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Mountain Music Parlor keeps music alive

By Tony Contini
A banjo at Mountain Music Parlor

A few weeks into the stay-at-home orders, Mountain Music Parlor’s basement flooded. Owner Renee Lauderback walked down her stairs and discovered eight inches of water, warped music books, and drowned banjos, guitars, and ukuleles. 

“We caught it two days too late,” Lauderback said. “It hurts because our heart and soul are here.”

A few weeks into the stay-at-home orders, Mountain Music Parlor flooded and many instruments and music books were damaged.
A few weeks into the stay-at-home orders, Mountain Music Parlor flooded and many instruments and music books were damaged. Image: Tony Contini

Lauderback has added flood repair to her long list of duties at the music shop. She does the merchandising, designs and distributes every flier for their 20 in-house concerts per year. She also creates the art hanging on the shop walls and facilitates a space for music teachers to share their gifts. 

The pandemic has changed many things, but Lauderback’s work ethic and compassion still thrive. 

Lessons aren’t in session yet, but she sells instruments on Wednesdays and Saturdays while communicating with customers via video calls so they can see and hear the instruments before they come in. 

Mountain Music Parlor is located in the original Maytan Music building off Center Street. It was also the former childhood home of Nevada banker and miner George Wingfield. The history doesn’t stop there. 

I walked in through the back door, passed a banjo happily waiting for a customer pickup, then was immediately surrounded by rich woods and history. The lights overhead are from the MGM, a huge Tahoe tree trunk serves as a centerpiece for the wooden hideaway, and the walls are signed by bluegrass and folk performers who’ve graced their stage (including artists from Smithsonian Folkways, A Prairie Home Companion, and mandolin guru Chris Thile of Live From Here). Lauderback renovated the building for a year and a half and the care shows.

“We are all about preserving and passing on America’s grassroots music,” Lauderback said. “We are about community, history, and culture. We nurture the music in people.”

Lauderback stressed her end goal isn’t a sale like Amazon or Guitar Center. She wants to provide something that will last a lifetime.  

“We want the community to know we are here for them,” Lauderback said. “Music and supporting local artists is extremely important for the human spirit.”

Music is always the glue between people in difficult times. 

“This is our gift to the community,” Lauderback said. 

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