By Michael Raine
, the land of great cymbals !” enthuses Murat Baslamisli , owner of Drummer ’ s Hangout in Aurora , ON , since its founding in 2015 . From his childhood years in Istanbul to a man with his own store north of Toronto , drumming – and drummers – have been his passion .
“ I was a very active child that played every sport imaginable and got interested in drums around the age of 12 . There was a set in the backstage of a local theatre and we used to sneak back and play it . First time I sat behind it , I played a basic 4 / 4 beat . I don ’ t know how or why , but I was able to ; I fell in love ,” Baslamisli recalls fondly . “ My other passion was tennis , so growing up , my life was tennis and drums . I went to a boarding school from age 12 ‘ til 19 and that had a huge effect in my life , mostly positive . I learned English , I played in school bands , learned about being on my own , being independent . So , when the time came for me to move across the Atlantic in ‘ 97 , I was like , ‘ Cool , no worries !’ I am never afraid of trying anything . After playing in various bands , some very successful , others not so much , I packed some luggage and a cymbal bag and came over here to try the music thing — played in bands , played gigs , recorded , toured . When the left wrist gave out on me , it was time to move on to other aspects of the music biz .”
Once the injury sadly forced Baslamisli to stop playing regularly , he did the next logical thing — got a job selling drums and teaching lessons . Working at a Long & Mc- Quade location , he ended up sticking with the national retailer for 13 years , ultimately running the drum department at the North York store .
“ That was my introduction to the business side of things . Retail has its ups and downs but I found I liked it . I tried to learn as much as I could from my managers and anyone who would answer my questions ,” he explains .
Over the years working in the drum department , he could feel an urge rising , “ that stupid itch ,” as he calls it , to open his own drum shop .
“ Once you work in a music shop , you start thinking about how you would do certain things if you had the full control . And I am a drummer and throughout the years I spent working retail , I found out drummers are a different bunch and they are much more comfortable in a specialized environment as opposed to a full music shop ,” he says . “ So , I started planning – both on paper and in my head – around 2014 and things started lining up fast . The kind of shop and environment I envisioned – I call it an old-school barbershop environment for drummers – was not going to happen where I worked , so I had to make it happen myself . We opened on Father ’ s Day in 2015 ; viruses and pathogens aside , so far so good !”
In the six years since founding Drummer ’ s Hangout , Baslamisli says the 2016 trip to Japan that Yamaha Canada organized for its dealers stands out , as does winning the award for Best New Business in Aurora from the town ’ s chamber of commerce in 2018 . “ But the thing that stands out for me the most are the clinics that we have done here – and hopefully more to come in the near future – with drummers like Larnell Lewis , Kenny Aronoff , Benny Greb , Aaron Spears , Mark Kelso , Dave Langguth , and Matt Garstka . I like events that bring the drumming community together . That ’ s why I have this shop . Drummers meeting other drummers that maybe otherwise would never get a chance to meet and hang out .”
For a man and a store founded on a unique vision for a hangout spot , the past 18 or so months has obviously been tough . When the store has been forced closed , Baslamisli says he been driving all around Ontario delivering products to customers . “ Online stuff is great , but I opened this shop for the in-store experience ; to be a hangout for drummers . I still have hope !”
Outside of the store , “ my little family is everything ,” he attests . “ My wife Sandy , my three-year-old daughter Olive , and myself , we live in Aurora , Ontario , only about five minutes from the shop . I love the fact that
I do not have a serious commute to work ! Olive is the centre of our universe right now , so the other activities MURAT ’ S DAUGHTER OLIVE have taken a bit of a back seat . But I will still play tennis as much as I can and we just came back from Istanbul where we visited family . Travel is necessary . I haven ’ t been to a movie theatre in a while but I love my movies . And at any given time , if I have less than five books on my nightstand , I feel uncomfortable . I suffer from a bibliophobia — I love to read !”
Looking to the foreseeable future , Baslamisli is hopeful . He ’ s hoping lockdowns will be over for good , and that Drummer ’ s Hangout can once again host clinics and , as its name says , be a hangout for everyone with a passion for drumming . “ I want the shop to keep growing and solidify its status as the destination place for good gear . I want to kill people with good service ! I want to develop personal relationships with my customers ,” he adds . “ I am not delusional , I know where the online world is going , but I still want the in-store experience to be the number one thing . I also want everyone in this industry to succeed and grow the size of the pie as much as we can . This is not a zero-sum game . Let ’ s make being in a band cool again !”
Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Music Trade .
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