Thirty-five years of slugging it out and bringing local working musicians what they need will come to an end in February of 2011 when Steve and Chris Liethen close Good-n-Loud Music.
The store got its start in 1976 when Steve Liethen, a sound engineer at the the time, decided he’d had enough of traveling to Chicago and St. Louis for the gear he needed. He and partner Pete Botts began building speaker cabinets and mixers out of a basement, soon changing the name of the business from Roadgrator to Good -n-Loud. In 1990 Steve’s wife Chris joined as a partner in the business.
Good-n-Loud operated from the corner of Gorham and Broom (now occupied by Silver Mine Subs) for many years before moving to their location at 5225 University Avenue. A second location was opened on Atwood Avenue but was downsized a short time later, a series of events that would continue to plague them for years.
Like all music supply retailers, Good-n-Loud was hit hard by the online revolution and by cheap, big-box chains like the Guitar Center, forcing them to rely more and more on lesson programs. An era where even Best Buy and Wal-Mart sell guitars and where used instruments are bought and sold in cyberspace has finally spelled doom for the business.
Over the years Steve and Chris have been more than music suppliers. They’ve been strong community supporters. They were the first business to step up and become sponsors of the Madison Area Music Awards and have been involved with that organization ever since, even serving on the Board of Directors. I’ll never forget the sight of the thirty guitars they donated to the Madison School District being lowered down from the pipes in the Union Theater. It was such a special and generous gift, even while their struggles were mounting.
They’ve sponsored countless other movements, publications, events and charities and, while the loss of the retail outlet puts a sad period at the end of a long statement, it’s the generous outpouring of concern and support by the Liethens that will truly be missed in the music community.
The Liethens are going to put a fitting end to their career in the retail music business by hosting a celebration where they hope to bring in as many former teachers and employees as possible. They are currently looking for a venue to host that poignant occasion and we’ll pass the news along as it becomes available.
In the meantime, nearly all working musicians, past and present, owe it to the Liethens to make a stop in to the store, make one last purchase from them, or just give them a call to thank them for their years of service to the community.