My parents owned a music store and my mom was a lifelong music teacher, so we grew up with music in our daily lives, in our home, in our faith, and in our community.
We chatted with Abbie Leithold of Leithold Music, a long-time community member and business in the area with deep roots in the music scene. We talked about the new construction, their services, what’s going on with the music store and where people can find out more.
La Crosse Local is proud sponsor of the La Crosse Winter Roots Festival.
Amy Gabay 00:01
La Crosse Local is proud to be a sponsor of the La Crosse Winter Roots Festival brought to you by Ultra Federal Credit Union. We invite you to celebrate music, cuisine, artists, makers, brewers and distillers in the new La Crosse Center Riverside ballroom. Musical entertainment includes Dan Sebranek, Three Grimm, Tugg, the Remainders, Greg Hall and the Wrecking Ball and the Tripping Billies, the nation’s most renowned Dave Matthews tribute band. La Crosse Winter Roots Festival is presented by the La Crosse Center, La Crosse Local, and with special thanks to the Remainders. Find out more information and how to get tickets at lacrosselocal.com. We chatted with Abby Leithold of Leithold music, a longtime community member and business in the area with deep roots in the music scene. We talked about the new construction, their services, what’s going on with the music store and where people can find out more. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website, La Crosse local.com. I’m Amy.
Brent Hanifl 01:10
And I’m Brent.
Amy Gabay 01:10
And this is La Crosse Local.
Abbie Leithold 01:13
I’m Abbie Leithold and I was born here in La Crosse. I’m a what I call a lifer here in the Seven Rivers Region. So I grew up here, my parents owned a music store. And my mom was a lifelong music teacher. So we grew up with music in our daily lives in our home, in our faith, in our community.
Brent Hanifl 01:36
So how did it all start? You know, how did Leithold’s Music, was it always in the same spot? Like what’s some of the history about it?
Abbie Leithold 01:42
Well, my brother and I are the fourth generation co owners of Leithold’s Music. And our great grandfather, Fred Leithold was a piano tuner and he opened a store in downtown La Crosse somewhere around 1888. He had several locations downtown. We moved into this building in 1964. So we’ve always been downtown, and it’s been over 130 years now.
Brent Hanifl 02:08
I’ve been in there, you know, a long time ago when I was a child. I mean, I’ve been in there since, but I took piano lessons at Leithold’s. I took bass lessons for time. You do have just like a lot going on there. Now, you know, besides just music and instruments sales, what sort of things can people get involved in terms of lessons and everything else?
Abbie Leithold 02:28
Well, we like to say that we’re your everything in music store, so that not only do we have the musical instruments, the pianos the band and orchestra instruments like guitars, the drums, but everything that you would need to make music and we have the print music, we have your lesson books, we have the accessories, we have strings, we have valve oil, we have reeds, we have a fantastic Band Instrument Repair Department just well known as one of the premier repair departments in the Midwest here. And we do offer lessons as well. So we’re just trying to make sure that everybody has the opportunity for music making, whether you’re professional, but you know, most people aren’t professional music makers. So they’re novices or beginners, they’re students.
Brent Hanifl 03:10
And you also have piano repair and delivery and that sort of thing. I remember Greg Cheech Hall worked for a time for you guys, correct?
Abbie Leithold 03:16
Yes, he did. Yeah. So we have that service before and after the sale tune. So we have to get the instruments to, to your home, we also have a couple of guys who visit the area schools. So that’s been a tradition for many decades, where we communicate directly with the band directors and choral directors at the area, high schools and middle school. So we’re in constant contact. So we’re really making those connections with the teachers as well and making sure that we’re there to service all the music makers.
Brent Hanifl 03:48
You know, just driving past the store. I mean, Leithold’s Music, just the building is renowned in the area just for being almost like a flag for the downtown area. What we’ve noticed over the past what, I don’t know how long it seems like for a while now, new construction is going on, or it looks like it’s almost completed. What’s what’s happening at the store?
Abbie Leithold 04:06
Well it’s a 130 year old building, and it needs a little care. And so when the windows started to deteriorate, we had to replace them. And you know, you can’t just buy those windows at Menards, your local shop here, they had to be completely refurbished. And so we were able to take advantage of facade grant and have some state and federal tax credits. And so we did it historically. So we renovated the exterior of the building, at the front is where you’re really going to see it there to where it would more likely have looked in 1930s between 1900s early 1900s, 1880s. So we opened up the second floor back to windows. We restored the windows all the way up to the sixth floor attic and redid our storefront today, and hopefully it made things a little more energy efficient as well.
Brent Hanifl 05:01
So I mean, just kind of following along at social media, you also have a recital room is that new, I mean, that looks pretty, pretty nice up there.
Abbie Leithold 05:09
Well, the recital room is our grand piano showroom. And it also doubles as our recital room. So if you take piano lessons here, you have the opportunity to participate in a recital once or twice a year. And we also open it to other area music teachers as well. And so the little bay window had a stage. And the before picture, that back bay window was all panels, because that window, the windows were boarded up, we’re not quite sure when they were boarded up, we think pre 1960 when it was still the Tillman Furniture Brothers. But so that recital room has always been in use for since 1960s. But now it’s opened up. We have beautiful windows, and that bay window, where the piano where you would give your recital.
Brent Hanifl 06:00
So what’s next, what are you excited for?
Abbie Leithold 06:02
Well, I think during COVID, we had a real appreciation of music making and what how music really brought us together, whether you are player, whether you were a student, and middle school, or high school, or were you just if you were in the audience.You couldn’t go to concerts, you couldn’t make music together, the teachers still taught I mean, they were really innovative in how they were teaching lessons, whether it was through the school lessons, or private lessons and such. So I think now I’m excited about safely resuming the live music scene, that being able to go to concerts, when we go to those live concerts, whether it was outdoors at La Crosse Concert Band, or Moon Tunes. I mean, that was, it was such a relief to be doing that again, and not only just for the performers, but for the audience as well. And just back singing in choirs and in schools and, and playing in the band. That was a little different when you’re having a zoom less than a year in your home. But to be able to play your clarinet in a room full of other musicians is pretty darn exciting.
Brent Hanifl 07:04
Yeah, I mean, it has been a great summer for different activities, just like you said Moon Tunes and getting back out and enjoying live music. So if people want to find out more, you know, maybe check out the recital room or just stop into the store. What’s the best avenue for them to go to to keep up to date?
Abbie Leithold 07:19
Well, we do have a website leitholdmusic.com. And we also have a Facebook page, Leithold Music. The hours are on the website and Facebook page but we do invite you to stop in because it’s a really cool place. I mean, you walk in our new doors and you see a lot of instruments. And we’re trying to be a family friendly place so that people can look around and look at instruments and wander to see the pianos in the showrooms and we want people to be excited about making music, everybody wants to play. Not everybody can be good at it, but no one is sorry that they tried.
Amy Gabay 07:57
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at lacrosselocal.com and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.
About La Crosse Local
La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.
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