New music store opens on Lee Road

Rick Szekelyi and Darrell Branch, owners of the new Heights Music Shop on Lee Road. Photos courtesy of James Henke.

A new music store opened Nov. 1 on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. Called the Heights Music Shop, the store moved into the space previously occupied by Serendipity, at 2174 Lee Road.

The shop is owned by Darrell Branch, who was manager of Heights Guitars on Lee Road before it closed in March 2014, and Rick Szekelyi, a guitarist who has been involved with music for many years. Szekelyi had the idea for the store. He then contacted Cleveland Heights musician Charlie Mosbrook, who suggested that he team up with Branch.

The shop sells guitars and other stringed instruments, including banjos and ukuleles. It also sells effects pedals, strings and other accessories, and will offer lessons and provide full-service instrument repairs. In addition, it will hold workshops on such topics as songwriting and how to take care of your guitar. And it will host open-mic events. It plans to present in-store concerts by both local musicians and others who are in the Cleveland area for concerts and other events. The owners hope to team up with local arts-centered institutions to bring other programs into the store.

Neither Branch nor Szekelyi is worried about competition from such larger chain stores as Sam Ash Music or Guitar Center, which was one of the factors cited when Heights Guitars went out of business. “They are just music stores,” Szekelyi said. "We want to be part of the music community. And this will be a specialty shop.”

“We want to be a resource for local musicians,” Branch added. "We want people to come here and hang out.”

The two owners also think they are filling a void in the Heights. “Ever since Heights Guitars closed, people have told me they miss the store and we need a new store,” Branch said. The store currently plans to carry four brands of guitars: Guild, Crafter, Alvarez and Cordoba. “We are trying to accommodate people who want to come in and spend $200 and get a great guitar,” Szekelyi said.

Branch said their goal was to make the store like a “living-room setting.”

“If you go over to a friend’s house and that friend has a lot of gear in his living room, that’s what we want this to look like,” Branch said. “We want it to be very roomy inside, and then we will be able to accommodate the performances, the open-mic events and the other things we will be offering.”

Szekelyi, who’s 64, has been playing guitar since he was 8 years old. He has taught lessons at various places in the Cleveland area, and he previously hosted open-mic sessions at the Stone Oven on Lee Road. He is also a member of the band City Limits, which features Amanda Walsh on keyboards. He is a resident of Cleveland Heights, and lives on Euclid Heights Boulevard near Superior Road.

Branch is 60 years old and lives in Cleveland. He plays both guitar and drums.

Both men love the Heights. “There has always been a cool sense of community here,” Szekelyi said.

“The thing I like the most about the Heights is the diversity,” Branch added. “And the city itself is very supportive of the arts. It’s a very artistic community. I think of it as a North Coast version of SoHo.”

James Henke

James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 3:24 PM, 10.30.2015