Rush Mor mounts great music on tight community
You won't find any presidents' heads carved in rock at the Rush Mor in Bay View, but you'll most likely find the friendly faces of record shop owners Bill Rouleau and Dan Duchaine. (There's also a creepy smiling clown on the Web site.)
Rouleau, 38, grew up in the neighborhood and shopped at Rush Mor, 2635 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., since he was knee-high to a Sex Pistol. He and Duchaine, who grew up on the northwest side, bought the already long-established independent music store in 1996.
"It was teetering on the brink of extinction due to a former manager's thieving ways, and the owner was gonna close it, but he offered us a chance to purchase it," says Rouleau.
Since then, they have managed to carve out a niche for their shop -- with the help of dedicated employee Matt "The Ratt" Davis -- and remain one of a few surviving independents in the city including Atomic, Farwell Music, Lotus Land and Record Head.
"We consider ourselves a boutique for music aficionados and hopelessly addicted freaks looking for a song that they heard on the car radio in North Dakota in 1982 on a family trip to Idaho," says Rouleau. "We cater to those whose thirst for music extends beyond what they are fed by commercial radio."
Special orders are a big chunk of their sales, and Rush Mor features new and (some) used CDs, imports and 12-inch records from most genres, including alternative, Euro rock, progressive rock, rockabilly, punk, modern, real country and classics.
""You'll always find The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds,' Can's 'Tago Mago!,' My Bloody Valentines 'Loveless' and the like here," says Duchaine. "We sell the stuff that the big guys don't indulge in. Our specialty is the stuff that's a little left of the dial."
Unlike super-slick chain stores, Rush Mor is what music buffs call a "real" music store. It's gritty, well organized and staffed by cats who know their tracks; a place where Jack Black might work.
Prior to running Rush Mor, Rouleau and Duchaine both worked as music promoters and brought a lot of bands to Milwaukee. Rouleau also managed the Pride of Milwaukee marketplace in the Grand Avenue Mall, where he learned from owners Paul Miller and Kevin Callahan that a business can be an active and positive force in a community.
Today, both Duchaine and Rouleau live in Bay View and are highly committed to the area.
"I am raising my dog here and want him to grow up in a good neighborhood," says Rouleau, who hosts a music show on WMSE every Monday from noon to 3 p.m. (His on-air name was "four eyes" but was changed to "faux eyes" after his Lasik surgery.)
"There is a definite feeling of growing community here. We try to do events that strengthen and deepen the bonds of our social and neighborhood scenes," he says.
Rush Mor organizes two bi-annual bicycle pub crawls of the area, one in summer, the Tour de Farce and Biketoberfest on the first Friday in October. More than 100 people participated in each of the last few events.
On Oct. 10 they will host the first "Dog Day Afternoon," a parade/dog blessing for the neighborhood canines. Stay tuned.
But their favorite event, South Shore Water Frolics, falls every second weekend in July.
"For us it is like Christmas in July. We spend too much time and even more money building a float for the parade (which features local icon Rhythm Chicken) ... All of our friends and family gather on the corner where they cajole and harangue local politicians that are brave enough to enter the parade."
Rouleau says he also hopes to plan a Rush Mor/Palomino golf outing.
"But I can't really claim that that is about community as much as skipping work, drinking and having fun," he says.
Rush Mor's hours are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (414) 481-6040.
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