FAIRFIELD — Gordon’s Music and Sound has been a fixture in downtown Fairfield for 30 years now, occupying the building that at one time was home to JC Penney.
Owner Cliff Gordon started working at the store when it was known as Solano Music and owned by local piano teacher William Kuntz.
Gordon had an interest in music at a young age, playing clarinet at Golden West and later at Vanden High School. After graduating in 1972, he worked two other jobs in addition to Solano Music. He managed a local rock band called Rosewood and was attending San Francisco State to become a music teacher.
In the late ’70s, the then-manager of the store had been working for many days straight, so when he finally did take some days off, Gordon covered for him. Gordon eventually became manager. His dreams of a career in music education then morphed into the realities of music retail.
“I started learning about all of the things I didn’t know – the technology side of music reproduction, the recording technologies and sound reinforcements at that time and all the instruments I didn’t know anything about,” Gordon said. “There was just so much to learn.”
In 1982, owner William Kuntz returned to Europe to teach piano and sold Gordon the store. Scores of musicians have been matched with an instrument in order to express themselves musically.
“Our greatest strength and our greatest weakness has always been the fact that we are a full-line music store,” Gordon said. “There aren’t that many full-line music stores left. Everything has become very specialized, but music stores used to be music stores. If you needed a record, turntable, needle, guitar, amp, piano, sheet music – whatever it was, if it was related to music, you came here.”
Gordon’s Music and Sound carries instruments from guitars to mandolins to drums and if a customer needs something not in stock, such as a harp or harpsichord, they can get it.
In addition, they offer service and repair of instruments, installation of audio and video equipment and home studios and have a cadre of professionals who offer instruction in everything from saxophone to guitar to drums.
Scott Miller is the music teacher at Rodriguez High School – 300 students in the program perform in marching band, color guard, jazz band and two choirs. Miller has used Gordon’s Music and Sound for eight years.
“Whenever I have needed something, Cliff is always there and gives me the best price he can,” Miller said. “He is really knowledgeable, especially when it comes to electronics. Every year, when we do our District Choir Festival, he helps us out by running the sound board. It’s been my experience that Gordon’s Music has always gone above and beyond to make sure the kids were taken care of.”
In November and December, in an effort to bring music to the masses and give musicians a place to express themselves, Gordon’s Music and Sound hosted a six-week concert series that featured everything from power pop to a guitar/cello duet to a ZZ Top-esque surf punk band.
The shop has also provided equipment for many civic events, which to Gordon is a no-brainer.
“If you expect the community to sustain you and your family, you have to be prepared to give back. To me, that reciprocity is inherent in all business,” Gordon said.
Being a conduit that connects people with their creative passion is what has been the most satisfying to Gordon.
“To me, the greatest thing is getting people to see that participating in making music has great benefits to them,” Gordon said. “It’s a healthy, safe emotional release as opposed to other unhealthy, destructive ones. People come back and tell me how important it is to them and they say they wish they had done it years ago. The emotional payoffs are so great.”
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gordon’s Music and Sound
Address: 810 Texas St., Fairfield
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday