What does a guy who grew up in Richmond Beach and Mercer Island know about folk and bluegrass music? As the owner of Folkstore music shop...
What does a guy who grew up in Richmond Beach and Mercer Island know about folk and bluegrass music?
As the owner of Folkstore music shop in the University District and a talented musician in his own right, Stuart Herrick knows quite a lot, thank you very much.
Folkstore sits tucked in a narrow storefront along Roosevelt Way Northeast, virtually hidden from view but frequently alive with the pickin’ and toe-tappin’ of customers and old friends who stop by to test out the merchandise right on the sales floor.
Herrick took over the tiny store in 1977, five years after an association of folk enthusiasts founded it.
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Today, the store is a virtual shrine to acoustic music, its walls hung with banjos and guitars beautifully adorned with honey-colored inlaid wood and gleaming metal fittings.
With its scratched wood floor, old carpets, rows of song books and records (the vinyl kind), the store has an inviting, pre-grunge grunginess.
Herrick’s great-grandfather’s 1907 Gibson mandolin was handed down the family line to him, and now rests in its own glass case in the back of the store. A framed, autographed photo of bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, whom Herrick once met at a show in Ballard, sits on top of the case.
Herrick says he taught himself to play mandolin in college “at the expense of my studies.” “Playing music, I realized, was the thing that really spoke to me.”
He played in some “very local” bands, but instead of running off and starting a full-fledged music career, he settled down with Folkstore.
“I thought, ‘Well, here’s a way to be around this music without going on the road — let the musicians come to me,’ ” Herrick recalls.
The musicians still come. If the store’s sole employee, local musician Jere Canote, isn’t on hand to pluck out favorites like “Goin’ Back to Tampa,” then one of Herrick’s pals, singer and guitarist John Miller among them, may stop by to jam with him.
Herrick lives the life of a troubadour, without ever leaving Roosevelt Avenue.
“I don’t regret it,” he says. “Thirty years speaks for itself.”