Matt Morelock: A Hillbilly in Paradise

An interesting fact, according to banjo aficionado and hillbilly fashion plate Matt Morelock: His namesake music store on Gay Street has actually done better business since its owner quietly slipped away to paradise last fall.

Morelock and his partner, Hollis Church, moved to Kauai, the westernmost of Hawaii's seven populated islands, in October. Morelock still owns Morelock Music, and the store will remain open under the management of Bob Deck and John Phillips.

"The store does better in my absence than it does in my presence," he says.

Morelock and Church have been visiting Hawaii for the last several years; she had a house-sitting job there when they started their relationship, and Morelock accompanied her a few times. "After a while, we were going whether there was a house-sitting gig or not," he says. "Then some opportunities opened up for her and for me."

For Morelock, that means a possible instrument-manufacturing operation. "I met this guy who was going to start a manufacturing business with his brother, and then his brother passed away just before they got started."

The couple returned to Knoxville for the holidays and will be in town until the end of this month. Morelock also plans to come back in May for a few performances. After that, it may be a while before they visit again. But Morelock insists that his store will remain open for the foreseeable future, and he even has a plan for expansion: shipping the products from his manufacturing operation back to the Knoxville store, and possibly opening a store in Hawaii.

"They have a severe need of a funky music store on that island," he says.