Opinion: Musician’s Workshop owners to embark on a well-deserved retirement

todayNovember 30, 2023 3

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By John Boyle,

When Frank Dosier was 16 and attending Asheville High, he had no intention of becoming a pillar of the local music scene. He was thinking engineering, or maybe law, would make a nice career.

But he was young and simply needed a job, and his only experience was cutting grass in the summers. He couldn’t even drive yet. One day after his mom had picked him up from school, she noticed a sparkling drum set on prominent display at Moritz Music on Merrimon Avenue.

Frank played trumpet and French horn and had a passion for music. Suddenly, mom had an employment idea for her boy.

“So she took me home and made me clean up and put on nice clothes, and she brought me back and dropped me off at that door and said, ‘You go talk to him,’” Dosier said, referring to John Moritz, the owner. “I was 16 years old, and he hired me.”

It was not quite the financial windfall young Frank had envisioned.

“I was making less than minimum wage, and that hurt my feelings  — a lot,” Dosier said with a laugh. “I made $1.10 an hour, and minimum wage was $1.25. And then you get your first paycheck after they take out taxes and Social Security…”

In the end it worked out just fine. More than five decades later, Dosier, now 72, and his wife, Becky, 70, are ready to sell the business, which they renamed Musician’s Workshop long, long ago. The couple bought the business in 1977 and over almost a half-century transformed it into a community hub for generations of professional musicians, amateurs, and music lovers in general.

That includes me. I’m a terrible guitar player, but I love visiting this store and dreaming about owning some of these gorgeous instruments.

The news that the Dosiers plan to shut down the business and retire at the end of the year hit the local music scene hard. Besides selling fantastic Taylor acoustic guitars and an array of other acoustic and electric guitars, drums and associated gear, the Dosiers have indeed become pillars of the local music industry — and one of the few remaining locally owned music stores around here.

‘You changed the trajectory of my life’

After a Facebook video broke the news mid-month, the tributes for the beloved store — and the Dosiers — poured in. Well-known local singer-songwriter Andrew Scotchie was among those offering personal stories about their connections to the shop.

“Musician’s Workshop was where I started lessons at age 10 and years later, it was my first on the clock job,” Scotchie wrote. “It’s where I got my first Fender amp and Telecaster [guitar]. Frank, Becky, Brian and the entire crew have been so good to me and the Asheville scene in general. I will miss this staple of our town.”

Another professional musician, Anne Coombs, 69, said she got her first teaching job at Musician’s Workshop.

“You changed the trajectory of my life with that opportunity as well as the lives of others in so many wonderful ways,” Coombs wrote. “I am forever grateful.”

In a followup phone interview, Coombs said she started teaching at Musician’s Workshop in the mid-1990s, which inspired her to start Asheville’s first community music school. The Dosiers have known and supported just about every music act in town, Coombs said.

Even recently, when Coombs came into town to play a gig, she stopped by Musician’s Workshop to get a guitar restrung.

“I don’t know any other way to explain it except to say, you walk in and you know you’ll be taken care of — and you feel like you’re home,” Coombs told me. “They know you and they know what musical projects you’re working on. They’re just very accommodating.”

The Dosiers are Asheville natives — Frank grew up in North Asheville, Becky in West Asheville — who met while students at UNC Asheville. While Becky was ready to retire and spend more time with their two young grandchildren five years ago, Frank has been more reluctant to make the leap.

“My thing I’ve said for so long is every 50 years you ought to try something new,” Frank said with a laugh. “Except that I missed it — this is 56 years.”

Trying something new does not apply to their marriage, by the way. The Dosiers will be married 50 years in August, and they say working together has been “great.”

It helped that they ran the business well between them and didn’t end up with disputes.

“If we ran it poorly, it would just be a horrible burden, all day, all night,” Frank said.

In short, no one has smashed any guitars. About the only source of tension has been Becky’s desire to get the retirement train rolling.

“She was very patient in the fact that I didn’t buy into retiring and leaving a long time ago,” Frank said. “Because this is her store — she’s equal. But I’ve been here longer, and I grew up in music, and I grew up playing music in high school and with all kinds of people that are still around.”

In short, it’s been tough to leave.