It Starts with a Square

Local Thunderbirds: Consignment Music Moves to Collierville

BY Regan Hewitt

Music meets brick and mortar at the corner of Center and Rowlett. A beloved Memphis music emporium, Consignment Music has resettled on the Collierville Town Square. When you walk through the front doors, you’ll discover wooden walls lined with vinyl records of famous 70’s and 80’s rock bands and gorgeous Gibson Les Pauls hanging alongside old photographs of rock stars. One of those old photographs is of Evan Leake, the now-owner of Consignment Music, who is eager to share his passion for music with Collierville.

Founded in 1990 by George “Joe” Nathan, Consignment Music is famous for the buying and selling of used music equipment. Over the last three decades, the business has supplied Memphis with a collection of guitars, drum sets, and other instruments – all at an affordable price. The “consignment” in Consignment Music is an important moniker however. The store has always emphasized the selling of used gear, and it continues that tradition in Collierville. The store has served buyers from all over by servicing and repairing equipment in need of fine-tuning.

“When you order a guitar online, you get what they send you. It’s not like you can actually pick it up and play it like these out here. It makes a difference. I order stuff online too, but not something as personal as a guitar. That’s something that you really need to have your hands on and make sure it’s going to be the right one for you,” said Leake.

Leake’s career in music began at a Collierville Middle School talent show. His brothers introduced him to the guitar, and while on stage, Leake quickly caught the attention of his teachers and classmates. Soon thereafter, he met Jimi Jamison, lead singer of the Memphis band, Target. Leake met Jamison before he began working at the Thunderbird Lounge in Memphis. It was there that Leake and the band’s eventual guitarist, Buddy Davis, played together as the house band.

“When you order a guitar online, you get what they send you. It’s not like you can actually pick it up and play it like these out here. It makes a difference. I order stuff online too, but not something as personal as a guitar. That’s something that you really need to have your hands on and make sure it’s going to be the right one for you.” – Evan Leake 

They began recording some tracks and soon called Jamison to write words to it all. It was then that Leake’s music career really began, as he and the other members of the group wrote and recorded songs that Target would later go on to perform. Shortly after recording, Leake began playing with another band, but not before kickstarting Target’s career by booking them for an important gig (unbeknownst to them at the time). The gig led to Target opening for headliners like Black Sabbath, Boston, and KISS in the 1970s.

“One of the groups was going to be playing down at Ellis Auditorium which is now The Cannon Center. They didn’t have an opening act, so she [Leake’s girlfriend at the time] asked me if the band [Target] wanted to do it. I said, ‘Let me call Jimi,’ ‘cause I knew they had the band together, and they took the gig. It was at Ellis Auditorium, and they opened up for KISS. Nobody had ever heard of KISS back then. From that, Target ended up getting a record deal on A&M Records,” said Leake.

At Consignment Music, Leake’s passion for music is on display and he is excited to bring that energy back home to Collierville with his family. Leake’s youngest son, Dylan, runs the floor and manages most of the buying and selling of the store’s products. “I’ve been working at Consignment Music for five years now,” shares Dylan, “but I’ve been coming to the old store since I was six years old probably.” Dylan attended Collierville High School for three years before graduating from Houston High School. Leake’s oldest son, Nolan, also works at the store. He is an electronic DJ and regularly performs at a list of venues in Memphis, including Growlers and Hi-Tone.

“One of the groups was going to be playing down at Ellis Auditorium which is now The Cannon Center. They didn’t have an opening act, so she [Leake’s girlfriend at the time] asked me if the band [Target] wanted to do it. I said, ‘Let me call Jimi,’ ‘cause I knew they had the band together, and they took the gig. It was at Ellis Auditorium, and they opened up for KISS. Nobody had ever heard of KISS back then. From that, Target ended up getting a record deal on A&M Records.” – Evan Leake 

Collierville and music have both struck a chord in Leake’s life, and he’s just the perfect person to open Consignment Music’s newest location, as his great, great, great-grandfather, Virginius Leake, was one of Collierville’s first doctors. Virginius was also one of the original purchasers and owners of the land that Collierville’s Town Square was built upon.

A large monument sits at the northeast corner of the Square that tells the story of the purchase of land that would become the cornerstone of Collierville. It reads: Two notable citizens joined company to rebuild what Sherman and his army had left in shambles. Doctor Virginius Leake and Constable Harrison H. Irby, neighboring plantation owners and soon to be in-laws, purchased from Amy Kimmel of Franklin County, 50 and ¼ acres, which would become the center of the town as we now know it… “The Square” has been the center of commerce and community pride since its conception, thanks to these two gentlemen, their descendents, and the town fathers who came after (Monument, Collierville Town Square).

That monument features an engraved illustration of a mutual handshake between two friends and business partners. As Collierville continues to change, some things will always stay the same. Today, that’s true for Evan Leake and his family, who have joined hands once again to bring a beloved Memphis music store to the Collierville Town Square.

story | Nicholas Cotros

photos | NLA Projects

May/June 2020 Tour Collierville Magazine