For many readers of this site, when you have picked up an Ahead product or an Istanbul Agop there really is no thought given to who is behind bringing your recent purchase to your local retail shop, and why would you? Your relationship is, with the exception of the online purchases, with the guy behind the counter. However, as testament to one man’s mission to serve your local retailer, and with a massive 30th anniversary under their belt, we thought it was fitting to recognise the work of BR Distribution.
Barry Race, he of the BR in the title, started his music industry career in 1980 working for the then UK Tama distributor Summerfields. This was the decade of asymmetric haircuts and gated snare sounds, and the fact that they also distributed Ibanez and Guild guitars and D’Addario strings meant that he was kept very busy.
Barry became General Manager in 1982, but after a few years working with these global companies, he decided to go it alone, and in 1987, went solo and set up a drum tutor book retailer out of his house – if you are old enough, you may well remember the quarter page adverts in the drumming press of the time. A lot has happened since the ‘home based’ days, but while the company has stayed in the County Durham area, it now has its own distribution base in Stanley.
Back at the start, Barry also sold Shaw sticks along side the books, but 1989 saw things moving up a gear when he acquired distribution rights for Ahead and Roc’n’Soc stools. Ten years ago he took over UK distribution of Istanbul Agop, which means along with Hendrix drums (high end, hand made stave drums), Treeworks (custom chimes from Nashville), Big Fat Snare Drum dampers, and some 40 other brands, and hundreds of individual products, theres a lot going down at BR. Istanbul Agop are also celebrating Barry’s 30th anniversary by producing 30 custom individually numbered cymbals, AND he’s just taken over the distribution of Kickport products. True to his drumming roots, Barry’s products are exclusively for us drummers and percussionists.
And to prove he hasn’t sold out to the forces of distribution, Barry is still playing and can be found with the ‘Groove-A-Matics’ band, around the north East. He’ll probably be playing his vintage natural maple Camco set along with something from his collection of snare drums he has amassed over the years.
Of course, being distributors ‘BR’ don’t sell directly to the public although they are constantly giving product information and advice as to where you can buy their product. In order to help this exchange of information they have tried to make their website as easy for us drummers (and the retailers) to use. They now sell their products to the UK and to various parts of Europe and import from all around the world.
Its rare for a small distributor like BR to be so embedded into the music industry, and Barry himself is known by probably every single drum and percussion retailer in the UK, which says something of Barry’s determination and personality.
So, we here at Mike Dolbear.com would like to congratulate BR Distribution and particularly Barry himself for all the work he’s put in over the last 30 years, and raise a glass to the next 30.
From all at mikedolbear.com