Monday, October 08, 2012

Keith Coombes at Ernie November: "You have to make things happen"

Poster for the Friday show at Ernie November in Cheyenne. Here's the plug on the Facebook event page: "HORDE OF DRAUGAR's CD-Release Party (Killer Death Metal from Cheyenne) with INCINERATED (Brutal Death/War Metal from Cheyenne). All-Ages/Free Show/Bring Donation$$$/Buy Merch/Always Fun/Never Stop/Ernie's Shows Rule."
I am still low-tech when it comes to music. If I still had a turntable, I would probably be buying vinyl. And I wouldn't be alone. There is still a market for turntables and records. Local music store Ernie November is a case in point. Proprietor Keith Coombes still stocks vinyl and it sells.

I order all of my CDs from Keith and Jason, his right hand man. Last February, when I told Jason that Moby Grape founder Peter Lewis was coming to Cheyenne, his eyes grew wide and he said only one word, "Wow." When I mentioned that Peter would be performing with Detroit spoken word poet M.L Liebler who sometimes performed with Jon Sinclair, his eyes grew wide and he asked this simple question: "You mean Jon Sinclair of MC5?" "Yes," was all that I said. Jason dug out a documentary video of MC5, one that I hadn't heard about.

These guys know their music. And their music history.

During lunch today, I dropped by the store to pick up the Bodeans CD I ordered when I was downtown for the Zombiefest. Keith was there, as he usually is, and my CD was sitting in a stack of special orders. Keith's a heavy metal guy, with multiple tattoos and piercings, but he will order anything. And buyers such as me get the good feeling that we are patronizing a local business. Ernie November is a downtown staple. As Keith rang up the sale, we talked about downtown redevelopment. He's excited about Alan O'Hashi's plan to redevelop the Hynds Building and The Hole directly across 16th Street. He likes the idea that 100-some LCCC students might end up living in the redeveloped space. We both agreed that it will add some much-needed energy, not to mention lots of kids who like to buy their music locally. And go to concerts. Keith has sponsored almost 100 shows in his tiny downtown space. He says that it takes him about 20 minutes to move his T-shirts and tie-dye clothing items into the back room and put screens around the incense and candle section. And then he just packs the fans into the store. This Friday, Horde of Draugar is coming to the store. Not my cup of tea, exactly, but he's aiming for a much younger demographic.

Keith was profiled in the June issue of Liberty's Torch, the local Libertarian newspaper. Under the header "Interviews: Capitalists & Creators," editor Brad Harrington conducted an interesting Q&A with Keith. In it, Keith says that he was like a lot of Cheyenne kids, and couldn't wait to leave town after high school because there was nothing to do. But he eventually moved back and took over Ernie November. He soon discovered that there still wasn't a lot of things for kids to do in Cheyenne.
You've got to make your path instead of to wait for it to come along. So that's what we ultimately did. We throw shows in here and we started because there was a lack of venues in town. We've had almost 100 shows in here, with dozens of touring bands from all over the world. If there's a lack of something out there, you have to take charge and do it yourself. Cheyenne's supposed to be just a 'cowboy,' western town, but here I am, the most un-country thing imaginable -- and I'm thriving. You have to make things happen.
Amen, Keith.

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