Inside an old brick rowhome on North Charles Street, the walls are lined with dangling guitars, vibrant show posters, and a cheeky “No Stairway to Heaven” sign to keep patrons from playing the opening lick of Led Zeppelin’s ubiquitous song.
In a time when large corporations and online retailers swallow up mom-and-pop shops, there are still a few determined fighters, like siblings Brian and Ian Goldstein with their new-and-used instrument store, fittingly named Brothers Music, in Station North. Three years ago, the brothers—hobby musicians of the former Towson band Evolve—noticed a lack of independent music shops in Baltimore.
Two-and-a-half months later, the Goldsteins, along with Ian’s now-wife Jenny, opened Brothers with no past business experience and used equipment from Craigslist to stock their shop. In between their full-time careers (Ian, right, is a government affairs specialist in Washington, D.C., and Brian, left, is a special education public school teacher), the brothers have grown the store to include drums, locally made pedals, and even rare pieces, like a 1966 12-string Wurlitzer. But Brothers Music is more than a cozy shop with a “Corporate Chains Still Suck” motto.
Moved to action by the 2015 Baltimore Uprising, the Goldsteins have prioritized local engagement and community outreach—they’ve petitioned for street lighting, hosted food drives, and done meet-and-greets with mayoral candidates.
The Station North store is also a frequent stop for local musicians, among them members of Future Islands, Wye Oak, and Black Lung.
“It’s our go-to,” says Jeff Koplovitz of Baltimore indie band Surf Harp. “They’re knowledgeable about what they have without being pretentious gearheads. They just want to help their fellow musicians and give them a personable experience—something you can’t get from a Guitar Center or Amazon.”