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Marking a Milestone

Houze celebrates 25 years
with Crawdaddy Music

His store offers new and
used instruments, and music lessons

By Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(December 2012) – Whether you are looking to upgrade from a beat up banjo, or looking for a vintage guitar from a master craftsman, or have just always wondered what a ukulele sounds like in person, Crawdaddy Music is the place to go.
For owner Rob Houze, music has been part of his life since he was a child. “I’ve always loved instruments,” he says. “I’ve played all my life, and I’m 60 years old. I started playing gigs when I was 10.”
He followed up on his youthful talent and went on to study music at Berkeley and in Boston. In Boston he worked in a music store where he gained business experience buying and selling instruments. He brought this experience back to Madison, Ind., and began offering quality new and used instruments, repairs and lessons at his own store, located at 130 E. Main St.

Donna and Rob Houze

Photo by Patti Watson

Dawn and Rob Houze on
Nov. 18 marked 25 years in
business for Crawdaddy
Music in Madison.

“New or old or used, I kind of buy what I like,” he says. “I believe in my product. That makes it easier rather that just selling what they send me.”
On Nov. 18, Crawdaddy Music celebrated its 25th year of business in Madison with on open house welcoming old and new customers to celebrate a quarter century of success. As he reflects on the past years of business, Houze notes that “There’s been lots of changes, mostly due to the Internet.”
He also laughs, saying that the other big change has been the size of his store, which started out as one room on the top floor and over time growing to take over all the upstairs and downstairs space. Houze points to location as a part of the key to the store’s success saying, “We’re centrally located,” and that allows him to draw customers from Louisville, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
While the store offers new instruments, many customers are looking for items that have stood the test of time and have proven themselves in the hands of other musicians.
“I’ve always sold vintage instruments. They’ve gotten stronger as time goes on,” says Houze. “The instruments made in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s were great instruments,” he says. He notes that buyers appreciate the craftsmanship that can be found in the older pieces but also explains that there is a demand for exotic woods that are no longer available in instruments being produced today due to increasing regulation and deforestation.
For those looking for a true antique, Houze offers, “I have a violin that’s 200 years old” and also has some guitars and bass fiddles from the 1800s.
Houze prides himself on catering to musicians of all levels, whether they are picking up an instrument for the first time or are looking for something to play on their next album. “I’ve sold instruments to some famous people over the years,” he says.
Some of his customers have included the Kingston Trio and Dennis Crouch, who plays with Vince Gill in the Time Jumpers. He is also pleased that some of his instruments have wound up in the hands of musicians who play on riverboats.
For those who are new to music, the store offers lessons so that you aren’t left trying to figure out your brand new guitar on your own. In addition to piano and violin lessons, customers can also receive training on slightly more unusual instruments, such as cellos or ukuleles.
Amy Vaughn said she first met Houze when she “was a kid” and today teaches piano lessons at his store. She recalls that a guitar from Crawdaddy Music was a special graduation present her senior year. Vaughn cites the fact that the store “carries hard to find instruments” as well as lessons as part of what makes the business so special.
Vaughn says it’s important that at Crawdaddy Music customers are not merely sold an instrument and sent on their way. “I think it builds a strong community to offers lessons.”
She says Houze himself is a key to the store’s success, adding, “He has a really strong foundation for music” and that “he can play almost all of the instruments that he carries.”
While Houze works hard helping others discover and expand their own musical talents, he has remained active himself in the Madison musical scene. “I’ve been playing in the Hanover College Community Orchestra for going on 20 years.”
He also heads up the Rob Houze Jazz Quartet, which can be found enlivening many Madison events and will ring in the New Year at Joeyg’s Restaurant & Nightclub on Madison’s Main Street.
For those thinking of picking up an instrument, Houze encourages then to stop by and see about lessons.
“As soon as your start playing, you are better than the person who never tried,” he says. “Enjoy the journey!”

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