Oral History -

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Phil Thompson enjoyed working in the leather company his grandfather formed in Nashville. As a teenager Phil made himself a leather guitar strap in the shop, although the business at the time was devoted to horse accessories.

Charles Urban knows horns! As the former president of American Plating, he has worked with all of the top brass instrument makers in perfecting the art of plating instruments. Chuck is also very proud to have been in the music products industry, having made many friends along the way.

Marcellus Trach recalls with a smile the many rules a wood worker had to follow in the C.F. Martin & Company when he was first hired after World War II. He also expressed the pride so many of his co-workers felt over the years towards the world-class musical instruments they were making each day.

Paul Tanner joined Glenn Miller's newly formed band in 1938 and recorded all of the band's hits including "In the Mood" and "String of Pearls."  He often said "Everything the Glenn Miller Orchestra did from 1938-1942, I did."  When Glenn signed on to lead the military band during the war, the civilian band broke up and Paul moved to Los Angeles to record in the studios. While i

Harold Stone served the music products industry in many ways over a long and celebrated career. After working in a music retail store (Mays Music), Harold joined the CG Conn Company where he stayed for 27 years developing a business and marketing plan as well as creating the sales training for the Conn sales school programs.

Ursula Seiler is president of the piano company formed by her late husband’s family. The Seiler Piano Company of Kitzinger, Germany has an extensive history of producing well-respected and innovative products. The family traditions continue within the company with Ursula’s daughter, Manuella, working alongside her mother.  

Poncho Sanchez has the heart and soul of his Latin music roots and the love and feel for funk. The result of these passions is the unique style that has helped establish him as a talented and innovative conga player and songwriter. During the interview he recalled how his love of music developed and the pride he has towards bringing his music to audiences all over the world.

Art Risavy Sr. has always been fascinated with music. He had the idea of converting an old bowling alley into a music store in southern Illinois in the 1960s and Swing City Music was born. Fitting enough, his son and future partner was born a few years later. The store became “the place to go” to find musical products in and around the St. Louis area and became a favorite for roadies who cared for the gear of traveling bands. Art continued to service the customers as well as seeking ways to satisfy their various needs.

Art Risavy Jr. studied business in college and worked in a bank before returning to work in the music store his father had formed just a few years before Art was born. Working alongside his father, Art Sr., he helped the store grow and oversaw the expansion of the church and pro audio departments. Swing City Music is located in an old bowling alley and contains an impressive selection of musical products.

Al Rich, the former president of Pearl River Pianos in the United States seems to have pianos in his blood. He grew up in DeKalb, IL, the home of the mighty Wurlitzer Corporation. Al’s father owned a music retail store where Al recalls meeting the many traveling salesmen with a celebrity like status.