Music to Southport’s Ears
Casey and Casey Townsends’ Waterway Music and Education makes a splash in Southport.
On a Saturday afternoon a week after Waterway Music’s opening in April 2021, the door keeps flying open as customers drift in with a wide range of requests and interests. One woman drops off her husband’s guitar for repair. Another browses the store and finally asks about tambourines. A set of parents sign up their daughter for a summer session of guitar lessons.
Kirsten, a banjo player new to North Carolina, wanders in asking about repairing or replacing her broken instrument. She is excited to find several banjoes displayed on the string instrument wall. At the owners’ urging, she takes one down for a closer look. Within a few minutes she has pulled up a chair and jumped into a banjo roll that stops all business, conversation and movement. When she finishes to her fellow customers’ enthusiastic applause, she announces, “I’m so happy you’re here!”
As more residents and visitors to Southport learn about this little gem on Long Beach Road, they will also be very happy that Waterway Music is here. With plenty of parking and easy access, it is an inviting venue. It is a business that will be open to the artistic and musically talented performers in the area as well as those who want to just start something new. It can be a place to talk about music, learn to play music, have instruments repaired and tuned, and maybe even jam.
As a sign in the front window proclaims: “Music communicates what words cannot.”
The owners, Mr. Casey and Ms. Casey Townsend (her maiden name is also Casey Townsend), invite customers to sample some of the guitars, electric keyboards, violins, ukuleles or drum sets on display. These personable owners encourage the hands-on experience buyers can’t get shopping online.
The Townsends are just beginning the fulfillment of their dream to open a music store and education center to meet the needs of Southport/Oak Island and Brunswick County. Mr. Casey, an accomplished musician on several instruments, has all the qualifications to provide lessons from beginner to advanced. He specializes in guitar instruction and holds a degree in classical guitar.
Ms. Casey has studied education, culture and language. Musically, she offers studio lessons in guitar and electric bass at the beginner level. The painted sign on their front window lists the instruments available for instruction: piano, guitar, bass, drums and violin. It leaves off the passion for music beyond that door.
As parents, the Townsends are buoyant and enthusiastic about their daughters and their new business. The hard work and planning for Waterway Music takes them into private business after spending years sharing their musical talents in a local church ministry.
Although the store officially opened in mid-April 2021, their business plans began forming several months ago when they found the site for the store just behind the “golden arches” in Southport. While they hoped to open earlier, delays ensued due to COVID-related restrictions on inspections and worker schedules. While waiting, they launched Waterway Music on Facebook and advertised music lessons via Zoom. Through word of mouth and contacts in the area, Mr. Casey’s lesson schedule quickly filled, resulting in a waiting list for lessons. A summer schedule of crash courses in private lessons became available when the store opened.
The Townsends feel that to be successful, Waterway Music must become both a retail store and a lesson center/music academy. As Ms. Casey expands her guitar instructional program, she is picking up student groups. She is especially excited to be teaching what she calls “an all- girls guitar band of second graders.”
She shares her thoughts on what she believes prevents children from learning an instrument: “Many children are overcommitted and don’t have time to learn,” she says. “Another obstacle can be cost and transportation to the lessons.” In her future plans, she hopes to find ways to reach more children and share her music.
Musical interests run in all directions with the Townsends, as evidenced by Mr. Casey’s private choice of music. Although he can find peace and tranquility in the serenity of Mozart, his other extreme exists in the lyrics and rhythm of metalcore groups. He pays special attention to the lyrical messages and intricate mathematics of these compositions. Ms. Casey finds personal relaxation and enjoyment in a genre of worship music.
Local friends of the Townsends who have helped launch the business include their long-time friend Jason Pullin from Sound Evolutions, Southport’s top live sound production company.
Sound Evolutions supplies Waterway with PA equipment such as microphones, speakers and wireless equipment. All of these items are for sale at the store.
Another invaluable member of the Waterway launch team is Doug Ausbury from Silver City Design in Southport.
His company specializes in web design and mentoring start-up businesses. Ausbury is also supplying the amazing record selection offered at Waterway Music.
At present, Waterway Music provides sales information, instrument repairs, private instruction and a wide array of microphone cables, stands and general music supplies.