Interview With Steve Allen From Legend Musical Instruments - Take It Up Podcast ep.2
This is our interview with Steve Allen owner of Legend Musical Instruments
Jeff: Welcome to the Take It Up podcast on this episode I will be interviewing Steve Allen from Legend Musical Instruments. He is an excellent trumpet player, educator, music director and entrepreneur. also in full disclosure, Steve is a great friend of mine. This is the first time that we have tried to do a live stream on Facebook and YouTube I believe I will be able to see your questions and comments so please feel free to leave those and we'll try to answer them Steve welcome to the podcast.
Steve: Thanks Jeff good to be here.
Jeff: Awesome so let's talk about your early music career and how you got started in music.
Steve: Well back in 1967 I joined the junior high band and beginning band at glades junior high school in Miami Florida and the band director wanted me to play baritone but I had a grandfather named Sammy Goble who was a cornet player and I had no desire to play a baritone I took it home for two weeks and then brought it back and said nope not me and so my grandfather came down to Miami helped me pick out a trumpet my first trumpet was a Holton collegiate student model and I played that all the way through high school until I got my Bach but then I went to Miami Killian senior high school practice like mad became first chair and the Killian senior high school band and my sophomore year and I just never looked back just kept playing trumpet and then went into the Air Force out of high school played trumpet and the Tactical Air Command band for six years three months and 11 days.
Jeff: Now you have that down.
Steve: Any serviceman will tell you that, and then went to college after I got out of the service and what college at Florida Southern College got my bachelor in trumpet performance then went to the University of Kansas where I obtained my master's degree in trumpet performance so that's basically the story of my musical life and it continues I'm currently teaching at IUSB, St. Mary's and I have several private students as well as being the band director at North the Jazz Band Director at Northwood senior high and running truth in jazz a professional jazz band and I'm the assistant director of the Elkhart municipal band
Jeff: Awesome busy guy
Steve: Yeah and then I have a choir to Jamestown United Methodist Church to that direct now he's just a few things
Jeff: So awesome, was your family musical?
Steve: My dad played the clarinet that was it my musical desire came through my grandfather
Jeff: Awesome so awesome that's cool so a few years ago you started legend musical instruments and what what does legend make
Steve: Legend the primary product of Legend is the band tool that's my creation which is a multi tool for band directors and then we also have mouthpieces and we're also distributor for Andalucia musical instruments out of California and with the Band Tool
Jeff: What does that do?
Steve: Well it does a lot it, it has 30 tools on it and as a matter of fact I'm gonna go ahead and plug I'm gonna start doing a video series this week where I do 30 seconds with 30 tools and that's what we're gonna call it and it's gonna be 30 seconds showing you how to use one of the tools out of the 30 that are on the band tool
Jeff: Nice how, how did you come up with the idea for Band Tool?
Steve: Well in 1995 I was driving around visiting schools carrying this gigantic tool repair kit in an anvil case and it was heavy and I'd carry it into Bandroom and work on some instruments as a school music service rep you know for a music store and I said man it would be great if somebody just come up with a multiplier because most of the things I had to fix were bent keys, loose screws, mouthpiece truing, maybe have to cut a cork or something to put a new cork on a tenon cork or yeah any any number of things like that but something that I wouldn't have to carry this whole kit in and so and maybe also you know take a mouthpiece out you know of a horn has stuck mouthpiece
Jeff: Yeah and just so people know what we're talking about since we are on video this time I do have one here that's that's a good one yeah so anyways you can do all sorts of things with this and comes in a nice folds down comes in a nice little case and there's some other parts to it too
Steve: Right right you have a rawhide mallet and you have some driver bits in there so yet there's quite a number of tools and quite a number of uses
Jeff: And how long did it take from when you thought of this concept to take to actually bring it to market
Steve: Well I started in 2000 2015 in April 2015 working on my whole business plan because I knew my company that I was working for was about to be bought or sold it didn't look at it it was good I wasn't gonna be employed any longer and so I actually sat in the hotel room came up with the logo and came up with a web domain name and all that kind of stuff and then it took we didn't have any shippable product until July of 2016 so from it took us a little over a year to to get it rockin and rollin and I utilized a friend of mine who was a designer CAD designer so he could draw the whole thing out and then a friend of mine who ran a case company in China formerly he ran it in Taiwan and then moved his facility to China and he sourced the making the building of this product it's made in the same factories that make a lot of other multi-tools
Jeff: Nice and what are the advantages for band directors of having such a tool
Steve: Well there's several advantages number one you don't have to carry a big toolbox along with you you didn't just carry this in your briefcase or your backpack when you're going out to marching band events you can have it backstage when you're at a concert event so you don't have to carry this big toolbox and the idea behind this tool is you don't make major repairs with this the tagline of this tool is make it play now the object is to get the student back in the game play in their instrument as quickly as possible you might not always be able to do that but for the most part probably 70 to 80 percent of the time you're gonna be able to get the child playing again
