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Kenn Fox and His Multifaceted Music Empire, Big Picture Vision!

This 1st edition of Main Attraction is with Kenn Fox. We had an amazing hangout session on, Monday morning, on this very hot and humid June. He was reminiscing about his first shop in Watertown on Main Street in 1984. Paramount has been at their current location 402 E. Main St. for 17 years and just celebrated 40 years of being in business this past April. 40 years of being in business is not slowing him down. If anything, he has renewed energy and new projects are coming up. This historic downtown Main Street cream brick building from the 1880's was originally a shoe store. Now, when you walk in, you can feel the musical presence, history, and wisdom of Kenn Fox, who wears many hats at Paramount Record Shop, Paramount Guitars, ANAM Sound Studio, and a new record label named after his beloved pet cat Maggie, Little Maggie Records that focuses on roots music for the modern age. On top of that, his first record label, Spiritone Records, is one of the biggest in Wisconsin and has been around for over 25 years!

I was in awe walking and taking everything he has to offer. Paramount Record Shop probably has the most extensive vinyl collection in Wisconsin. Not only does he get his new vinyl and C.D. 's from wholesalers, but also buys private collections of vintage and rare vinyl. He is open to the public on Thursday, Friday & Saturday. When you walk into the record shop of his multifaceted business, which is only a tiny vision of the BIG picture of Kenn Fox, you will see the walls hanging with custom guitars, which brings me to the next part of this modern business plan.

Kenn has a guitar repair shop. He is a Luthier/player/recording artist who represents many international guitar builders. Kenn connects musicians with endorsement deals with these international guitar luthiers. halfway through the interview, I noticed a guitar that had me speechless. It is a custom Joshua House made of local walnut and cedar. This wood was hand picked milled from Wisconsin and then sent to a Luthier in Canada to complete. Kenn focuses on high-end hand built, acoustic guitars; when guitars arrive, Paramount records, photographs, videos, and lists each guitar on their website. Every acoustic guitar has a signature voice.

When he does not focus on the retail side of the businesses, Kenn is up in his private studio, ANAM Sound Studio. The name came naturally in his thoughts: "soul in Gaelic & blessing in Arabic." This is so fitting for his Celtic background, and he also plays and records with a local Celtic group Kellswater Bridge that he records at the studio. ANAM Sound Studio specializes in singer-songwriter musicians. He hopes that ANAM Sound Studio can be valuable to his clients creative process. Kenn is always available for production assistance, advice, or tutoring in the recording studio. I had the privilege of sitting in the studio; it was so comfortable and surrounded by state-of-the-art equipment. His latest projects include Watertown local Matt Logan; Matt has an Americana feel. Kenn said he is currently one of the best young songwriters around. We also talked about Grace Butscher, another amazingly talented singer songwriter. I could not get him to name-drop the nationally famous talent that has graced his space and or bought a custom guitar from him, but I was able to catch some photos of past clients.

I asked Kenn if you could put your business anywhere in the state; why Watertown Main Street? He said the answer is simple: the community of businesses and centrally located between Chicago, Milwaukee & Madison. The entrepreneur list is extensive. His daily routine is getting a coffee at Literatus and Co. and popping in to buy something at Far Horizons. After he punches out for the night, you can catch him enjoying a beer at the Drafty Cellar, which has one of the most extensive beer lists in Jefferson County. I also asked him what he would like to see for the future of our evolving downtown. He said he wanted to see downtown businesses come together and collaborate on projects and keep our Main Street forward-thinking while keeping that hometown coziness. I, of course, thanked him for hanging out with me so I could get to know him, and he is excited to see what the Watertown Main Streets program's future holds! In closing, Kenn wants people to think of Paramount and all of his ventures homegrown! Jody Purtell 

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