Keeping The Music Alive
Shreveport Music infused with new life, old memories
Respect the classics. For Shreveport businessmen and bandmates Jim Malsch and Ken Jacobs, that musician’s creed applies not only to the music but the music store.
The pair recently took over Shreveport Music. Nestled on Kings Highway among other Shreveport institutions like Strawn’s and Centenary College, Shreveport Music has been serving local musicians since 1910 with acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitars, drums, pianos and more.
Malsch and Jacobs are two of those musicians, and their personal history with the shop is part of the reason they took over one of the country’s oldest locally owned and operated music stores.
“They were close to shutting it down,” Malsch said. “It’s a shame to let a 109-yearold music store close. I started looking at it and approached Ken, who was a former bandmate of mine, and asked if he wanted to go into partnership with this. Everyone here is still passionate about it, so it was a no-brainer to keep it going.”
Malsch, who plays bass guitar, said he has shopped at Shreveport Music since he was 15 years old. He remembers when the store was next door to its current location, which once housed Centenary Hardware. Those memories fuel some of the goals Malsch and Jacobs have for Shreveport Music.
“It’s a warm and inviting environment,” Malsch said. “We want people to come here and sit down and play some vintage guitars they won’t find anywhere else in the region, some over 50 years old. We’re trying to revitalize it to where it once was.”
Jacobs has spent years playing and collecting guitars. He plans to share his passion for the instrument and the music with customers.
“One thing that I always wanted for Shreveport is to have a real music store,” he said. “I think my expertise is that I know really good gear, especially vintage gear. I know how to buy it. I know how to sell it. I know cool gear. That’s what I bring to it.”
The new owners also committed themselves to preserving another element of Shreveport Music’s legacy. They took all of the full- and part-time employees to lunch before buying the business to discuss their plans. After seeing the enthusiasm each team member had for their work, Malsch and Jacobs kept everyone on staff and promoted Starrbuck Langley to general manager.
“I think he’s our greatest asset,” Jacobs said of Langley. “He’s been here a while. He knows his stuff. He’s stepped up in a major way. He’s leading that team. Jim and I feel fortunate to have him and Donny (Opperman) and Phillip (Crews).”
Langley said the entire team was excited about the transition. “It was really a breath of fresh air to have two entrepreneurs step in who are lifelong musicians taking an interest in bringing it back to its heyday,” he said.
In his seven years with the company, Langley has met not only local musicians but acclaimed artists such as Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Vaughn and Dave Matthews in the store.
“Even before us, to have Billy Gibbons and other great musicians come through the doors,” he added. “It’s something that would have been heartbreaking to lose in this area.”
And while the new owners are keeping one eye on Shreveport Music’s past, they are focused on its future, too. Malsch said they are launching a website, adding free wi-fi, upgrading the telephones and improving the point-of-sale system to enhance the customer experience. They also will be updating the inventory to offer a variety of instruments for musicians at all skill levels.
Trent Beeman has been a Shreveport Music customer for 12 years. When he heard the store was under new ownership, he was eager to visit. He said he liked what he saw.
“I could definitely see an improvement,” he said. “What I always appreciated about Shreveport Music is that they had the more uncommon kinds of instruments, like Taylor guitars. That’s what I remember.”
Jacobs said the investment he and Malsch made in Shreveport Music is about more than guitars and amps.
“We both wanted to preserve and salvage such a historic institution,” Jacobs said. “It just happened to be a music store.”