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Warner

The Music Store

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 02, 1994.

When my wife and I arrived in Boulder in 1971, one of the first people we met was Patrick, a tall, red headed kid. Patrick was rumored to be the best instrument repair man in the state, perhaps in several states, a condition that inspired great respect but was augmented by his being "reasonable", which was defined in whispers to other musician friends as "cheap, he hardly charges anything," an aspect that elevated him to near mythical status.

Patrick at that time worked part time out of his home and part time out of The Music Store, an old, musty shop of used and some new equipment on Broadway next to the Aristocrat restaurant. Perhaps it was due to the fact that The Music Store was sandwiched between another music store and Boulder's most popular restaurant for college kids and perpetually broke musicians that made it the gathering place for just about everyone, including the famous and near famous and the really good that had no work and those that worked lots but had no talent, like me. The Music Store was presided over by Warner Logan, although it was years before I knew his last name, who also had red hair and who loved to talk. Lots. Really lots.

Warner had been around music all his life. His father was Happy Logan in Denver, a guy who apparently had an impressive reputation and who was present always in his son's thoughts. Happy ran a music store, evidently doing many of the rentals to the school systems, and Warner grew up doing excellent repairs on horns and woodwinds until he left home. There was something, I recall, about a music store in Steamboat, then he ended up in Boulder, where he held sway over one of Boulder's great institutions.

Warner was, I am told, a pretty good musician in his own right, and he played with many bands before slowing down to where he didn't feel good about playing anymore. He was an encyclopedia of information and misinformation about Denver and Boulder's music scenes over the years, and if not always accurate, always amusing.

Like a cafe or a den of inequity, the Music Store always had a Big Conversation going on in the back room, Warner's office, lulled with the 'music' of lessons going on in the basement downstairs, and people trying out instruments upstairs, and other groups of people making deals and putting together bands or getting a guitarist from Warner's irreplaceable Rolodex. It reminded me much of many of the businesses that catered to the fisherman of my hometown in Massachusetts, or the really great bars that appear in life: it was the joint, the place to hang, the place to find out the skinny on anything. And God only knew who you'd meet there.

It lasted until very late in the 1970's, when Boulder and professional music changed forever: the Mall came, and acoustic music went and synthesizers were it. Also, I suspect that sound systems were better and cheaper and rentals dropped. Warner would not change, either in attitude or demeanor, and the Music Store, long after Patrick left, still had the whiff of the great days even when business was way down.

Warner cleaned his coffee machine every time St. Mary's Glacier achieved another foot in her race down the mountain, and whether it was because of that or the fact that the coffee mugs had often just (and sometimes still) held some small, essential nut or bolt to some rare instrument, the coffee achieved that state of perfection the Yuppie, hand-wrung bean stores will never achieve. Great coffee, like great happiness, can only be achieved by indirection. I learned that from The Late George Apley, one of my favorite books, and it was that tome that started the first of my literary discussions with Warner, who was one of the best read people I knew in music. Unexpected pleasure in good, often sober, conversation, braced with endless strong, 'distinct' coffee and sometimes incredible music is a sensation to be treasured, and I remember well and affectionately those days in the Music Store, with Patrick and Warner squabbling more or less amiably over some bill, an insight into a songwriter's motivation still hanging in incomplete conversation, and - is that Stills? No. - surrounded by immeasurable talent and the smell of old leather and thin wood, the bright, warm sound of new medium gauge bronze strings and the knowledge that the Martin guitar Warner is letting you play was made before the Spanish American War. It was a wonderful place and like much in Boulder, taken for granted, by none more than the musicians that took advantage of its presence.

Warner died last week. I hadn't spoken to him in months, the last when passing his then new store on Pearl St. It was never quite the same, but often I would pop in and find Warner hunched over his books, preserving a niche. I sat down to write this upon reading the obituary this morning, fortified by coffee made in an unwashed carafe and drunk from an unwashed cup. Not the same, but I want to recall and remember always.