Sweet Music brings southern hospitality to Oak Creek Market Place Village

July 7, 2014

Oak Creek — When Dana and Michele Clark opened Sweet Music in Market Place Village in Oak Creek in August 2012, they brought their southern hospitality with them.

The two operated a music store in Dana's native Mississippi before seeking to relocate to Wisconsin. They wanted a place that felt like home — literally.

Like many other tenants in Market Place, Dana and Michele's store is a duplex. The upper story is their home.

"I have to live where I work because I can't drive in snow," joked Dana.

Sweet Music, 8648 S. Market Place, is a full-service music shop. In addition to offering banjo, ukulele, guitar, bass guitar, piano and drum lessons, it offers string music repair and instrument sales and rentals.

Dana primarily fixes instruments, and Michele usually teaches all age groups — from 5 years old to 95 years old.

The two women have a rich history in music. Both started playing at young ages and grew up teaching lessons to peers and joined reputable music groups.

Dana was voted Best Female Musician in the Southern Voice Awards in 2009 and GA Voice Awards in 2010. Michele was a member of Bi-Centennial Singers in Pensacola, Florida, and taught guitar to Ruby Jane Smith, the youngest person ever to appear on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Michele was also awarded Best Band in Southern Voice Awards in 2009.

A note that carries

As professional and domestic partners, the two also play as a soft rock/retro duo called Sweet Music, playing original and cover songs from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. They call it "dessert for your ears."

"It's our life. It's what we do. It's who we are," Dana said.

Michele added, "I often wake up at night humming a tune."

Sweet Music's retro vibe carries a contagious tune throughout Market Place Village, where Dana and Michele have been known to play guitar duets in the courtyard.

"They're a hoot; they are two wonderful women," said Linda Dlugi, owner of Decorative Touch, neighbor to Sweet Music.

The shop has even brought in more foot traffic. Parents who wait while their children are in a music lessons tend to shop around the other stores, said Dlugi.

For Michele and Dana, opening the store in Market Place was about meeting a demand for expert musicians.

"If you try music and you fail, you just haven't found the right teacher yet" Dana said. "We're passionate about people learning correctly."

Even though many students use YouTube instructional videos to teach themselves songs, they still come into Sweet Music to learn music theory, Michele said.

"If you learn the notes, you can play anything you want," Dana said. "It's a universal language."

Sweet Music has also taught after-school guitar lessons at Oak Creek schools through Club 2:35, an after-school enrichment program, and is working with school bands to rent equipment.

Sweet Music is currently undergoing renovation but expects to reopen with a refreshed interior July 21.

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