllables followed by a syllable, which was pretty much the perfect way to decide what to call a music store.

Paul Simon once wrote a lyric:

“It’s all the boys who come out early,

carry a soft guitar in a cardboard box,

all night long,

Do you want to know where those boys went? “

You don’t have to doubt. The voices of those boys and girls can still be heard in the rafters of stores like Huber Breese. sit down. Pick up a stick or guitar pick. Put your hand on the key. Play, man, play.

Contact Mitch Albom: [email protected]. Check out the latest updates on his charities, books and activities MitchAlbom.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchalbom.

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