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Beyond the records

Music is more than just a lifestyle for this local record shop

By Chris Rugowski

The storefront of Rock n’ Roll Land. The record store will be the only one in Green Bay starting in early July. Chris Rugowski Photos

Since 2012, Todd Magnuson has been bringing local, regional, national and even international acts to Rock n’ Roll Land.

Located at 504 S. Military Ave., Magnuson said the record shop has expanded from two bins of new records to more than 16 bins and counting.

In addition, the used selection includes thousands of records, tapes, CDs, DVDs, audio equipment and – for those with a working player – laser discs.

Magnuson said what sets Rock n’ Roll Land apart in the record business is its staff’s collective depth of knowledge – making music their lives in one way or another, and stressing the importance of a customer’s relationship to music.

As Rock n’ Roll Land will soon be Titletown’s only record store – following the July closure of The Exclusive Company – Magnuson can’t help but look at the niche it has always filled, and plans to continue to fill, moving into the future.

Second verse

Magnuson said Rock n’ Roll Land wasn’t his first foray into the music world.

He said he owned a bar back in the ’90s and hosted bands such as Annex when they were young enough to still need their parents to get them into the bar.

With Rock n’ Roll Land, Magnuson said he saw an opportunity to create a home-away-from-home for younger bands, and to be able to help them seize the “magic moments” before they made it big by offering an all-ages, live music venue – one of the only in the area – to the local music market.

“It’s those kind of magic moments in a bands’ life that I like to say, ‘Hey, I was a part of that early on,’” he said. “‘We had them here twice before anybody knew who they were.’”

An appreciator of all types of music – from rockabilly to rap – Magnuson said he’s been a music nut his whole life.

Though, he said he’s never been a player of instruments.

“I’m not one to shy away from one genre versus another,” he said. “We’ve had metal, punk, rock, hip-hop to just acoustic shows.”

Offering support

Because of his willingness to support all kinds of genres, Magnuson said he’s not scared to take chances with a variety of bands.

“I’ve always liked bringing something that’s never been here, never been to Green Bay, as far as a genre or band,” he said. “Sometimes it’s crossing my fingers that there’s a good turnout for them, and then hoping the next time they come around, there’ll be twice as many people here, which has always kind of happened.”

Magnuson said a great example of this is The Native Howl, a band that has played at Rock n’ Roll Land, and as of 2022, has secured an opening spot on the current GWAR tour.

When it comes to shows in general, Magnuson said he has worked with Will Liebergen, owner of The Lyric Room, for the last five years to get touring bands into the area who might not necessarily fit into Rock n’ Roll Land.

He said it’s a win-win for everyone, as the partnership provides support for local and touring bands, and for the venue itself.

When asked about his favorite memories of Rock n’ Roll Land’s place in the music scene, Magnuson said he had a plethora of them.

“It’s just always been my pleasure, honestly,” he said. “From the bar days with Annex when they were 17-18 years old, to Rock n’ Roll Land with Motra, who was 15-16 years old, it’s just so cool to watch these kids and young bands grow. I still see Paul Hanna (Annex) as a little kid with his mom and dad in front of a smokey bar crowd back in the ’90s and how excited they were, and all these years later he still has the excitement in his face. I love watching these kids grow up to be really talented musicians, as they continue their musical careers.”

COVID pandemic, future potential

Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rock n’ Roll Land was forced to shut its doors to live music for the past nearly three years.

Now that things have mellowed out some with the pandemic, Magnuson said he is ready to embrace the all-ages venue at full capacity again.

“Getting back into doing shows here has kind of been my goal,” he said. “But now with this whole transition of Exclusive Co. being gone soon, I’m trying to think about the location, bigger location. And there might be a place for a permanent all-ages venue.”

Magnuson said he’ll share those details if and when they come to fruition.

Green Bay’s soon-to-be only record store is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To keep up with Rock n’ Roll Land, follow its Facebook page.

Chris Rugowski is a photojournalist from Green Bay, who mainly focuses on event photography, with an emphasis on bands and music.

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