Shop Talk: Catching Up with Blue Eagle Music’s Frank McDermott

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Frank McDermott had no intention of owning a music store when he came to Athens, but has owned Blue Eagle Music on Court Street since 2006.

“Initially I taught guitar and worked at Blue Eagle. When the opportunity to purchase the shop came up in 2006, I bought it,” McDermott recalled. “I never did have any interest in, or intention to own, a music store, but sometimes life throws you a bone.”

When he came to Athens in 1995 from West Chester, Pa., his goal was to buy a chunk of land and perhaps an old farmhouse and live back in the woods.

“The farmhouse never showed up, but the land did. So with no prior experience, I learned how to build a house,” McDermott said.

Besides selling musical instruments, he also plays them.

“I sit in with Rattletrap at Casa on Monday nights generally, but I’m not officially in any band currently,” McDermott said. “I’m a classical guitarist, and that’s primarily what I work on in addition to composing for various instruments and groups.”

Here’s how he responded to some questions:

Q: Besides a livelihood, what has music meant your life?

A: It is first and foremost my passion. It has been my creative outlet and continues to fully engage me after more than 40 years.

Q: Can anyone play a musical instrument?

A: Anyone can — and should — play a musical instrument. It’s very good for your brain, your dexterity and often your sanity. It is easier for some than others. Like any endeavor — sports, engineering, poetry, etc. — some people are “naturals.” That doesn’t matter. What matters is engagement and enjoyment at your level. I was not, am not, a “natural.” I was, however, totally engaged and entranced by music, and found it to be no effort at all to work for hours at a time learning to play.

Q: Are there songs or bands that, when you hear them on the radio, you automatically turn up the volume?

A: Lots of bands and songs. I started out playing rock guitar for many years, and my formative genre is late ’60s mid-’70s classic rock. Almost anything from that era will cause me to reach for the volume knob. Lots of earlier and later stuff as well…”

Q: When it comes to music, do you have any guilty pleasures? You’re not a secret Justin Bieber fan are you?

A: I don’t know if you saw this Facebook post going around — first frame was a pic of Biber claiming that the gods sent him down to bring us music. Second frame was an early pic of the members of Led Zeppelin. The caption — NO WE DIDN’T. Not a Beiber fan. I am, however, a fan of the fantastic voice of Karen Carpenter!

Q: Do you have non-music hobbies?

A: Gardening, junkin’ (antiquing), hiking and woodlot improvement in my woods.

Q: What do you like best about living in Athens County?

A: Having the “best of both worlds.” Working in town and the socialization that that brings, and then retiring to the peace and quiet of the woods. I don’t have TV or computer access at home by choice.

Q: If there was one thing you could change about Athens County, what would it be?

A: The Nelsonville bypass took care of that!