Guest article by Gina Sigillito
When musicians, music professionals and music lovers walk into the newly-built, enormous, guitar and gear-filled space of LoudMouth Rentals in Northeast Austin, they are instantly hit by the feeling that something special is coming alive.
With enough room for several small stages and enough amps, drums, and lighting equipment to put on a large concert, it’s about to get noisy in this neighborhood, in the best way.
Located in the burgeoning area sprouting up along Airport Boulevard near 52nd Street, LoudMouth Rentals is the brainchild of Dan Yates and his wife Elyse, two veterans of the Austin music scene who know the challenges and experiences working musicians face everyday.
Dan is an experienced musician and Elyse is a successful businesswoman and the CEO of Influence Opinions, a digital marketing firm. Their mission is a noble one: to rent high-quality, low-cost gear to musicians, nonprofits, companies and music professionals at every level.
The Austinot sat down with Dan to discover more about LoudMouth’s mission, their dedication to musicians and music education, and their plans for this unique and much-needed addition to Austin’s music community.
The Beginning of a Musical Partnership
The story of LoudMouth begins with a good-old fashioned romance. Dan Yates was a young musician in the 1980s, playing clubs in his hometown of Lubbock with his band Eddie Beethoven and the Sons of Fun. The band was produced by Lloyd Maines and they began enjoying success as the writers of some of Joe Ely’s most popular songs like “Cool Rockin’ Loretta” and “Don’t Put a Lock on my Heart.”
Then Dan met Elyse Gilmore, the daughter of Texas legend Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who was attending college in Lubbock. It was a friendship that turned into much more. When she decided to move back to Austin, he went with her. “At the time, I was working part time at music stores and music equipment rental stores, and playing a whole lot of guitar,” Dan shared. He began touring with his famous father-in-law, as well as Monte Warden, as a guitar player. He also formed his own band, The Lords of Love, before starting to think about pursuing an education.
On a bet from Elyse’s grandmother, he decided to take a hiatus from music and attend college. “I had always made these sort of boasting threats to go back to college and get a degree in Engineering.” He began by taking one algebra class at The University of Texas. Four years later in 2001, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.
Dan went to work for the Lower Colorado River Authority, specializing in water resources, but music was still in his blood. He wanted to create something of his own. As he recalls, “Starting a business came about when I saw my 401K take a giant hit. I thought, I’m going to need some kind of a business when I retire. And then I thought, why not now?” With encouragement from friends in the music industry and the help of Elyse and her business associates, LoudMouth Rentals was born.
The Art of Noise
Dan already had strong vendor relationships with music companies like Peavey Electronics and funds to invest in the business. “I took my savings, that 401K money and I figured Elyse and I could do better than Wall Street.”
Dan knew there was a place in the market for a consumer-focused music rental company, and he knew he wanted his business to be as dedicated to everyday musicians as it was to professionals. His experience as a working musician made him all the more sympathetic to the costs and challenges Austin artists face. As a consequence, LoudMouth is incredibly affordable. Dan asserts, “It can be challenging when you’ve got a show and you know the gig only pays so much. I try to keep these prices really low, and hopefully play a part in helping out.”
What sets LoudMouth apart is the quality of their customer service. In addition to the best musical instruments, they offer PA systems, amps, lighting, recording gear and DJ equipment. They also sell new and used instruments and offer unique services such as tech repair, online reservations, equipment repair and delivery and set up services.
Music as a Healing Force
In addition to being an integral part of the Austin music community, Dan and Elyse are dedicated philanthropists. They have recently joined forces with Kids in a New Groove, a Texas based organization dedicated to bringing music education to children in foster care.
Dan was looking for a charity to work with and with his philosophy of giving back to the community, particularly when it comes to Austin’s children, Kids in a New Groove was the perfect fit. “Elyse and I used to sponsor case workers who worked with foster kids. These kids would often need a plane ticket or a Christmas present and the social workers were paying for it out of their own pocket.” Kids in a New Groove appealed to him because it is more of a mentoring program, in which teachers have a one-on-one relationship with their students.
Grand Opening Party
In celebration of this new partnership and the official christening of their store, LoudMouth Rentals will hold host a grand opening party to benefit Kids in a New Groove at their space, featuring live music from Elizabeth McQueen, Gina Chavez and of course his legendary father-in-law, Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Dan hints that there will be special music guests, as well as some performances from Kids in a New Groove.
The party, slated for December 4, 2014, will be held in LoudMouth’s brand new space at 5207 Airport Boulevard. Dan is as much a fan of Austin music as he is a professional musician and promises a night of incredible performances. “I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth McQueen since she was with Asleep at the Wheel.” He also counts Austin hip-hop duo Riders Against the Storm as one of his favorite local bands.
The Future of LoudMouth Rentals
Dan is excited about the area Loudmouth has chosen, musing that it feels much like the Austin he moved to in 1989. “It reminds me a lot of Lamar when I lived there, and it was very similar to this. I’m digging what’s going on on Airport Boulevard right now.”
He is still playing music, currently in the rock band the Everydudes. He also looks forward to working with other charities involving music and kids. As he recalls, “Music made a big difference to me at that age.” He and Elyse are also combining their business acumen to form the LoudMouth Lounge, where up and coming local bands will play during a party at the space once a month.
As a couple, Dan and Elyse Yates are incredibly impressive and their success is sure to translate to this new business. Dan is a member of the Austin Music Foundation Collaborative and Elyse has spearheaded campaigns for companies like car2go, the ASPCA and the Hill Country Conservancy, to name a few. With their passion for music, combined with their love for this city, they are certain to bring a whole new sound to Austin’s music scene.
The December event is open to the public and will be held from 6-8 PM. Anyone who wants to attend can RSVP to LoudMouthRentals.com.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Do you think there is a need for low cost equipment rental in Austin?
Gina Sigillito is a writer, music promoter, and owner of Ginaraq PR. She is also the author of three books and a member of The Authors Guild, The Professional Writers of Austin and The Recording Academy, Texas Chapter.