Jim Malsch and Ken Jacobs are the new owners of venerable Shreveport Music Company, says entrepreneur Malsch.
As in much of American retail, there is a Youree Dr. business monster to be reckoned with. The old school Shreveport Music will continue to compete against a high-powered, integrated national chain, Guitar Center.
Yet they are not direct competitors. “GC is more of the Wal-Mart / big box version of a music store,” says Jacobs.
What’s the strategy for survival on E. King’s Hwy? “We are going to offer something no other store in this region possesses: vintage and boutique guitars and amps,” says Jacobs.
The new owners know the luxury market. Jacobs is a businessman and guitar player best known for his fiery blues leads with Pocket Change. Malsch is an investor in local real estate and a regular on bass at the Red River Brewing jams.
Breedlove Guitars, a boutique manufacturer in Oregon, is one of the high-end lines of acoustic guitars available.
Used hand-made amps such as 65 Amps, Dr Z, Mesa Boogie, Grammatico, Little Walter and Soldano are in the house. There’s even a Cornford, a legendary British amp no longer being manufactured. Ordinarily, consumers who want to get acquainted with such products have to spend time in a major city.
Don Teach ran Shreveport Music for decades. “Shreveport Music Company was established in 1910, making it one of the oldest businesses in the Ark-La-Tex, and one of the oldest music stores in the country,” he says.
“In 1961 my father, Jack Teach, purchased Shreveport Music and opened a new store downtown as a Hammond Organ and piano dealer. I literally grew up in the business, learning the technical aspects of pianos, Leslie speakers, and Hammond organs, skills that came in handy as the business expanded from pianos and organs to guitars, basses, and PA systems.”
Teach knows the business from from straightening a guitar neck to evaluations of manufacturers.
Over the decades Shreveport Music catered to working musicians. Not only did it carry industry-standard gear, it did its best to back up players when they burned up a speaker or damaged a mic. When a major concert arrived at Hirsch Coliseum or at any large venue, Teach and team were likely to be supplying the ‘back line,’ or amps, fx and mics needed for a professional show.
Today Teach has left the room in regards concert sound. He is happily engaged in restoring vintage player pianos.
The store’s legacy seems strong. “Shreveport Music is where my daddy always went and where he bought my guitar 40 years ago this Christmas. Sure hope these guys keep the place going!” said Snoopy Conly.
Says solo recording artist Ron Johnson – also founder and player in Windstorm – “Most of everything I’ve bought – amps, keys, PA’s – have been from Shreveport Music; well, from owner Don Teach.”
Bob Critcher, guitar collector as well as guitarist-singer with Deserters of the Alamo, has bought 10 or more guitars from the shop over the years. “Providing access to gear is very important,” says Critcher, “for both mature players as well as those coming up. Young players need to see and be inspired by high-quality gear.”
Reminded that his staff is all male and white in a city whose demographics no longer reflect that profile, Malsch laughs and responds: “We hope to grow with the city. And we will employ people of all shapes, color and sizes!’
In the photo: Malsch, Larry Gordy, Don Opperman, Starrbuck Langley, and Phlilip Taylor Crews. Also on the team are James French, Jacob Butler and Joe Nadeau, says Gordy. Ask for lessons by eminent player Jimi Johnson or Tony Reyes or Ryan Horton.
Parking in front at 115 Kings Hwy is piffle compared to the parking behind the building.