Is­land Mu­sic to cel­e­brate 10 years in busi­ness Oct. 6

Maryland Independent - - Business - By CAROL SMITH csmith@somd­

Is­land Mu­sic Com­pany, lo­cated at 403 Charles St. in La Plata, is set to cel­e­brate a decade in the mu­sic busi­ness from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Satur­day, Oct. 6. The store event will fea­ture a one-day sale, live mu­sic, give­aways, raf­fles and a chance to win a Paul Reed Smith gui­tar with a free les­son from Is­land Mu­sic.

Is­land Mu­sic spe­cial­izes in hard-to find, rare and vin­tage in­stru­ments, and car­ries a full line of new and used mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, au­dio, record­ing and light­ing equip­ment, ac­ces­sories and more. The store also of­fers in­stru­ment and equip­ment ser­vice, re­pair and rentals, record­ing and sound con­sul­ta­tion ser­vices, pri­vate mu­sic lessons, and hosts monthly jam ses­sions and other spe­cial mu­sic events.

The hus­band-wife team of Keith and Nicki Grasso said it was their pas­sion for the busi­ness and a de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed that led them to open their first Is­land Mu­sic re­tail lo­ca­tion on Oct. 6, 2008.

“Nicki was my fi­ancé at the time,” Keith Grasso said. “We opened in a lit­tle 10-by-12 room on Charles Street … it prob­a­bly had maybe 15 gui­tars and my per­sonal col­lec­tion, some lit­tle trin­kets and things of that na­ture.”

“We re­ally opened it be­cause, with the ex­cep­tion of one year off, be­ing in the mu­sic busi­ness is all I have ever done in my life since I was 15 years old,” Keith said. “One of my first jobs was work­ing in a small mu­sic store. I’ve just al­ways loved it, be­ing around mu­sic and mu­si­cians.”

“Peo­ple used to give us a hard time be­cause I think it was one of the worst time pe­ri­ods for the econ­omy since 9/11,” Keith added. “I think the day that we opened, the stock mar­ket fell 10,000 points … I just knew that I liked mu­sic and wanted to be around the busi­ness and the in­dus­try.”

Three moves and ten years later, Is­land Mu­sic has since grown into a busi­ness that oc­cu­pies 8,500 square feet of space stocked with a floor-to­ceil­ing in­ven­tory of in­stru­ments, equip­ment and ac­ces­sories that in­cludes new and used name­brand elec­tric gui­tars, acous­tic gui­tars, bass gui­tars, ped­als, or­ches­tra and band in­stru­ments, ban­jos and folk in­stru­ments, ukule­les, drums and per­cus­sion in­stru­ments, key­boards and con­trollers, am­pli­fiers, pro­fes­sional sound, record­ing and light­ing equip­ment, and ac­ces­sories.

“As we grew, we started grow­ing into other things,” Keith said. “We got into the school mu­sic pro­gram fairly early. We do a lot of rental in­stru­ments, and try to sup­port the Charles County band, or­ches­tra and per­form­ing arts pretty good … we got into drums when we got across the street here and had a lit­tle bit more space, and pro au­dio and record­ing.”

“An­other big thing that re­ally set us apart early on is that we got into ser­vice work,” he said. “We have a re­pair shop right here in the store, and any­thing that we sell, if you have a prob­lem with it, we’re here to stand be­hind it and help you get it fixed.”

Is­land Mu­sic also of­fers 30- and 60-minute pri­vate in­stru­ment lessons for mu­si­cians of all ages and lev­els of play­ing abil­ity. The Gras­sos said lessons are taught one-on-one by qual­i­fied in­struc­tors in one of Is­land Mu­sic’s seven mu­sic les­son rooms.

“We do lessons in just about ev­ery in­stru­ment,” Nicki Grasso said. “We work re­ally hard to find top mu­si­cians in the county that are good at teach­ing and work­ing with kids and adults.”

“Two times a year, we do big stu­dent recitals where all of our stu­dents get up,” Keith added. “We do a Christ­mas one, so they work all fall to come up with these songs and per­form them in front of their par­ents and their peers … and we do a big spring recital.”

Keith said Is­land Mu­sic also spe­cial­izes in sound, record­ing and light­ing equip­ment, and can pro­vide sys­tem de­sign, in­stal­la­tion and train­ing ser­vices ac­cord­ing to a cus­tomer’s needs.

“I think we’re one of the only folks in the area that will come out and de­sign a sound sys­tem specif­i­cally to your venue or what you need,” he said. “We do ev­ery­thing in terms of de­sign it, cal­i­brate it, in­stall it, and trou­bleshoot an ex­ist­ing sys­tem.”

Is­land Mu­sic’s up­com­ing an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion on Satur­day, Oct. 6, will co­in­cide with the town’s fifth an­nual Rock­to­ber­fest, a fam­ily-friendly mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment street fes­ti­val pre­sented by the La Plata Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion in part­ner­ship with Is­land Mu­sic. Keith said pro­ceeds from Rock­to­ber­fest will ben­e­fit the Charles County Pub­lic Schools fine and per­form­ing arts pro­grams.

“It’s re­ally a nice day and it re­ally brings the com­mu­nity to­gether,” he said. “It spot­lights mu­sic and Charles Street, and our busi­ness dis­trict in par­tic­u­lar.”

“Last year’s dona­tion to the school sys­tem’s fine and per­form­ing arts was $28,000,” he added. “So that goes to help their pro­gram and bet­ter their pro­gram.”

Keith said he cred­its much of Is­land Mu­sic’s suc­cess over the years to the store’s core group of long-term em­ploy­ees that “bring new ideas and a pas­sion to the busi­ness ev­ery­day,” and that he looks to grow the store’s mu­sic les­son pro­gram and on­line pres­ence in the fu­ture.

“We want to be a part of your mu­si­cal jour­ney no mat­ter what phase you are in,” Keith said. “Whether we’re teach­ing you lessons, sell­ing you a new in­stru­ment, fix­ing some­thing that you need re­paired, help­ing you trade in to your next in­stru­ment, or even giv­ing you places to per­form.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on Is­land Mu­sic Com­pany, and the store’s prod­ucts, ser­vices and up­com­ing events, go to­land­mu­s­


Pic­tured are Nicki and Keith Grasso, own­ers of Is­land Mu­sic Com­pany lo­cated on Charles Street in La Plata.

Pic­tured are acous­tic gui­tars of­fered at Is­land Mu­sic Com­pany lo­cated on Charles Street in La Plata.

Pic­tured are elec­tric gui­tars of­fered at Is­land Mu­sic Com­pany lo­cated on Charles Street in La Plata.

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