March 20, 2017


This is part of a series of local business profiles in the Town of Rocky Mount, Virginia.  For more information or to have your business featured in a future profile, please contact Josh Gibson at 540-483-0907 or

Downtown Music, in historic Downtown Rocky Mount, Virginia, offers music lessons on a wide variety of instruments as well as modern recording studio space.

Specifically, Downtown Music offers:

  • -  Private and group instrumental instruction for acoustic and electric guitar, piano, drums, ukulele, mandolin, violin, harmonica, banjo, resonator, bass guitar, fiddle, and band instruments
  • -  Performance opportunities for group classes
  • -  Individual or group instrumental and vocal instruction
  • -  Guitar and Amp repair, custom built equipment
  • -  Instrument Consignment
  • -  Recording studio, production packages

Nathan Bowman, owner of Downtown Music, says that "Our goal is to provide quality music education for students of all ages and skill levels. We support all genres, from bluegrass to southern rock and classical. Music is a fulfilling lifelong gift and we want to help you get the same joy from it that we do.  We also believe it is our mission to try and build a stronger community through music and relationships."

We chatted with Downtown Music to learn more about their studio and what they offer to the community.



How long have you been in business?  How long have you been in business in Rocky Mount?

Downtown Music has been in business for 15 years, and I have owned it for the past 4 year


What is the specific product or service are you famous/known for? 

We are well known for our lessons (including guitar, drums, piano, banjo, violin, vocals, ukulele, bass, and more).  We also have top notch studio space for recording, and we can repair and help sell instruments.   And then there is Keyster…




Tell us a little about Keyster.

Keyster is the street piano available all day every day for anyone to play (see above).  It sits in Downtown Music’s parking lot at 147 Franklin St. The goal is for people to “stumble upon something unusual and participate,” says music teacher Emily Blankenship-Tucker, who came up with the idea.

The piano is situated on a small outdoor stage in the music store’s parking lot. Right now it’s just the piano and a stool, covered by a tent. But there are plans to make the area more welcoming, with things like additional seating, a carpet and some drapes.

We have big plans too for this space, to sort of make it like a living room feel where people will come and jam and play.  We have already had several artists from he Harvester Performance Center stop in to play, makes videos, and post to social media. It is a cool idea and we think helps bring a little bit of the arts to our community while helping to bring folks together.

Take the time to read the full stories in the Roanoke Times and Franklin News-Post.  Excerpts here take from RT story.


What makes you most proud of your business?

The top of the list of things that make me proud are our teachers and students.  I love that we have a family and community vibe here.

We also have in house instructors and friends in some fantastic bands, including Seph Custer & The Papa Tom Band - Seph & TK and After Jack.  


Do you have a favorite quote, saying, or mantra related to your business?

“Work hard, rock hard, eat  hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need ‘em.”  -  Webb Wilder


Who is your favorite Rocky Mount business (not your own) and why?

That is a loaded question!!   All of the downtown businesses are great.  Everyone is friendly and like family.  We have each other’s backs.


What is your favorite thing about doing business in Town?

I like the kinship of everyone in Town.  The personal touches, and the easy going vibe.


Who is the dream celebrity endorsement for your business? Why?

LIVING: Tab Benoit – He is true to his roots, and sings and play with heart.  Very classy guy who understands small town values.


DEAD: Johnny Cash – He was a pioneer in the industry who thought outside the box.  He felt compassion for the people who were down & out, and wrote songs with meaning

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, phone, hat and indoor

As a part of Downtown Music's Teacher Feature Tuesday series, Rachel Blankenship-Tucker also interviewed Nate and DTM allowed us to include a couple of those answers below as well:


Acoustic or electric?


The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

You can’t always get what you want…

Who are your musical heroes?

Johnny Cash, Webb Wilder, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Muddy Waters, ZZ Top, Keb’ Mo, Tab Benoit, Alex Young, Dan Johnson, Emily Blankenship-Tucker, Seph Custer, and TK Wimmer.

What are you working on right now?

Establishing and growing Downtown Music, planning a stage cover for Keyster, stage managing at Harvester Performance Center, designing cabinets, raising two teenage boys, and loving my wife.


What's your favorite musical memory?

When I was a teenager, my favorite CD was Webb Wilder’s Hybrid Vigor. I knew every word to Human Cannonball. I was able to run sound and lights for him this fall and listen to him perform in Rocky Mount and I have never been more proud of our small town. Also, I have had some of our teachers play acoustically at my house around a campfire and that means more to me than any live concert.


What's your teaching style?

I start with the basics, learning chords, and then suit each lesson to the speed in which they are learning and the style they would like to achieve. I enjoy developing a relationship with all the Downtown Music students. I think we’re all in this together and I want to see them all succeed.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Today is all we have, I try to make the most of every day. To quote Webb Wilder, “Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need ‘em.”


Please take the time to visit the Downtown Music website at for more information on products, prices and services, or visit their storefront at 147 Franklin Street.  They are also active on social media, on Facebook and Instagram.  


 This is part of a series of local business profiles in the Town of Rocky Mount, Virginia.  For more information or to have your business featured in a future profile, please contact Josh Gibson at 540-483-0907 or