The Neath music scene is going from strength to strength, according to local musician Leyton Thomas.
Leyton, who runs The Music Shop in Neath Market, and plays bass with popular local group iRock, says the community has been very supportive, and he is looking to expand the store in the future.
“Music plays an important part in the life of the area, for people of all ages. The guitar and music scene here is strong and getting stronger,” he feels.
Now in his fourth year of trading, in the longer term Leyton is looking to move to larger premises to display a wider range of goods.
“Business has been going well and we are eventually aiming to move to a larger place, but will definitely be staying in the locality.”
And he is delighted with the support he has received from the local authority and other agencies such as Tata Steel subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise.
A £500 Business Support Grant administered jointly by UKSE and Neath and Port Talbot Council enabled the store to buy a payment system which made the sales more efficient.
“Getting this grant was very helpful indeed,” said Leyton. “I have been delighted with the support and advice I have had, especially from Kevin Lugg at Neath and Port Talbot Council, and from the Enterprise Club. It has been invaluable in getting the business up and running.”
Glyn Thomas, Manager in Wales for UK Steel Enterprise, said:
“We are pleased to have been able to give strategic support to The Music Shop, working as we do with local agencies. It is vital that grass roots businesses receive the help they need to get established and create jobs, and stimulate economic activity in the local area.”
The music scene in the area is certainly vibrant. The annual Guitar Show is staged in the Town Hall, and Neath’s Great Guitar Gig attracts a great number of visitors. Local musicians in the town’s venues are well supported too.
The Music Shop sells a wide range of instruments, amplification and accessories, including Fender, Gretsch, Guild, Blackstar and other big-name brands.
Good quality electric guitars can be bought very reasonably these days.
“You can buy a full package with amplification for £200, and there are many local teachers to help you.”
The old-fashioned ukulele, popularised by the late George Formby, is making a comeback and is a major seller at the moment.
“It is an easy instrument to play and to have fun with, and is popular in schools,” says Leyton.
“Above all we see the business serving the community and helping to keep the local music scene strong.”