Music is medicine.
That is according to Elmira’s Frank and Christina Corbett, musicians with nearly 25 years experience between them. Their most recent foray into the musical world doesn’t involve amps and guitars, however, as they’ve launched their own business called Promo a Go Go, with the goal of specializing in the sale of band merchandise.
“We’re in two bar bands together, and we found as far as promotional items go, people usually have t-shirts or CDs,” said Christina. “Since there isn’t a lot of money being in bar bands, we thought that a way of increasing our revenues would be to be able to sell some sort of merchandise, whether it is stickers, lanyards, key chains or things like that.”
Christina and her husband play in a London-based band called Blind Luck, a sax-driven R&B group, as well as the house band at the Central Tavern called Soul 2 Soul, which Frank described as a guitar-driven rock and roll band. The couple wants to take their love for music and apply it to the business end of the industry, which they say is underserviced, particularly at the lower levels of music.
“We know we’re not going to be rock stars. We’re just a bar band, right?” said Frank. “So this is our way of contributing to music and to give back to the music world.”
Their plan is to use their extensive connections in the music industry – they know bands not only throughout Waterloo Region, but the rest province and as far as Chicago and Nashville – to help them get their business off the ground.
They also have one thing going for them that many other similar companies might not: they themselves are musicians, and know what bands might want in terms of promotional material.
“We always have people come up to us asking if we have things for sale, whether it’s t-shirts or CDs,” said Christina, who plays bass guitar. “So we looked around and thought, ‘well, why don’t we just do this ourselves and cut out the middleman?’”
For now the business is a side-project, as both of them still have their full-time jobs. Christina works in town for an insurance company, while Frank is a self-employed tile installer. After 25 years of working on his hands and knees, though, the recently-turned 50-year-old said it was time for a change.
“Installing 300 feet of tile in one day used to be a breeze, and now I come straight home and lay on the couch and I’m done for the night,” said Frank, who plays guitar and sings. “I’d like to slowly get out of it and pursue this.”
The couple can also rely on some help from their family. Their son, Jake Robinson, has just completed his first year of graphic design at Fanshawe College and he has been a big help in designing posters and business cards for them.
“We always found it was a pain to find people who could do that in a short period of time and keep costs down,” said Christina. “[But] he can just whip them up for us. We tell him what we want, and he comes back with more than we expected.”
Likewise, they’re going to leverage their connections in the industry to get the business off the ground in true rocker style on June 6, when international recording artist Anthony Gomes comes to play at the Central Tavern.
Gomes, a Toronto-born singer, songwriter and guitarist, has had his last two recorded albums produced by the legendary Jim Gaines, who has helped produce work for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Santana.
Gomes has also appeared on stage with a who’s who of blues and rock legends, including BB King, Robert Plant, Buddy Guy, George Thorogood and Chuck Berry.
“He’s going to blow the doors off the place,” said Frank of the concert at the Central Tavern. “I’ll give him two years before he won’t be playing in bars anymore. If Robert Plant knows you, that’s pretty cool.”
The Corbetts have made music their life. Not only do they play in two bands, they also own at least eight guitars between them, they named their Bichon Poodle Starr – after Ringo Starr of the Beatles – and were even married last year at BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups bar in St. Louis, with Gomes himself officiating the service.
They also said that playing together has allowed them to have fun and keep their relationship fresh and exciting.
“It’s a good way for us to make a bit of money, be together, have fun, see all of our friends and we’re together, so that’s the bonus,” said Frank.
The couple’s hard work has started to pay dividends as well. Since they arranged for Gomes to play in Elmira and started advertising for it, they’ve heard from other bands and artists hoping to book gigs through them. That has opened up new doors that they didn’t even dream of when starting the business, and should allow them to diversify past just band memorabilia.
“We started with merchandise and now all of a sudden we’re starting to book bands, so we really don’t know what direction this is going to take us, but it’s going to be fun,” said Christina.
“If we can prove that we can do this, then we’ll bring in other bands, and not just blues bands but whatever the people want,” added Frank.
Anthony Gomes plays at the Central Tavern Monday night. For tickets, contact Frank or Christina at (519) 729-4909, (519) 729-3517 or email them, firstname.lastname@example.org.