Growing up in Cobb County, Ga, in the ‘70s I played in my various school bands and took drum lessons at the nearest music store, which was about 12 miles from home. Every Saturday morning, my mom would drop me off at the store and I would take my lesson. After, I got to hang around the store and mingle with the music store dudes and look at all the new, cool gear and sweet used stuff that came through the store. I remember vividly the Ludwig “Tivoli” acrylic drum set that came in, with the embedded lights in the drum shells. Outrageously expensive, that drum set stayed in the store’s front window for over a year and served as an amazing draw to bring folks into the store.
As a young adult, active in the Atlanta music scene during the early 80’s, the music stores in the area were in full “angry, frustrated rock-poser dude” mode, and it seems they had mostly lost their reason for being. Even the mom and pop shops were fronted by guys who looked down on everyone, and treated all with a sneer and a smirk, at best. This, I did not understand.
As my own playing moved more into hand and “ethnic” percussion, it became harder and harder to find anything for sale, beyond the most mundane, in the local stores. Eventually, I grew frustrated with my monthly rounds to the shops and started reaching out to importers and distributors, often buying 5 of a thing, and selling what I didn’t need to friends and students. This could be considered “the light bulb” moment, as it supported my drum addiction and was the genesis of Earthshaking Percussion, a mail-order only retailer of drums and stuff, which in a year or two, evolved into Earthshaking Music.
Concurrent with my entry into the world of “drum pusher”, I met my future bride, Lisa, who was not only supportive of my musical pursuits, but also provided professional quality graphic design skills and, a valuable balance on the business and financial side of things.
In the early days, we slaved over a paper catalog, with me staging and shooting all of the items we offered, using a Polaroid SX70 camera. Lisa scanned the images and created the pages in Quarkxpress. We purchased a very early (and very expensive) Apple laser printer (4/600) to output our pages. It often took over an hour for a page to print. Once we had a final layout, we took these pages to Kinkos to be scanned (no portable drives, media, or internet….) where the finished pages were printed. This process could take a day, or two, or more, depending on any number of magical, mysterious variables. Sooner or later, we had several thousand pages which we manually collated and stapled by hand. I remember our first label printing software which shaved days off the process of getting the catalogs in the mail. Pure joy!
To be continued….