A couple of notable developments are in the works for banjomeister Matt Morelock's professional life. First is that he's finally getting ready to open his long-awaited downtown music store, to be known as Morelock Music, on the 400 block of Gay Street. A beta version of the store will open on Nov. 1 at 403 S. Gay St., with the full store opening at 411 S. Gay when interior and exterior renovations are finished.
"The proposed idea is having instruments, small goods, and stage essentials," Morelock says. "I also want it to be an on-call stage emergency place—if you break a string onstage you don't have to stop your show. I want to put a vending machine outside mounted to the wall with strings and picks and cables and batteries."
Morelock Music will also provide music lessons and function as a small studio space at night. Morelock hopes to open a combination record and CD store/newsstand/coffee shop in an adjacent space in the same building.
"The plan is to start small and respond to the needs of the community in Knoxville," Morelock says. "But I want it to be a weird place. I want it to be a place where musicians can hang out and downtown lawyers can come in and buy a guitar."
Morelock initially planned a combination retail space and performance venue on Central Street in the burgeoning Downtown North neighborhood, but prospects for that venture fell apart during the real estate crash.
The new business will take most of Morelock's time, which leads to the second career development: After 10 years at WDVX, most publicly as host of the weekday Blue Plate Special series, Morelock is leaving the award-winning non-profit roots radio station.
"I'll be on hiatus from WDVX," he says. "I'm not calling it a permanent exodus. I'll only be a block away, and I'll definitely stay involved. I love this place, and it's my intention for the store to become an appendage not just of WDVX but all local radio stations and the music scene."
WDVX general manager and program director Tony Lawson says replacing Morelock at the studio will be a team effort.
"Red [Hickey] might be doing most of the hosting duties, and Thomas Boyd and myself will handle some of the other chores," Lawson says. "Matt's a great, flamboyant person with lots of energy, and I'm really happy for him for starting his own business. But he'll still be tied to the station."