New Huntsville music board members tuned into new opportunity

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Leaders in the Rocket City are ready to turn up the volume. This week, Huntsville city leaders picked nine people to serve on their first-ever music advisory board. Two people chosen to serve on the board said they're excited about what this will mean for music in Huntsville.

"It's amazing the amount of talent we have in the area, songwriters, performers, the whole lot," The Fret Shop co-owner Mark Torstenson said.

After 40 years in business, The Fret Shop remains a place where people can learn the basics of a six-string. And this week, owner Mark Torstenson was one of nine people chosen, not to strum a chord, but rather to amplify the city's music scene.

"If I'm not mistaken, we might be the first of this exact model that's been created, so it's exciting to be a part of that," Torstenson said.

The board was picked to include men and women from different genres to share their knowledge following Huntsville's music audit.

"I hope it'll bring more acts to the city and help us create more venues. And enhance the ones we have here," Torstenson said.

Board members said their new role isn't just a question of who can bring the biggest concert to town, although they certainly will be focusing on live events. But they said much of their goal is also education, growing some of the undiscovered talent around Huntsville.

"Every major artist is homegrown somewhere. They're from somewhere," The Maitland Conservatory owner Mario Maitland said. "So, sometimes when we're from a city, we don't think of these people right next to us being big, international artists."

For nearly 10 years, Maitland, a classically trained musician, has taught kids at the conservatory. He said his new role brings a unique opportunity to put more young artists in the limelight.

"It's not just about the board. It's about what the city wants, what people want, and what they want to experience," Maitland said.

Maitland, Torstenson, and the rest of the board will come to the table for the first time when they meet next month. The other members include Judy Allison, Codie Gopher, Cricket Hoffman, Chuck Rutenberg, Celise Sanders, Brett Tannehill, and DeQn Sue.