Macon Music in Ingleside Village seems destined to be a hotspot. Vintage guitars line the walls, waiting to be plucked by patrons to buy, try or just jam with friends.
The owners are seasoned musicians, and they offer lessons to aspiring players. They also plan to turn the spotlight on local talent with performances on the shop’s listening room-style stage.
The first show was Saturday, and more are in the works. But chances are good that if you drop by anytime there’ll be some music being made.
“A spontaneous jam could break out anywhere, and we encourage that,” said owner Scott Pallot, a former stage and studio musician in Nashville who ran the old Backbeat Music store in Macon.
Never miss a local story.
Pallot and partners Travis Bryant and David Andell opened the shop at 2389 Ingleside Ave. two months ago. Pallot said he was constantly reminded by former customers how much they missed his old store. They had even launched a “Bring Back Backbeat Music” movement on Facebook.
“With the influx of Internet sales, we couldn’t really compete, so we ended up closing,” said Pallot. “When Travis and I began talking about opening a store, we knew we had to come at it from a different angle.”
That’s how the idea for the listening room came about.
“We won’t make any money on the shows. It benefits us because people can come in here and see what we have,” Pallot said.
The listening room will offer music lovers a chance to experience their favorite acts in a different way.
“Everyone has their favorite musician they like to go hear at nightclubs or whatever,” said Pallot. “When you’re in a listening room, and people are not talking and they’re really paying attention to the performer, the performer feels that energy. They tend to bleed and give back that much more. It’s like hearing them for the first time.”
Pallot and partners wanted to bring a fresh approach while re-creating the laid-back spirit of Backbeat. The rear of the store includes a den-like sitting room, complete with a recliner and fireplace, geared mainly for parents to wait while their kids take lessons.
“We want to be a place you can come and hang out. It’s not like a shopping experience; it’s more like a learning experience,” said Pallot.
Creating an atmosphere
Steve Draper, a customer of Pallot’s for 15 years, said he’s more than a little excited about the new store. Draper is a Macon police sergeant who lives and works in the neighborhood.
“I’m stoked, especially about what he’s talking about doing with the listening room. My wife and I already have tickets. They just don’t have anything like that in Macon,” he said.
Draper, a California transplant, might not be in a band anymore, like in his younger days, but the band’s still in him. One morning last week, he sat around the store, strumming an acoustic guitar.
“You come down here and grab a guitar, and somebody else comes in. The next thing you know you’re sitting with them, playing.”
That, say Pallot and Bryant, is just the sort of atmosphere they want at Macon Music. The store will sell mostly vintage instruments, many of them on a consignment basis. Some of the current stock includes lots of Fenders and Gibsons, a 1930s hollow-body electric guitar, a 1962-63 Gibson Scout amplifier and a series of older Fender amps that Pallot calls “real jewels.”
Items in the center of the store’s main floor are on roll-away displays, so they can be wheeled to the back to make way for seating for the shows.
Drums, keyboards and more equipment are featured near the rear of the showroom, across from the sitting area. There’s plenty of room for expansion, Pollat and Bryant point out. One room is used for storage for school band instruments, and more space in the back will be sectioned in glass, sound-proof walls for teaching sessions.
And downstairs, there’s another whole floor that they hope to use for a recording studio or rehearsal area.
The sitting area has a comfy feel to help parents kick back while waiting during music lessons. The room has been dedicated to Pallot’s former business partner at Backbeat, Pat Patterson, who passed away last year.
“We both had an interest in motorcycles and music,” Pallot recalled. “We’ll hang some of his guitars in here. It’ll be ‘Pat’s Sitting Room.’ ’’
Pallot and Bryant clearly are most excited about the listening room. Performances will be recorded on DVD from four camera angles -- they even built a camera mount on the ceiling, as well as lighting fixtures. PA speakers mounted at the rear of the room will allow the performer to hear what the audience hears, rather than feedback from monitors.
Pallot modeled the listening room after Nashville’s Bluebird Café, which he played several times, including with country songstress Crystal Gayle.
Some of his work is music for use by his brother, Flip Pallot, on his brother’s outdoor TV shows, which have included “Saltwater Angler” on TBS and “Walkers Cay Chronicles,” which aired for 16 years on ESPN.
The 62-year-old Miami native, however, ranks his two solo albums above all his studio and stage collaborations. In 1992 and 1994, he released under the name “Scooter” two children’s CDs: “Miles of Smiles,” a collection of environmental songs, and “Calling All Children,” which he says was all about fun.
Both were nominated for Grammys.
“If you’re driving to Disney, would you like to listen to the Chipmunks for five hours? We made good songs for children, good songs for parents. We did jazz, rap, covered all the genres.”
Kids might be the toughest audience Pallot has ever faced.
“If you can hold them for 30 minutes, you’re doing something. That’s probably the most rewarding thing I’ve done in music.”
Bryant, 31, plays guitar in local band Stoop Grass. He’s been playing for 15 years, but this is his first venture into entrepreneurship. That’s not to say he has no experience in music shops.
“I used to live at his store,” he said, pointing to Pallot.
At Macon Music, electric guitars are on one wall, facing the wall of acoustics. That might seem like perfect territories for Pallot, who favors acoustic, and his younger partner, Bryant, who prefers electric.
“I’m the electric guy. He’s the acoustic man,” said Bryant, breaking into a grin. “ ‘Acoustic Man and Electric Guy’ ... it could be a comic book.”
To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.