by Ashley Lucas
There’s something sacred about a music shop to a musician. A good music shop can feel like going home; it can feel like a place you can be yourself, a place where your interests are common interests. In Roanoke, we’re lucky to have a couple of really great music shops, and 2017 saw the opening of a brand new one: Enjoyable Noises.
Located at 631 Campbell Ave. in downtown Roanoke, Enjoyable Noises is in a prime location for meeting one’s musical needs. Owner, Aaron Parker, a Berklee College of Music graduate, opened the shop in January 2017, after 15 years of working part-time at the recently closed Ridenhour Music in Salem. I visited Enjoyable Noises to speak with Aaron and his lovely wife, Jessica, to find out more about the store, and to do some shopping for myself!
“It is all a part of this music store culture we are trying to get away from. The culture that says women are only girlfriends, wives, or groupies.” – Aaron Parker, owner of Enjoyable Noises
First thing I noticed about Enjoyable Noises is that it’s more a “musical boutique” and less of the dark, dude-filled, dungeon-esque type of music store I’m used to. The front of the store is all windows and the natural light fills the room making the array of instruments and pedals gleam. Modern and simple, I felt welcomed and at home immediately. The retail side of the shop specializes in accessories and pedals, and most of the gear they carry is made from small or local manufacturers. From hand wound strings, to guitar straps made from old couches, to hand carved picks, to quirky modified instruments, there are things you can find at Enjoyable Noises that you won’t be able to find elsewhere in town. An Eastwood guitar dealer, Parker also sells Loog guitars, which are beginner instruments for children aged 3-7. Loogs only have the top three strings, which is easier for little hands to learn on, but all instruction is transferable to a six string when they’re ready.
Enjoyable Noises also offers lessons and repairs. According to Parker, repairs are booming at the moment due to the lack of people in Roanoke learning the trade. “A lot of people doing repairs in town have retired,” Parker said, which left a void for him to fill. Repairs start at $50/hour, lessons are a flat $75/month. And based on his Facebook reviews, he does an impeccable job caring for both instruments, and musical educations. It’s notable, but not surprising, that Enjoyable Noises has nothing less than 5-star ratings.
I HIGHLY recommend checking out Enjoyable Noises and getting to know the incredibly knowledgeable staff and the unique offerings.
Read what Parker has to say about how he came up with the name for the shop, his favorite item he sells, music store etiquette, his greatest musical accomplishments:
– What makes your shop different than others in the area?
“I believe that what sets us apart is that we consciously tried to make Enjoyable Noises very different from every other music store we have visited. We want to be a community hub. A place where you can try out gear without worrying whether or not your skills are flashy enough to impress the staff. Where you can ask questions, and get answers without a side of attitude. Where you can have totally weird and impractical modifications made to your gear, as well as simple maintenance and repairs. All performed with equal enthusiasm. All in an environment that feels comfortable and inviting. In short, we think making music should bring joy to your life and our goal is to help you achieve that whether your thing is playing classic rock or twisting knobs and creating sheets of sound.”
– Where did you get the name for your shop?
“The name, for me, is at its core about the fact that I simply enjoy noise. Whether I’m listening to bird songs outside my window, tapping my feet to the rhythm of the washing machine, putting on an old blues record, or checking out the latest atonal avant-garde, it’s all enjoyable to me. I love sound! And the shop is my way of nurturing that same passion in other people. Some people may not see the connection between something so conceptual and, for instance, repairing a damaged instrument. But for me, I am repairing that instrument so that the owner can get back to creating sound.”
– I’ve read about music store etiquette…is there really such a thing? Like absolutely no Stairway?
“There is such a thing but we don’t subscribe to it. It is not a tangible written rule book but rather something that has been passed down through generations of angry, unhappy, or misguided individuals. We think you should be able to play any song you want, especially if you are testing a piece of gear to see if it works with your playing style. To tell someone they can’t play a certain song, or use a pedal a certain way, etc; that is nothing more than a power trip. It is all a part of this music store culture we are trying to get away from. The culture that says women are only girlfriends, wives, or groupies. The culture that says this traditional way of doing things is the only way to do them. That nothing greater than what has come before will ever exist. And that this employee is the gate keeper and you must do what they say in order to be able to play.”
– What is your favorite item you sell in the store?
“It may sound strange but my favorite items right now are the Gabriel Tenorio Strings. They are beautifully handcrafted and kind of life changing. I have gotten quite a few local musicians addicted to them and everyone who has tried them loves them.”
– What musical accomplishment are you most proud of?
“I think most creative musicians will always say they are most proud of whatever they are working on currently. So for me the last Red Clay River record “A Thin Veil, Mixed Madness” was the latest project. I am also very proud of all the DIY touring I have done in the past and the fact that we always made it home and made enough money to eat. Perhaps most importantly though, I have met most if not all of my friends through music including my best friend, my wife Jessica. I’d take that over a Grammy or platinum album any day.”