The Rural We: Rob Caldwell
Musica owner Rob Caldwell is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his lovingly curated Hudson, New York music shop. If you are or know a musician and haven’t been there, you need to stop what you’re doing and go there a.s.a.p. Musica was in Chatham for its first 10 years and Hudson for the second. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone more passionate about sharing music with others and creating connections with and between musicians (evident by the huge wall of photos behind him at left) than Caldwell. Each picture is a different kid he gave music lessons to over the years. The store is top notch, carrying essentials but also a wide range of beautiful international instruments you’re just not going to find anywhere else because he’s sourced them directly from their makers during his travels.
Twenty years ago I was a builder but I was always a guitar player. So we were on a big job, sitting in this little hallway in the wintertime, getting ready for lunch and the wind is whipping bad and all of a sudden this little drizzle of water comes down in front of everybody as we are sitting there eating our sandwiches and I said “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to start a music store down where Filbert and Beans use to be [in Chatham].” And I did. I had always incorporated music into everything I did anyway.
I’ve always been, since hippie times, a believer in community music. Rather than chops and big hair and that sort of thing, I like it when music makes me feel good when I listen to it. I love playing music with other people, especially people that I like and respect. So that’s what I wanted to do in a music store.
Music is a way to have fun and communicate with people in a really pleasant way. It’s 20 years and things have changed. Everybody is a lot more inward with their phones and their machines but there are still plenty of people that want to create a creative community and there are a lot of people making it up as they go along.
I’m never trying to get someone to buy something. I like talking to musicians. Even if they don’t buy something here, I give the best advice I can because I want another musician out there. Creative people are drawn to Hudson so there is still a musical community, but it’s a little bit more difficult for them to maintain these days.
There are a lot of musicians that have come through the doors over the past 20 years that aren’t around anymore and I miss them generally. But there are always new ones coming in that are very cool and human, and that brings new life into a place.