Ignition Music Garage, your one-stop shop for classic vinyl. The product of a teenager of the 70s, it houses some of the best music of the past half century, with genres that can fit anyone’s taste of music.The inside is spacious and free, with CDs, vinyl and different pieces of listening equipment lining the walls. The ceiling is high, and it really does feel like a great space for live performances.
Tucked in the back-left corner underneath a small second-floor landing was where I found Steve Martin. Two nice leather chairs and a coffee table: it was a comfortable little spot.
He controlled the music playing throughout the store from his laptop on some speakers that sat in front of us.
Before I could even get to my questions, Martin did his own interview on me.
“What are you about now, man?” he says. We chat a bit about my field, as Lucie, his wife, had some graduate experience in that area.
He gets up and asks me if I want some coffee, as he needed to warm his up.
“I like cold coffee, and I like hot coffee,” he said. “Lukewarm coffee sucks.”
He eased his way through a doorway that went back even further into the shop.
Martin is at least six-foot-two-inches, a height easy to miss because he has a slight bend as he walks. At 63 years, he has silver-white hair and a goatee to match.
Throughout college, Martin prided himself on his love of music. He always had the most recent and impressive music before any of his friends knew about it, and went to countless concerts.
“I went to too many to remember,” he said, “from some terrible shows to some absolute legends.”
Music then became an academic track for Martin.
“I graduated from Goshen with a degree in partying,” he said. “I took credit-no credit classes until my last year, where I got all my work done. I DJed at all the parties, and I loved it.”
After college, Martin progressed through the corporate stepladder for many years, rising and falling until the bust of 2008. After this, Lucie was pursing her passions in landscape design in Massachusetts. Martin decided to do the same.
He began volunteering at 91.1 The Globe after Jason Samuel took over management. During Samuel’s new overhaul of the college radio station, he needed new music and some feature shows. Martin answered the call.
Now more invested in the music scene, Martin began making yearly trips to the Americana Music Association’s Americanafest in Nashville.
There, he participated in showcases and workshops, and met everyone involved in the music industry, from artists to major labels.
“There was just a funnel of people there, phenomenally talented people,” he said. “And I asked myself, ‘Why can’t it be like this all the time?’ There are all these artists who have mastered the craft, but they’re literally starving!”
Martin saw a host of artists, all with hunger and the talent to write their own music who were invisible to most of the nation. So, he went on to open Ignition Music Garage in 2012, hoping to promote local and, more importantly, live music.
“Your generation drives me crazy,” he says. “You know what you know? MP3’s, earbuds and your iPod on shuffle.”
He says this with conviction.
“I was taking my brother-in-law shopping for CDs, where this guy invited us into this high end audio room,” Martin recalled. “The music just opened up. It was like I was listening to this song in 3D.” Martin made it his mission to install a sound system of that caliber in his home.
He explained the minute differences in listening to music through various means.
“I got some really cool stuff – now you ready to hear it?” I nodded as he reached over to grab his laptop, which up until this point had been playing classic rock at a fairly low volume, the volume you’d hear in any record store, where the idea is to sell music, not entertain.
The volume gets cranked – it’s clear that it’s his store and he’ll play music however he wants, even if there were customers in the store. The music opens smooth guitar riffs, followed by some other synthesized sounds.
“Tash Sultana,” he says with a grin on his face. I realized that he was watching me, waiting to see how I would receive the music.
“Alright now let’s listen to a genius,” after listening to a suggestion. “He recorded this right before he died.” He plays “Blackstar,” by David Bowie. It’s an eerie song, which seems like it almost changes songs every two minutes.
“Listen to the layers,” he says. And when he says it, you really notice it. The three-dimensional sound he spoke about—it was there. The bass had less rumble, the snare sounded sharper and the guitars were clear.
“Your MP3s take away the authentic experience of music,” he said. “MP3s pushed on people by the industries are just like everything wrong with society today. The real value of music is in the experience. Like you and I, when we listened to David Bowie, we shared an experience together.”