Energized 22-year-old owner has big plans for the future
By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – Christy Music might be one of the most recognizable business names in Slidell since the longtime store has been in operation here for nearly 45 years.
And now, the new owner is an excited 22-year-old who is living his dream of running Slidell’s iconic business and is ready to ramp up the Christy Music name in the region like never before.
Sean Murray is probably still pinching himself each morning as he prepares to go to work at Christy Music, a place he first began working at the age of 16.
“I always loved the store and working here,” he said. “I mean, how cool is it to work in a music store if you love music the way I do?”
Christy Music was first opened in 1978, but the owners most Slidellians know is Nick and Susan Messina, who purchased the store in 1984 and kept it going through the challenges of Hurricane Katrina, a fire in 2016 that destroyed the former location on Robert Boulevard, and then the COVID lockdowns that started in 2020.
Nick and Susan were friends with Murray’s parents and one evening as they were all out for dinner, the Christy owners tossed out an interesting proposal.
“They asked my dad if he wanted to buy the store,” Murray said. “I knew they had been talking about retirement, but the idea of me ever being the one to take it over never really crossed my mind.”
Later that night, Murray said his dad approached him to discuss the possible purchase, something that was possible since he had been saving money for years from working multiple jobs.
“My dad said I was always heading in the direction to take over and he asked if I would be interested to be the new owner,” Murray said. “Fortunately, my mother was the one who taught me how to save money and it was because of her aid that I had enough to purchase the business.”
Born and raised in Slidell, Murray graduated from First Baptist School in 2019 and then attended college for nearly three years, studying bio-med. But he said his heart wasn’t in that career, so he put the college courses on hold and kept working at Christy Music until the stunning development was finalized in August. Since then, he is considering ways to get the Christy Music name out in the community beyond the regular musicians and schools they have dealt with for many years.
“Susan and Nick did such a great job building the brand name here so anyone in Slidell who has any connection to music knows Christy Music,” Murray said. “That gives me a great start to build on and now I’m going to try and expand our name to the people in the community who aren’t as aware about music.”
Christy Music is already sponsoring bands in Slidell parades like Mona Lisa and Moonpie, the Krewe of Dionysus and Krewe of Selene where the business name will get more exposure. He is starting regular musician nights at the store, created a new logo and even plans on hosting a “Picture with Santa” this Saturday, Dec. 3 from 1 to 3 as a way to help display the extensive array of equipment and accessories they offer. They have also partnered with local music events such as doing work with a band for the Slidell food truck festival and sponsoring the Ozone Music Festival in Mandeville.
As for the challenge of competing with the bigger stores, Murray said the hometown feel created by Susan and Nick will continue to be critical to their success.
“Why come to us instead of bigger stores? Because everyone working here is experienced in music. Yet, we are a hometown store with the kind of customer service you won’t get at big box stores. And all of the people working here are highly qualified instructors, musicians, and techs, so we know how to help you,” he added.
Murray said that many people are surprised to find that Christy supplies all the instruments and music to local schools with bands. And they have talented music teachers for virtually any instrument you want to learn.
Bill Crawford is a veteran teacher of Christy’s, having been there for many years besides his other job playing in some of the top regional bands.
“Bill gave me my first guitar lesson and he is still giving lessons to everyone else,” Murray said. “Then Susan still teaches, and I began teaching a year ago.”
Murray’s connection to music began when his parents bought him a guitar after seeing his interest in guitar players on TV.
“When I had my first lesson with Bill, he asked what I liked and I said, ‘Smoke on the Water, by Deep Purple.’ So, he taught me how to play it,” Murray said. “That’s what is so great about him. He takes every new student and has a blank music book, then starts putting songs in there for them to learn whatever music they like.”
Murray’s first on-stage performance was at the First Baptist School talent contest when he and one other friend in the sixth grade played, “Don’t Stop Believing.”
“It was frightening to be on stage, but we did pretty well, and it was like lighting the flame that started the fire of my real interest in music,” he stated.
Murray has also played in small bands that perform in coffee shops and small events, doing acoustic gigs and any other opportunities to play they can find. But now, his real interest is focused on growing Christy Music.
Along with music lessons of all kinds, the store has a wide assortment of guitars, drum sets, keyboards and all other kinds of orchestra and band instruments. The store also does repairs on all instruments through a group of talented, certified technicians, and they sell sound equipment to outfit the biggest or smallest bands.
Murray is also ramping up the other aspect to the business of handling sound for special events, or installing sound systems in churches, other buildings or anywhere someone needs a professional sound system.
“Most people don’t know we do sound for pretty big events,” he added. “We’re ready to handle most anything and that’s something we want to expand in the future.”
Along with a new computerized purchase system in plan, their new website will soon be ready for sales online. Once he gets settled in and gets past the idea that he is only 22 years of age, and now the owner and manager of Christy Music, Murray hopes for bigger things down the road.
“I want Christy Music to become a model for a local music store, and then see the store in other places,” he said. “I think we already have the foundation for it, so I want to build on what Susan and Nick have created here. It’s like a dream for me to get to do this.”
Christy Music is located at 1571 Gause Blvd. (in the Hobby Lobby Shopping Center) and can be reached at 985-641-6175. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 to 6. You can also find them on Facebook or online at: Christymusicslidell.com
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