Local Business Spotlight: More than a century of sweet sounds at Union Music

“I started working [here] when I was 9 years old (1955), which was about the same time that my grandfather gave me a guitar. … And I still play classical guitar,” said Carl Kamp, owner and president of this three-generation family business. Trusted for instrument purchases, repairs, lessons and expertise, Union Music’s rambling old store on Southbridge Street echos with notes of history as it keeps today’s musicians supplied and inspired. Which makes it an apt entry in our Survivor Series, highlighting Worcester businesses standing the test of time.

Ukulele players string together a community at Union Music

“I couldn’t have the club meet in a bar or a hotel. But I knew that Union Music has a performance space that can hold 50 performers. So I approached Carl and he thought it was a great idea,” said Rich Luefstedt, who considers himself more of a facilitator than leader of the Ukulele Club, which he started with five or six people per month six years ago. That figure has now grown to 20 to 30 per month at Union Music. Art Simas tiptoes through the tulips to tell this timeless tale.

Worcester Sun, Dec. 14: Hitch and Ed Augustus go caroling + much more

Does Worcester make the grade when it comes to charity? A bunch of numbers, plus our thoughts. Union Music is the story in a free-to-read double feature. And much more in the Wednesday, Dec. 14 Worcester Sun.

Local Business Spotlight: More than a century of sweet sounds at Union Music

You cannot deny it. There is something special about walking into a store and being greeted by absolute professionals in their business. So it is with Union Music. And it starts at the top, with the president and owner of this 116-year-old family enterprise.

Caring is the operative word in this world – caring about the instrument and your connection to it, the audience (even if it is one), and of helping others find their rhythm, which may be accompanied by a rash of blues, for those who make a living in music.

Carl Kamp, owner and president of this three-generation family business, recounted the history of Union Music, beginning with his grandfather.

Carl Kamp, owner and legacy at Union Music, a business in the city for more than 100 years.

Art Simas / For Worcester Sun

Carl Kamp, owner and legacy at Union Music, a business in the city for more than 100 years.

“Originally my grandfather, Samuel Cashner, who emigrated from Russia, started a pawnshop and music business on lower Front Street in 1900 (where the Peoples Bank is today, before the construction of the taller buildings).

“My father, Leon Kamp, started working for him and married my grandfather’s daughter … and a few years later, I came along in 1946.

Ukulele players string together a community at Union Music

About 10 years ago, Rich Leufstedt discovered a passion: the ukulele.

Originally a bass guitarist who, in his younger days and before family commitments, played with bands in this area, Leufstedt decided to put down the bass and pick up the ukulele.

“There are already all kinds of great guitarists out there,” he said. “So, instead of dedicating myself to be a better guitarist, I discovered no one played the ukulele. That was 10 years and 30 ukuleles ago.”

He may have been onto something in 2006.

Ukulele Club at Union Music

Courtesy Rich Leufstedt / Union Music

Ukulele Club at Union Music

“Ukuleles are much more popular today than 10 years ago. Back then one could go on eBay and find some bargains. And I found several vintage 1950s ukuleles … for one-third of the price of what they go for now,” he said.


Local Business Spotlight: Union Music, a century of sweet sounds


But the four-stringed instrument, known mostly for its Hawaiian-tinged sound, has entered yet another renaissance of interest and performance – and this time it may be here for a while.

Worcester Sun, Oct. 23-29: In this issue

Ray Mariano joins the Sun. Yeah, that one! Read his first column. While we’re at the politics, Sinacola is off to the races on Question 1; our editorial tackles Question 2; Hitch has his eyes on Fresolo; and we check the statewide pulse as Election Day nears. … Union Music is in the Local Business Spotlight. Giselle Rivera-Flores is on the move. And much more in your Oct. 23-29 Worcester Sun.