MUSIC BOX: A Music Shop in the Amazon Age

By on May 17, 2016

Jackson Hole Music places community at the forefront of its business model.

Dave Rice is the insprired force behind Jackson Hole Music, the valley’s sole brick-and-mortar music shop.

Dave Rice is the insprired force behind Jackson Hole Music, the valley’s sole brick-and-mortar music shop. (Photo: Patrick Chadwick)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Even as a musician who supports the “buy local” ethos, I have frequently been guilty of buying my music gear online. Comprehensive ecommerce sites like Amazon, Musician’s Friend and Sweetwater pose a definite challenge to developing a lasting independent music shop. As Jackson’s only dedicated music store, Jackson Hole Music is built to thrive by focusing on what those sites can’t offer: community, in-depth knowledge, and a curated selection of instruments and gear.

Jackson Hole Music was launched last year by local musician and sound engineer David Rice, who purchased the remaining inventory of Melody Creek Guitars after the owners left the area to be closer to family. Knowing that a modern music shop is unlikely to survive on retail sales alone, Rice has made his personalized music lessons a major focus, recently moving his store to a larger adjacent space at 975 Alpine Lane, No. 5 in order to accommodate a practice area.

“Without lessons there would be no store,” Rice said. “A local music shop should be trying to do more than crazy amounts of sales on the Internet.”

Having taught guitar, bass and drums in Jackson Hole for a decade, Rice has seen firsthand how music can become a lifelong hobby, career, or at the very least an engaging summertime activity for local students. He instructed Otto Wieters and Dan Sanford of Jackson’s popular electronic/percussion duo Head to Head when they were still in middle school, and he continues to encourage and foster budding talent at his store. Earlier this month, Rice watched as one of his nine-year-old students sat mouth agape. The young music pupil had happened upon the end of a spontaneous lesson given by Nikki Glaspie, Beyoncé’s former drummer and a current Nth Power member.

“I want the store to bring musicians together for projects … to kind of make it more of a hub,” Rice noted. “Give out free coffee … have people hang out.”

A boon for local musicians currently living in their cars, the new practice space at Jackson Hole Music is also available for rent to bands, and Rice has extended the store’s services by renting out PA equipment and running sound for local gigs and events. Recognizing that area musicians tend to gravitate toward acoustic instruments, Jackson Hole Music has been selective in procuring an inventory of lesser-known yet higher-quality acoustic brands like Breedlove, Bedell, and Cordoba, in addition to classics like Guild and Weber.

Rice’s smart community focus will hopefully ensure that Jackson Hole Music never has to compete directly with online behemoths to stay afloat, but, regardless, the store matches Internet prices on all its brands’ products except for guitar strings. Not to mention, Amazon isn’t going to fix the action on your vintage acoustic guitar.

Bluesy soul at Songwriter’s Alley

Right: Pinedale duo Birdhunters bring early blues, soul, folk and electronic sensibilities to this week’s Songwriters Alley.

Pinedale duo Birdhunters bring early blues, soul, folk and electronic sensibilities to this week’s Songwriters Alley.

An open mic sponsored by Jackson Hole Music and occasionally hosted by Rice himself, Songwriter’s Alley is back for the spring with a new time: 7 to 10 p.m. every Wednesday at the Silver Dollar Bar. This week boasts a featured set from vocalist/ukulele player Samantha Rise and drummer/keyboardist Ryan Ptasnik, a duo from Pinedale dubbed Birdhunters that blends soul, folk and early blues with electronic instruments.

Sign-up starts at 6 p.m., and all participating performers receive 50 percent off their food bill and a chance to win a $25 gift certificate from Jackson Hole Music.

Songwriter’s Alley with featured artist Birdhunters, 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday at the Silver Dollar Showroom. Free. 732-3939.

SLC-branded folk rock

Usually we Jacksonites are the ones traveling to Salt Lake City to catch a good show. This weekend, however, the SLC-based June Brothers will bring their brand of folk rock and Americana to the Hole. The band’s warm vocal and instrumental harmonies helped it earn an honorable mention for best local album of 2014 from The Planet’s sister publication, Salt Lake City Weekly.

Salt Lake City sends up vocal and instrumental harmonies care of the five-piece June Brothers this weekend at the Silver Dollar.

Salt Lake City sends up vocal and instrumental harmonies care of the five-piece June Brothers this weekend at the Silver Dollar.

A five-piece act fronted by singer-songwriter Spencer Oberle, the June Brothers’ woodsy vibe is backed by Southern-rock-inspired instrumentation, making for a couple danceable nights at the Silver Dollar Showroom.

June Brothers, 7:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Silver Dollar Showroom. Free. 732-3939. PJH

A lover of sad songs in our happy valley, Patrick Chadwick is a singer-songwriter, guitarist and a content writer for local businesses.

160518Music_PlanetPicks

160518Music_PlanetPicks-2WEDnesday

KHOL Vinyl Night (The Rose)

Thursday

Major Zephyr (Silver Dollar); Salsa Night (The Rose)

Friday

June Brothers (Silver Dollar); Jazz Night with Pam Drew Phillips (The Granary)

Saturday

June Brothers (Silver Dollar)

Sunday

Stagecoach Band (Stagecoach)

Monday

The Jackson Hole Hootenanny (Dornan’s)

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