Jeff: Yeah it's definitely good for marching band directors
Steve: Absolutely you don't want that person out there walking around not playing a horn
Jeff: And Legend Music also makes mouthpieces can you tell me a little bit about those
Steve: Yeah our mouthpieces are made by in Germany by the Laos Minh Company they're made to the same specifications as the Bach numbering sizes are and we carry trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, trombone mouthpieces I'd still like to get us into a little broader scope on the mouthpieces because I think there's a real good market for these kinds of mouthpieces but there is seemingly a flood of mouthpieces out there anymore just check eBay you'll find you can you comply him for five bucks I think maybe I'm not I'm not gonna guarantee you there that great but you know yeah the these are standard sizes of the industry which have been accepted and adored for quite some time so
Jeff: And at a fairly affordable price too
Steve: Quite affordable yes
Jeff: Yeah and you said you also distribute some instruments
Steve: Yes we started a couple years ago and haven't been a real effective with it yet but it's a it's a brand name of instruments Andalusia instruments, young man and I got together at the NAMM show and I went to his shop that also kind of doubled as a cigar shop I went in there
Steve: It was but you never you're in California anything goes in California, so but this young man his name is Vance Hu is his last name but he worked with a Chinese factory and developed some very very fine instruments some incredible instruments. As a matter of fact one of the soprano trumpets said that I really like is the one that uses the G bugle Bell so it's a very good resonant Bell on it and it's just different than anything else that's out there great marching sound I mean you're wonderful marching sound but you know we're just we're continually working on trying to get this product up and running in our in our market area so he's selling a lot of them on the west coast okay but I don't think there's a lot of traffic going on on the east side or the Mississippi so
Jeff: So with all the other things that you do, obviously this current pandemic has changed things quite a bit and its impact on local musicians which both of us are. As director of Truth In Jazz which is a big band, how has this current situation affected the preparation that were know we doing four we have a pretty busy summer season that we we try to gear up for.
Steve: Yes right now we're trying to get all the tunes together in a one location. I've already done a setlist for some of our programs if they happen to happen, I mean we still don't know if all of our right concerts are going to take place that's just something that is very you know, unpredictable at this point because everything's change so quickly and in this environment with this virus issue, but right now we're still scheduled to do the [Elkhart] Jazz Festival we're still scheduled to do a concert at Concord High School. We've had one cancellation of a of an event in May and we may have another one another Jazz Cafe but I'm hoping pretty much that we'll still be able to do our concerts in June and August in July actually June July and August because we're playing a couple jazz festivals but the main thing is getting everybody the music so they can sit down and they know what we're going to play and so that they can practice it and when we get together at our next rehearsal, whenever that happens to be when is deemed okay to get together with more than ten people and it seems like it's the number that numbers shrinking. It's tough if right now, it's really tough, and ITG [International Trumpet Guild] just got cancelled, yeah you know, a major event and that's not until the end of May. So part of the issue is you can't keep holding on to those rooms and you can't keep holding on to those plans lots of people flying you know that those kind of big events are a big deal and I can understand them cancelling early just to make it easier on people's pocketbooks and everything else, because there's a lot of investment and going to any of these shows, as you well know in conferences and as well as our [Elkhart] Jazz Festival there's a lot of investment, investment there and I'm guessing that we'll probably find something out pretty soon about how our jazz festival is going to go.
Jeff: right that's at the end of June so hopefully we have some time to still make that happen but we'll see.
Steve: I hope so. I'm that's that'd be tough year for us and see what do
Jeff: yeah it's a, it's been really interesting to watch a lot of our local musicians turn to internet concerts and Facebook concerts. And utilize this technology that's been in front of us all along but now they're, you know really trying to utilize it and, I'm sure you've seen a lot of that stuff going on.
Steve: Yes and I actually think that's a great thing. You know we talk about the arts all the time and those of us that perform, we should, put we should now spend a little bit more time sharing that with people. Because apparently everybody's really loving it and maybe that's a maybe it's a, just a different way, to communicate in a better way and in many cases it's not you know major expense to people to just watch something on Facebook and for those of us who perform in the community and for the kind of bands that we perform with, it's, it's just kind of a fun fun thing to see and fun thing to hear. And I think it just brings us together well I think, well the main thing to me that I'm seeing is how this we can't survive without music and music brings people together right.
Jeff: I couldn't agree more Steve. I want to thank you for being on the podcast and you can find Band Tool and Legend Brass mouthpieces at Octave at our website www.octavemusicstore.com and we'll also post links below once all this gets posted to YouTube and Facebook. And again thanks for being on the show and we appreciate it.
Steve: Thanks Jeff for having me appreciate itJeff: Awesome, thank you