Okay, picture this: it's the summer of 2022, we are in the midst of planning our 3rd LoCLE Grown Marathon at 88.3FM The Sting as we have for the last couple of years. If you're not privy to the Summer Marathon Series at 88.3 The Sting, every Thursday in the summer, a DJ will take over the airwaves and play 18 hours (from 7am to 1am) of the same artist. We here at LoCLE Grown wanted to do something similar but make it uniquely ours.
Enter: The LoCLE Grown Marathon, 16 hours of local artists back to back, one in person interview and performance each hour for 45 minutes, with 15 minutes to turn it over for the next artist hour. Freakin' crazy, we know.
So, we are a few weeks out and are ready for Year 3 to be just as fun and chaotic as the previous years, when we get a call from The Sting saying that for the first time in decades...the beloved radio station located above The Union at Baldwin Wallace is relocating to another building. There was still debate on whether it would be ready / workable during our marathon, so we held tight and hoped it would work out. Come 2 days leading up to the event, we are told it's a no-go, and that we will need to cancel/ postpone our 16 artists and marathon (insert very sad music here).
After about a 20 minute pity party, thinking all hope was lost, we devised a plan - a Hail Mary - to possibly still find a way to play this off instead of cancelling all of our artists. Laird reached out to the House of Blues, who was willing to donate their Cambridge Room. Jurbs hit up the artists about the relocation, and all but two of them were still able to make it happen. Now, all that we needed...was equipment. And lots of it.
Enter: A...Max Music in Akron.
A friend recommended A...Max Music to us as he had worked with them numerous times and said that they're the best and will get us everything we need, and boy was he right. The day before this 16-hour event full of uncertainty, we head into this wonderland that has musical instruments, equipment, lights - everything one would need to make an awesome show happen, and are met with a young professional named Haley. After explaining our dilemma and needs, she, with two music tech gurus beside her, work with us for over an hour to get us the equipment we need. We rent the equipment for a great price, and load up our car. They explain that whatever we want to keep they will just take from the rental deposit...incredible.
Long after the marathon, we kept coming back to A...Max because it started becoming home to us. Haley, who is a 4th generation descendant from the owner, is engrained in the local music scene, just like us. When we found our permanent studio at Rock & Roll City Studios, we went to A...Max to get the rest of the equipment we need. We recommend them to everyone we know who needs equipment, lights, monitors, instruments, ALL OF IT (sorry, not sorry Guitar Center). Check out more information from Haleybelow.
Mention/ show this blog article to the team at A...Max Music from 7/9/23-8/6/23 to receive 20% off everything in the store (exclusions apply)!
A...MAX MUSIC LTD. - Q&A with Haley Szemplak
Email: email@example.com Hours: 11-6 (Mon-Thurs) 11-5 (Friday/Saturday)
1. What is your name and position at A Max Music? How long have you been there?
My name is Haley Szemplak. I’ve been working at A Max Music since 2021. We are a family store and after my Grandpa passed away from COVID-19 I stepped up to help out. I am 4th generation and work with my Aunt Julie who is 3rd Generation.
PS. We are (as far as I know) the only female owned and operated music store in the Northeast Ohio area.
2. What is A Max Music? How long has it been around, and how are you associated with the company? A Max Music is a music store. We only sell instruments though, you have to make the actual music yourself. It’s a D.I.Y. thing, but I think its going to catch on. That being said we have a wonderful selection of new/used/vintage gear. As I mentioned earlier, we are a family business. The original Akron Music was started by my great grandfather after World War II and we’ve been serving the Greater Akron area for over 75 years. We went from door to door harmonica sales, to at one point having 5 stores and advertising nationally in Guitar Player Magazine. We are also proud to be members of NAAM (National Association of American Music). While we may only have one location now, we haven’t downsized at all when it comes to the products we carry or the excellent customer service you’ll receive from us.
3. Do you have any stories of really cool/ unique people you've helped at the store?
One of my favorite experiences was helping a little boy pick his first electric guitar out. He had to be about 8 years old, and had never heard of Jimi Hendrix. Well for me, that just wouldn’t do. I showed him Jimi performing the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock as well as a few other songs. But to me the most rewarding part was seeing his face while he took it in, and the realization dawn that he might be able to be like Jimi one day.
Another interesting customer of mine is actually a professor at the University of Akron. He came here from Africa and is an exceptionally talented percussionist. He showed me how to play the Djembe the right way, and performed some songs from his home country for me. It was beautiful.
Our store is located fairly close to North Hill which is considered to be Akron's International District. One of my more creative customers moved here from Nepal and is always on the hunt for materials to make drums. Specifically Dholaks and Tablas. Because these drums are not made in the US we supply him with goat skin heads and tabla lacing for his projects.
My customers are all amazing in their own ways, and they all have their own quirks. I have one customer who has at least 5 jokes lined up before he walks in the door, another who is constantly trading instruments for other instruments, a wonderful lady who comes in from time to time to shred our basses, and more! I could probably make a huge list of all the awesome people I get to meet and work with but I don’t think I have room.
4. What does the local music scene look like from your perspective?
The local music scene to me is like one big dysfunctional family and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyone knows everyone and if you haven’t met them yet you will, as long as you stick with it. Akron is a melting pot of genres, styles and flair, which makes the sound produced here unique.
Musicians have a way of finding other musicians. It’s always fun when I go out to shows and have the realization “oh I know that guy!” A majority of the time I don’t see my customers outside of the store. When I do, and I get to see them perform it makes me unbelievably proud. Having a relationship them as people first and performers second is important to me.
Going back to what I said about family though, overall the scene here is really supportive and nurturing. If you want to learn and grow there is an abundance of advice to be found, and help to be had. A lot of us (musicians) are at 9-5 or dead-end jobs doing absolutely everything we can to keep making music. That dream and hope and need to express ourselves unites us all. You can really hear that reflected in a lot of the music that leaves the area.
5. What does A Max Music specialize in? What should musicians know about A Max Music?
We pride ourselves on having the areas largest selection of world class, fine-quality, new and pre-owned equipment. Pianos, digital pianos, guitars, amps, drums, band & orchestra instruments, P.A. & karaoke sound. Sound systems for church, school, club, lighting, sound system installation etc…we also provide installation service and consultation! We have what you’re looking for, and we’ll make sure you’re not only taken care of but that you get a great deal too!
Ps. If we don’t have it, trust me when I say we can get it. We love doing special orders (: