New music store strikes a note with community
Like the pitch-perfect harmony of your favorite song, circumstances have melded together to bring New Canaan the right kind of music professionals at the right time.
New Canaan Music already is proving to be a great addition to a community, which was lacking in a music shop, especially with the recent closing of Norwalk Music.
"There's no one really around and we thought there was a big need that can be met here," said Phil Williams, a New Canaan resident who, for several years now, has dreamed of opening up a music shop.
Instruments, equipment, lessons, repair and lots of friendly feedback about all things relating to music -- that's what one finds at the new shop, 72 Park St., which is somewhat secretly situated in the short alley on the north side of Elm Street, near the train station.
"We're really excited to be here in New Canaan," said Williams, who with his wife, Amy, has two children, Lily and Bailey, and originally hails from New Jersey and Virginia, respectively.
"Prior to this, I was in TV production," he said, as well as business management in the TV production area. He headed finance for several operations, and, among other endeavors, was involved with Montel Williams' and Rachael Ray's television shows.
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"But I always played music on the side," he said, starting with guitar, and learning a variety of other instruments as well.
He plays in a band called The Scavengers, as well as doing acoustic sets with his friend and part-time employee Jim O'Neill.
For a long time, while commuting into the city, Williams thought about combining his business acumen with his first love -- music. Everything seemed to fall in place this summer and by the beginning of July, New Canaan Music was up and running.
"It was obviously a big leap of faith. I was obviously sick of what I was doing," Williams said, referencing all the "petty corporate stuff" he has happily put behind him.
"Everyone who comes here says, `This is great,'" said O'Neill, who recently joined Williams for a fun promotional set at nearby Aetheria Relaxation Spa, 121 Cherry St., in honor of its 10th anniversary -- an acoustics set the two hope to replicate at other venues around town. "There hasn't been a music store here in I don't know how long."
Offering the full range of instrument rentals, Williams gives big praise and thanks to the New Canaan Public Schools for recommending his new store as the place to get equipped for bands and orchestras.
"The schools have really been encouraging and supportive," he said. "They helped us get a good start out of the gate."
With the amount of clientele continuing to blossom, he said, "We've gotten a lot of local support."
"We probably did upwards of 200 instruments," he said of the first wave of rentals and purchases, followed by numerous private lessons through the shop, which employs the teachers for a variety of instruments, taught in one of its three rehearsal rooms.
Word of mouth is proving to be the best advertising, and consequently Williams hopes they'll continue to establish themselves as an important part of the town.
"I hope it's something we can add to the community," he said.
The store's hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call 203-920-1800 or visit www.newcanaanmusic.com.
Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.