Swing City Music got its start in December of 1964 in the Orchard Shopping Center, with the first product line being Fender guitars.
Art Risavy started Swing City Music with a set of drum sticks, 1500 bucks in his pocket, and a dream. This dream was to help musicians with their musical needs. At first Art was the only employee and drum teacher in the store. Needless to say it was a difficult but exciting time. After success with Fender, Art was able to open two more lines; Ballwin and Magnatone. Though at times the road was hard, Art and his dedicated employees continued to strive towards creating a music store that could provide professional gear to musicians in need. At times writing payments of fifty dollars at a time to Shure Brothers and Baldwin, the store continued to grow. Sometimes Art would let bands start homegrown concerts in the parking lot of his location! These are some of his fondest memories. According to Art, “It was the place to be! “
The next location was an old TV shop at 1972 Vandalia Ave. This is where they housed the first Golden Eagle Studio.
The store would often be open 24 hours to service the needs of any musicians needing gear or service at any hour. When Art moved to this spot, he gave all the police officers in town free televisions that were left over. This location was 4 to 5 times larger than his first location. Art and his employees were now able to handle pianos such as Kohler & Kimball. These pianos were sold all over the USA to several Ramada Inns. In California, Art actually sold a grand piano to the Ramada Inn across the street from the largest Kohler dealer in the United States, which ruffled a few feathers. Art often recalls the time when he sold a 45 cent drum part to Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.
In the early 70’s Swing City Music opened a store in Missouri on Lindberg Avenue. The store was successful in bringing many of the same quality music instruments to customers in the Saint Louis area. Unfortunately, this location was short lived due to the proximity from Collinsville. Art needed to get back to his roots serving customers in his home town of Collinsville, Illinois.
The next location was an old tavern located at 601 Illinois St. in Collinsville. This store got so busy it didn’t even have a sign for the first 3 years of its existence. The studio was a huge success at this location. The booking agency that Art ran was also very successful at this time. At one point, Swing City Music was booking over 300 bands across the United States. This is where he started his stained glass company. One year the store put together the sound system for the Mississippi River Festival, providing sound systems for bands like The Who and The Rolling Stones.
In 1983 Art opened Swing City Music at the iconic Empire Bowl located at 1312 Vandalia in Collinsville. This was the main store location until early 2012. Here, Art explored other business ideas such as furniture sales and Jewelry. In the early 80’s Art was approached by the president of Fender guitars, Bill Schulz, for some jewelry work on the 40th Anniversary Stratocaster. Art and his partners created the Jewelry design for the headstock emblem as well as the ring found in the case. This allowed Mr. Risavy to start his jewelry business which is still thriving today. Stars like Gretchen Wilson, George Lynch, Juvenile, and members of Pink Floyd all visited this location. Grammy award winning trumpet player Phil Driscoll would often stop by the store to pick up essential gear when no other store in town could service his needs. More recently, Gretchen Wilson actually came into the store to buy a violin for her daughter in 2011. The store’s large guitar mural had also become an attraction for music lovers of all ages, often seeing High School seniors taking their class pictures in front of the painting.
In 2005, Art opened a store at 244 S. Buchanan St. in Edwardsville Illinois that is still open today. At this location, they specialize in music instruction and also set up gigs for their students in parks and venues around the area. There are a tremendous amount of devoted students at dec 26, 2014 – the Edwardsville location, which has become a hub for the promising talent of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon. Swing City Music is also committed to serving the Edwardsville band and orchestral students. Art says, “servicing the students of Edwardsville District 7 is very important to us. They are the musicians of tomorrow and we want to be there for them and their needs”.
The newest location is the award winning store at 1811 Vandalia in Collinsville, Illinois. Since moving here in February of 2012, business has again seen tremendous upswing. In early 2012, The City of Collinsville awarded Art the Carl Shultz Improvement award for positive impact the new store has had on the city. Opening lines such as Gretsch, Orange, Guilford, and Genz Benz has only increased the appetite of the customers who visit the beautiful show room. This location boasts an expanded lessons facility, flat screen TV’s, and a stage. The incredible showroom features over 600 guitars, basses, and keyboards. Serving musicians for alomost 50 years as a homegrown family owned and operated music supply house, Swing city music continues to grow with the innovations in the music industry. Our commitment is the same as when our owner started his first store. We continue to rely on friends, coworkers, and customers. The creativity and talent that they possess is what keeps our store alive and thriving. We are here to help get you the gear you need. From the owner, manager and staff at Swing City, thank you for your amazing support for almost 50 years! We look forward to helping you get the gear that’s right for you for many years to come.