By Aileen Duncan

Illustration by Benjamin Woodyard

A music community is created by artists, businesses, not-for- profits, and a host of other organizations.

‘Beyond the Music’ profiles organizations involved in the industry to explore the role they play in supporting music.

Dave’s Drum Shop has been supplying the neighbourhood with drum kits and accessories since 2007, but there has been music on this particular corner of Centertown since well before then. The music shops on Bank and Gladstone have become part of the fabric of the neighbourhood, a trend that has continued for over 30 years.

Dave Dudley has been in this business for awhile. He used to work for Songbird Music, a music store on that block, lively because everyone who worked there was active in the music scene.
“When you play music, the only place you really want to work is a music store,” says Dave.
Songbird eventually closed its doors and shortly after Dave’s Drum Shop and Spaceman Music opened. While the two stores are not affiliated—aside from a shared history and a close proximity to one another—the relationship seems symbiotic. Together they supply the bands that we hear practicing in Centertown basements, making the streets a little more lively as we walk by.

Dave has gotten to know much of his clientele.

“Probably 80 per cent of your business is repeat customers. There are components [of drums] that you use a lot, you go through them quickly. It depends on how much you play, and like any musical instrument, you get addicted to trying new things and experimenting,” he says.

That’s a sentiment that seems to carry over to his equipment stocking decisions. Rather than re-ordering all the same wares, Dave keeps a healthy variety of sources. He often buys from different manufacturers when he needs new stock.

Dave is also connected to local makers and even tries to purchase equipment locally, for example from Jordan Gauthier, founder of YC Drum Company. He noted that much of the market is driven by demand for larger, established companies, and people hoping to break into this industry should be aware of that.

“It’s a very brand-driven industry. I tell a lot of guys that make their own drums that you have to really market yourself,” he says.

As a result, he sells limited gear that is produced locally, but there are many ways to support a scene.

Dave frequently holds drum clinics, which are typically educational demonstrations of a drumming technique by an influential musician. He has hosted events across the city, including Raven Street Studios in Carlington, the Dom Polski Center on Waverly St, and even a clinic in partnership with Arboretum festival in the shop’s back parking lot!

That’s the beauty of a community—we all support each other. Dave’s Drum Shop is a family owned, micro-enterprise, which means they have less than 5 employees.

Aside from Dave, “there’s Matt, and my son started recently. My wife comes in on the weekends to help with the books.”

They are set up in a small home, and it feels appropriate for the welcoming atmosphere. Describing his store as “quirky,” Dave has sensed a shift in recent years away from big-box stores selling generic goods.

“People are gravitating towards locally-owned boutique stores. When people know that it’s family owned, that’s the icing on the cake. Individual stores have character.”

At the end of the day, we define our experiences in this city by the lives we live.

“[Community is] diversity, people getting along, enjoying themselves and doing what they do,” Dave says. “For the most part community is just about everyone getting along, and accepting each other, and creating. Not only music . . . just creating.”