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It’s all about the music

Root Notes: Live venue, recording studio & music store all in one

January 18, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

LAURIUM?- Root Notes is truly a hub for the local music scene.

The all-ages music venue and recording studio on Hecla Street in Laurium also features a music store all under one roof.

"Being that I'm a musician myself, I feel I have a pretty good grasp on a lot of the aspects of what people need," owner Josh Kocjan said. "I really enjoy being able to help out the local music scene."

Article Photos

Photos courtesy Root Notes
In addition to a live venue, Root Notes offers a digital multitrack recording studio and music store.

The music store, open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, offers new and used gear, as well as consignment items. Effects pedals, strings, cables, drum sticks and drum heads, along with a variety of local music, unique and custom guitars, and basses, is just the beginning of what customers will find at Root Notes.

Off-the-wall items "you wouldn't find at your normal music store," include Josh's custom Simpsons-theme guitar that he's been in the process of making. There's even a guitar shaped like a shark hanging on the wall.

"I try to carry a mixture of things that are more unique than just your standard run of the mill," he said. "If there's something somebody is looking for, I have no problems ordering things for people."

The shop does light repair work, and music lessons are available by appointment for guitar, bass, drums, piano and music theory.

Josh said his aim with the venue side of the business is to provide an alternative to fans and musicians having to go to a bar to perform. His focus is family-friendly entertainment and for that reason he doesn't allow carry-ins. Instead, water, soda, iced tea, energy drinks and small snacks are available for purchase.

Root Notes had its first show in May of 2011, and since then, Josh said he's had a variety of genres - acoustic, blues, folk, reggae, hip hop, rock, punk and metal - and two nationally touring acts perform.

"I had Bernie Larsen here and I had a Celtic punk band out of Chicago called Flatfoot 56," he said. "There were 150 people in here for that show."

A typical show runs Friday or Saturday night for about three hours in length and features two to three acts for a $5 cover charge, Josh said.

"Being that I kind of know how it works from the performer side I can make it a little easier on them because the bottom line is if a musician has an easier time, they have more fun, which translates to the audience and they in turn have more fun," he said. "What I feel makes this place better than some of the other places is the intimacy; and I have more stage lights, so that adds to the concert experience."

During the building's renovation process, Josh made a point to keep the stage lower than usual "because to me, that's a little more personal."

Keeping the performers in mind, he also created a small backstage lounge area with a ramp that allows musicians to wheel their equipment to the stage. Hanging on the lounge walls are posters from shows that have performed at Root Notes.

"My hope is that eventually there'll be enough shows that go on here that I can have all the walls covered entirely with posters," he said.

What has helped Josh get to know a lot of people is his wife Loralee Miller owns the bowling alley directly across the street.

"When I have shows, because it's no alcohol, I do offer a 'show your hand stamp across the street and get 50 cents off a drink,'" he said. "She has people over there who get to talking about music and she'll, in conversation, point them in my direction."

The third facet of the business is the digital multitrack recording studio. The studio includes separate rooms for vocals, drums and amps to allow for isolation and prevent bleed-through into the control room.

Josh also offers duplication, in-house or through a third party, as well as mastering, which is the step between mixing and the duplication phase.

"I've done quite a bit of work with Joe (Krainatz) of Copper Vein Records to promote local talent," he said. "I've had my hand in all of those records in one fashion or another."

While Josh recommends musicians use their own gear in the studio simply because they are familiar with it, he does have some instruments they can use.

"I do have several people I can call upon to sit in as session musicians," he added. "I like to keep the rates low, too."

Music has always been a big part of Josh's life growing up. His father is a music fan in the sense that he has a large record collection and together they share the names of artists they enjoy back and forth. Several of his family members, cousins and grandparents, were musicians, too.

"The best way I can describe it is I've grown up with an appreciation for music in my family," he said.

Josh said he didn't start playing music until 2001, but his parents purchased him his first drum set when he was 10. When he couldn't catch on to playing them, he sold his set to a friend.

"It went though about five people and then I got it back," he said. "Miraculously it came back so I use it here in my studio."

Root Notes is located at 320 Hecla St. in Laurium. For more information, call 369-4533 or visit or find "Root Notes" on Facebook.

Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Root Notes of Laurium. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.



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