Rock concert posters star at new Reno store

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Updated: 5/18 8:27 pm

RENO, Nev. (AP) — He inched closer to the edge of the couch and sat up straighter. His excitement grew as he described his new shop: "black walls, better lighting, gritty and dingy feeling, but that's the intention."

Scotty Roller, widely known in the community as the deep-voiced front man and guitarist of the 17-year-old rockabilly Reno band, the Saddle Tramps, is venturing into a next phase of his music career.

He's opening Rock City Posters in Midtown just south of the downtown Reno casino district. And he thinks the Biggest Little City in the World has grown up enough to give it a go.

"Is it a little too big city for Reno? Maybe. But at some point, when is it not? And why would somebody in Reno not appreciate it the same as somebody in Seattle?" Roller said.

"It's a way for me to stay involved in music. My hearing has been blown out so bad that even if I wanted to keep touring, I physically can't anymore," Roller said. "It allows me to stay in the business in a different facet and continue to enjoy, and work with, bands. And, it gives everyone else another way to be involved in music."

The idea for the store came to him during a trip to Germany last fall. He said he met a European poster artist, who asked him, "Why am I not selling anything?" It struck him then if he increased his odds — or provided multiple artists' work under one roof — the probability of selling art would increase. He said art is subjective and sales rely on taste.

That became the basis for Rock City Posters.

Roller said the store will display hundreds of different band poster artists and offer mostly screen printed posters, but there will be some vintage and Fillmore posters and photography. He said all posters will be guaranteed with a Certificate of Authenticity and there will be rare posters from record labels including Geffen Records' Nirvana poster "Nevermind."

Buying bands posters' is another way to support live music because the posters are created by artists who were commissioned directly from the bands, he said.

"Is it a little too big city for Reno? Maybe. But at some point, when is it not? And why would somebody in Reno not appreciate it the same as somebody in Seattle?" Roller said.

"Everyone raves about Austin, Texas and New York City, and that's great, but at one time they were culturally starved, also. Somebody had to step up, not take the easy way out and bring something they knew of to town. That's what I'm doing."

Inside the store, the walls will be painted black. Roller said he wants customers to see the posters the way they were intended to be seen — in a club.

"A gig poster always hung in a dingy club with bad lighting against black walls. I want the charm of the unrefined presentation to help make these posters speak like they were intended to," Roller said. "The colors also jump out at you, and when you hear the music going on and you're looking at the artwork, it's a rock poster. It's not a piece of fine art."

Throughout most of his life, Roller has been surrounded with art and music.

He said he remembers watching his father create art out of their house as a freelance artist in Anaheim, Calif. — a career path Roller also pursued — and he often created flyers for bands or painted murals on buildings.

It was in the late-2000s that Roller's passions for art and music collided.

He said the Tramps were still touring full time, but he knew he would need to think about his future career options. He started Scotty Roller Designs in 2007. And, through persistence he equated to that of the paparazzi, he also began creating posters for musicians.

"You talk with the bands and sometimes they have an idea of what they want and sometimes they say, 'I love your stuff; do something cool,'" Roller said.

Rock City Posters is Roller's second attempt at a retail business.

In 2000, he opened a hair salon, the Beehive Hair Co. He said he opened it for the wrong reason_so he wouldn't have to work for someone else.

It closed its doors three years later.

The experience, however, was invaluable and has allowed him to look at business details he missed the first time around.

"I've had a lot of things stack up against me that I just keep trudging through," Roller said. "I've had investors gracefully decline, but I've had some banks and people give me some help. I've called in every favor from everyone I know, and I've put in every last dollar I have. I've got a lot of people helping me who want to see this open, and I have a lot of people saying 'You're out of your mind.' Both sides are totally correct."

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

 

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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