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Jerry Brock & The Louisiana Music Factory E-mail
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Sunday, 05 February 2006 05:53
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Jerry Brock & The Louisiana Music Factory

By John Sinclair


It may have seemed an improbable goal, to open a record shop in the French Quarter that would specialize in new and historical music from New Orleans and Louisiana and cater to music lovers whose tastes were located well outside the mainstream of popular culture.

Yet by 1992 co-proprietor Jerry Brock was no stranger to improbability at all, and once again a wild surmise has paid off for the former Texan, his partner, Barry Smith, the local music community and an endless stream of tourists who have discovered the Louisiana Music Factory to be one of the hippest music outlets anywhere in the world.

The multi-talented Mr. Brock is perhaps best known in the Crescent City for his founding role in establishing and operating community radio station WWOZ-90.7 FM. He is an accomplished graphic designer and production specialist, a record producer, audio engineer, music historian and journalist, filmmaker and videographer, a poet, drummer, and current Vice-President of the Sixth Ward Blue Monday Social Aide & Pleasure Club.

Brock began his long career in the music business as a teen-aged record retailer in his native Texas. By the time he was 19 he had been appointed a regional manager for the Discount Record chain owned by Columbia Records.

Jerry and his brother Walter Brock became involved in community radio in Texas and moved to New Orleans in March, 1976 to start up a listener-supported FM station that would serve the music, musicians and music-lovers of the Crescent City and the surrounding region.

Starting at absolute ground zero, the Brock brothers and their allies put the station on the air in December of 1980. Soon WWOZ was ensconced in make-shift studios on the second floor of Tipitina's, where they broadcasted daily until they were able to move the station to its present location in Armstrong Park. As their operating debts continued to mount, the Brocks arranged the sale of the station to the Jazz & Heritage Foundation in 1987.

During this period Brock also produced the initial albums by the Dirty Dozen, Re-Birth, and Chosen Few Brass Bands and completed a pair of films on the music of New Orleans; conducted extensive original research into the history of brass bands and early jazz in the city; published several important articles on brass bands and the Mardi Gras Indians; and produced an historic series of fund-raising concerts for WWOZ.

After Brock left the radio station he worked as an audio-visual engineer and spent some time behind the counter at Record Ron's used record shop, where he met his future partner, Barry Smith, an MBA from Loyola whose love of music had drawn him to a career in music retailing.

In the early 90's Jerry Brock and Barry Smith began to formulate plans for a record shop of their own that would serve as an outlet for the music of New Orleans and Louisiana; for blues, jazz, gospel, R&B and world music in general; for the serious record collector, the tourist trade, and the local music lover; for new releases on CD, cassette and vinyl and for used records in every format--CDs, LPs, EPs, 45s and 78s. They were also committed to presenting "live" music in the store on a regular basis.

The Louisiana Music Factory opened its doors in February 1992 at 225 N. Peters in the French Quarter with a "live" performance by Mr. Danny Barker, Brock's close friend and mentor. During its first five years the Louisiana Music Factory has become known world-wide for its comprehensive selection of recordings, personalized service, prompt attention to special orders, and quick shipping of long-distance orders.

The Factory's stock of new and used CDs, tapes, LPs and singles continues to grow, and they've added music videos, books and magazines, paintings, posters and art, music-related specialty products, sheet music, and a large selection of music T-shirts.

In September 1996 Dave Bartholomew and his orchestra led the Music Factory and friends in celebrating the move to their new location at 210 Decatur Street, just a block farther from the river, next door to Werlein's Music and across the street from the House of Blues.

At the new store the Factory now enjoys two floors of music--the second floor is strictly vinyl--with an expanded performance stage and plenty of room for CDs and music-related products on the ground floor, and the Factory now stays open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, seven days a week.

At the Music Factory the many local record labels--Orleans, Mardi Gras, GHB, Sounds of New Orleans, DuBat and all the others--and Crescent City artists who issue their own recordings can count on maximum exposure for new releases and catalog product, and major-label and foreign recordings by New Orleans musicians are in the store with amazing swiftness.

The Factory's mailing list numbers in the thousands, and the partners anticipate the rapid expansion of their substantial mail-order business following the publication of a long-awaited music catalogue and monthly newsletter this spring.

While devoting most of his time to building business and keeping up with new releases for the Music Factory, Jerry Brock has managed to find time enough to continue his research and writing, produce new CDs by the Treme Brass Band and the historic collaboration between Doc Cheatham and Nicholas Payton, and immerse himself--as always--in the music and culture of the streets of New Orleans.

At 41 years of age he's a young man with an ancient soul, a music lover to the bone with a lifetime commitment to serving the music and the people who make it. You can be sure his record shop is more than just a place to buy CDs: indeed, it's a full-service support system for musicians and their products, thriving on Decatur Street in the musical center of the universe.


--New Orleans
March 12, 1997



(c) 1997, 2006 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.


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