Meet First Street Napa

  1. Can you tell us about your background and experience in the music industry?

I started playing both acoustic and electric bass as a kid. I went to college in Illinois on a music scholarship, majoring in Commercial Music. Post-college I played bass professionally for a decade starting in Los Angeles, then Chicago and finally landing in Nashville where I toured with major-label country artists. I played for an artist named Ken Mellons. We were the opening act for Billy Ray Cyrus on the Achy Breaky Heart tour, which was quite the experience, playing  for thousands of people a night. 

  1. What inspired you to open a music store at First Street Napa?

I was looking for my “what’s next” after a long career as an executive in the publishing industry. One of the favorite times in my life was when I was able to shop at the Nashville music stores during the day and then play or attend a performance in the evening at the Blue Bird Café. Tonewood & Courage is founded on those memories. With Tonewood & Courage I’m hoping to recreate a bit of that feeling for myself, Napa’s musicians, and the entire community. First Street Napa is a great place to do this, as it has the perfect energy and vibe, along with free near-by parking at the Pearl Street Garage!

  1. How do you plan on creating a unique and inviting atmosphere at Tonewood & Courage?

With the help of a great and highly talented Napa-based team of builders, designers, loving family and friends. If I stay authentic to what resonates with me in the areas of look, feel, music and music making equipment, a sense of people, place and purpose in all of our offerings, the unique and inviting atmosphere of Tonewood & Courage will grow organically from the intersection of these elements.

  1. What types of music and performances can customers expect to experience? 

Americana music predominantly. Folk and bluegrass as well. Americana music is the type of music I often played and recorded in Nashville, working with some truly great singer-songwriter artists. There are people here creating this type of music. I’m hoping to attract them to our stage as well as bringing in friends of mine from Nashville when they are in the area. There is nothing like the feeling of experiencing the power of a great song sung by its writer in an intimate acoustic setting. Those soul-stirring experiences are at the core of the values of Tonewood & Courage. 

  1. How do you plan on supporting local musicians and artists in the community?

There will be performance opportunities on our stage of course. We’ll be offering various performance masterclasses along with other instrumental educational opportunities like songwriting classes and songwriting association meetings. Bluegrass nights with jam sessions. Mentoring and performance coaching when asked. We’ll be serving the community with the offerings from our retail store: no more long drives for the things you need to make great music. We’ll have a wide range of acoustically-oriented instruments in order to best fit your needs and skills without having to make an untried and risky purchase decision. We’ll be promoting to and attracting the local community to help support our local musicians.

  1. How will you curate the menu to complement the music experience at Tonewood & Courage?

Growing up in Chicago, you quickly learn that there is only one perfect food to accompany music: pizza. Our food offerings will be minimal, simple and fantastic. The drinks menu will reflect our beautiful little spot on the globe here in Napa, across the spectrum of non-alcoholic and adult libations. We’ve got some of the best drink options in the world right here at our doorstep so it makes sense that we will be very locally focused wherever we can. 

  1. How do you plan on attracting both music enthusiasts and casual visitors? 

My super-power is knowing these basic things: music attracts on its own when played well due to all of us being humans, enthusiasts and casual listeners alike, and music educates, entertains, and inspires. Now, imagine being in a place with a few hundred beautiful musical instruments that you can play yourself or that you can take home with you. Imagine sitting in that same space, surrounded by beautiful objects, while listening to an incredible performance of a truly great song. Musical instruments attract people because they are beautiful looking and sounding useful objects that feel great when held in your hand and music attracts people because it is a totally human invention that brings joy. So no worries on the attraction front. Tonewood & Courage is all about music in its many artistic and attractive forms: individually, and communally. 

  1. Can you share any success stories or memorable moments from your previous involvement in the music industry?

There are many, too many, to share here. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve played with and met many of my musical heroes. I became the publisher of the magazines I grew up reading and that helped me become a musician, Guitar Player and Bass Player. Stop by and I’m sure I’ll share more stories than you’ll probably want to hear! I set out at a relatively young age to L.A. with a dream, an electric bass, and a lot of courage. With hard work and some luck, I accomplished a lot of that dream and added to it by meeting the love of my life in Nashville, a California native, and building a family together here in Northern California. Tonewood & Courage is the next chapter in this thing we call life and I’m hoping the folks in Napa, residents and visitors alike, will join us in it. They are all welcome to be sure.