Performing Arts in the Heart of Downtown Music Store | New Hampshire

DERRY — It’s a longtime downtown space that has put music in many classrooms and supported singers, dancers, comedians and other performers.

For Smash Music, it’s about providing a place for performers to show off their talents, while operating as a full-service music store offering sales, rentals, music lessons, and supplies.

Smash Music owner Scott Graves said his mission is to continue supporting the arts while offering part of his East Broadway space as a showcase for local talent.

Graves’ “Maker Space” at the Music Store already has a full roster of artists who have taken the intimate stage for various events and concerts.

The small gathering place in the side room is also filled with vintage vinyl records, merchandise, and other music items.

Graves, an acclaimed musician in his own right, discovered the music store, formerly Daren’s Music in downtown Derry, when he was looking to find a retail space he could turn into little more than a simple retail/rental business.

A decades-long performing artist, jazz studio musician, and businessman, Graves found Daren’s for sale and decided to take over the downtown business.

It’s been four years and Graves is very passionate about the store side of music, but also about the deeper effort to shine a light on local artists, musicians and entrepreneurs who hope to grow businesses in yoga, children’s arts, dance and other performance and educational programs.

Graves said the addition of performance space helps optimize what he does with the music store. It’s kind of an incubation plan that gives Maker Space members a chance to be part of a larger effort to bring more entertainment and art to downtown Derry and hopefully attract the audience on Broadway.

“I’m trying to build a performing arts center that does its own retail business,” Graves said. “The Maker Space helps me build a community.”

Graves said he felt what he was doing was necessary as the Greater Derry region and beyond is home to a plethora of talent.

But getting people to the doors of the shows also proves to be a challenge.

Time and money can play a role, he said, and like many performing arts groups, it’s sometimes difficult to market gigs and see audiences arrive.

Music or any arts education effort sometimes doesn’t make it to the priority lists, Graves added.

He said he also walked into a historic downtown music store situation like Daren’s and made it his own. He said he’s been getting a lot of positive feedback about the changes he’s made and what Smash Music offers.

Graves has a team of committed instructors for all types of music lessons and also promotes merchandise, apparel, and other items that support the artisan community.

Students can learn bagpipes, ukulele, banjo, vocals and percussion if that’s their interest, Graves said. Customers can also sign up for yoga, dance, and also find the right instrument to rent for a young beginner player. Instrument repairs are also done in-house.

He also wants to support not only his own business and his artists and musicians, but also the community and its people.

Graves wants people to know that Smash Music is ready to offer just about anything a musician needs, of any ability, and also wants to help his Maker Space grow.

This, in turn, can support the downtown area and the community as a whole. He wants to help people interact and appreciate the arts more.

“We need entrepreneurs, we need utilization,” Grave said. “We want to try our luck in Derry. Many more residents need to experience their city centre. It’s a rare asset and it will disappear unless people embrace it.”

Graves invites people to stop and see what Smash Music is all about. It’s about the music and so much more, he said.

“People can come here and be themselves, experience what we have to offer,” he said. “The focus is on the community, not just the music. Hope for good things.”

Smash Music is located at 25 East Broadway. For more information on upcoming sales, rentals or shows, visit https://www.yoursmashmusic.com or visit the company on Facebook.

Alice P. Darby