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Sales associate and guitar picker Dave Laughlin often leads jam sessions at Hill Country Music. Visitors looking for music equipment, songbooks, CDs, and music-themed gift items will usually enjoy some live music during their shopping in this Main Street Fredericksburg shop. Photo by Phil Houseal

Hill Country Music is located downtown at 151 East Main. They are open Monday - Wednesday 10-5, Thursday - Saturday 10-5:30, and Sunday from 1-5. You can call 830-997-0900 or find them on the web at www.hill-country-music.com.


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Hill Country Music:
One serious music store

by Phil Houseal
Nov 23, 2005

Any town that hopes to support a serious music scene requires a serious music store. Musicians must have someplace to go to replace all those broken strings, picks, and sticks.

Read about the new owners who bought it in 2016

So it was welcome news for Fredericksburg when Hill Country Music recently expanded its floor space. They now offer a wider array of quality instruments, accessories, music books, and CDs. The store provides instrument repair, and added gift items for musician and non-musician.

OK, so it isn’t all serious. According to store manager Ron Sutton, top-selling gift items include music note toilet paper and the Zydeco tie - a corrugated metal clip-on that comes in handy next time Mardi Gras breaks out at a staff meeting.

But that is what makes Hill Country Music so fascinating: You don’t have to be a musician to enjoy it.

I consider this place half music shop, half jam session. Stop in any day of the week and odds are you’ll find some people picking away inside the front door. One of those pickers will be sales associate Dave Laughlin.

Laughlin, who has performed since he was seven, plays tenor banjo, mandolin, electric guitar and rhythm guitar. He welcomes accomplished musicians and wannabes alike.

“Everybody who comes in here is a songwriter,” he said. “You just hit a G chord and sing.”

Some bona fide big time stars have passed through. Laughlin rattles off a list that includes Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels, and various Dixie Chicks. He was most impressed with one visitor no one has heard of: Craig Duncan of Nashville.

“He wrote 35 books for the Mel Bay music series,” Laughlin said. “And he also performs and produces the Green Hills CDs. He was just the most pleasant and interesting guy.”

A good hometown music store is even more of a treasure in this world of internet purchasing. Why would anyone want to buy a guitar in a music store when every make and model can be found at an online auction?

“They want to play it before they buy it - hold it, feel it, touch it,” manager Sutton said of his customers. “We give personal service here, and you won’t find that even at the big music stores in the city. We also carry a variety of instruments - things like mandolins, banjos, tenor guitars, and autoharps - that you can’t find easily.” (Click here to see article on their mysterious "face in the guitar" instrument)

You can buy mouth harps, harmonicas, recorders, pennywhistles, the Original Kazoo, and books on how to play them. There is even a set of bagpipes for that hard-to-shop-for regimental Scottish Highlander on your list.

Hill Country Music also supports Texas and local artists by letting them consign their CDs in the shop. A quick browse reveals releases from Mike Blakely, Roger Moon, Terri Hendrix, and the McKay Brothers.

Sutton reports that song books are always hot. Top sellers are country standards by Chet, Hank, Willie, Merle and other one-name legends.

And of course Hill Country Music is your one-stop source for musical note motif cookie cutters, socks, pins, stationery, ties, and the aforementioned toilet paper.

There. My Christmas shopping is done.