If you’ve heard the sound of music – not the musical, but literally just music — in Lindsay there’s a good chance Van Halteren’s was connected in some way.
Now a long-time business fixture in town, it was 45 years ago that Van Halteren Music Centre was established on Nov. 18, 1974 by Jerry Van Halteren and his younger brother, Zeger. It was created at the suggestion of Jerry’s wife, Grace.
She thought creating a music store made sense, given that Lindsay had lost its only music store less than a year earlier. Jerry paid a visit to the bank to see what his worth was and less than one month later Van Halteren’s Music Centre was open for business. Other music stores have come and gone but only Van Halteren’s has remained.
On a snowy day in January, nestled away in the subterranean lair of Van Haltern’s Music Centre on Wellington Street in Lindsay, we took time to speak with the musically-renowned Gerald Van Halteren.
“When I was 15 years old I remember working at Sam the Record Man when they had a store here in Lindsay, beside the Century Theatre. When I was young, I would eat, sleep and breathe guitar,” says Gerald, who was basically self-taught.
He remembers that his mom and dad were always musically inclined, with his dad involved with church music and his mom always singing.
At 16 years of age when the store opened, Jerry’s son John began working in the store and teaching guitar. John left high school the following year to join the business full time and continued teaching after school, evenings and weekends. John was also actively involved with local bands, playing live gigs at schools, bars and private functions.
Forty-five years later John, his son Jeremy, and Gerald are still doing what they can to keep music alive and well in Lindsay.
“My brother John mainly does the store stuff (and) I’m mainly involved with the teaching,” says Gerald, something he has been doing since he left high school.
“Mom got us involved with the Kinsmen Band,” he says, noting that Frank Banks was his first teacher.
“He was an icon here in Lindsay. I was learning trumpet and coronet, but I got my first electric guitar through the store here,” says Gerald.
Gerald says it’s quite unique to have a family-created business that’s now into its third generation.
“I’ve got two boys who have not produced any children, but they sure produce stellar music,” he says with a laugh.
Gerald hasn’t always lived in Kawartha Lakes.
“I remember moving to Toronto with some fellow musicians in the early 80’s — that was wild.”
If you’ve lived in the Lindsay area for any length of time you will have seen Gerald’s name associated with various regular gigs in town.
“I’ve been doing open mics and gigging in this town forever…since I was in Grade 8,” he says.
In fact, when the store opened Gerald was just 11 – now he’s nearly 57.
Van Halteren’s is now carrying the Martin guitar line, something they’re proud of to showcase.
“We service all the guitars and we maintain them,” says Gerald.
Van Halteren’s has an extensive variety of musical instruments and accessories, a full service technical department, print music department and on site music instructors. They also have an active rental department with P.A., sound systems and lighting for bands, DJs, weddings, political functions, and even horse shows.
Gerald thrives on performing live. He’s live every Thursday night at the Coach and Horses and at Boiling Over two Fridays in the month. Some of his favourite musicians and influences are Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and jazz guys like Stanley Clarke.
When he thinks back he can remember opening for Kim Mitchell and Teenage Head at the Armoury, or playing Bummers Lounge downstairs at the York Tavern. He even had a variety show on Cable 10 (now YourTV) but he remains most comfortable in the position of teaching and playing at live gigs.
“What I’d like to see for Lindsay, and the Kawartha Lakes especially,” says the multi-instrumentalist, “is more live music venues.”
When asked what he’d do if he won the lottery, he didn’t hesitate.
“Probably buy a really nice place on the water and build a super recording studio.”
You can find Van Haltern’s Music Centre at vhmc.ca