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About Us

Cape Breton has long been famous for breathtaking scenery, friendly people and mouth-watering seafood. Another claim to fame is our rich culture and tradition of Celtic Scottish strathspeys, toe-tapping Acadian Jigs, Gaelic and French Music. In the past few years more Nova Scotian musicians than ever have found themselves performing to worldwide audiences, but remain close to their roots, musically and personally. Towns and villages throughout Cape Breton ring with the sounds of their music all year long, as well as party goers launching into a spontaneous tune or two around the kitchen table (Ceilidh). As you very well know, this music is not always readily available in record stores, so this website will make it possible to obtain all the Maritime and Celtic titles that you're looking for.

Charlie's DownHome Music is situated on the World famous Cabot Trail in the Acadian fishing village of Cheticamp beneath the Cape Breton Highlands on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Established in 1975 and being a 5 time recipient of the 'Country Music Retailer of the Year' Award, has put us in contact with all major distributors, as well as with every independent distributor and musician. We are very proud of our store and the service we offer: One of the largest selections of recorded music and music books from Atlantic Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland).

Who is Charlie?

Charlie has made it into Britannica.com, the official website of Encyclopedia Britannica:
"One of the most popular music stores on the island is in Cheticamp, Charlie's DownHome Music, which has been owned and operated by Charlie Larade for over thirty years
So, you may ask...Who is Charlie?
Found this from a bicyclist chronicling his jaunt around the Cabot Trail after paying a visit to Charlie's:
"The one upbeat note in Chéticamp emanated from Charlie's DownHome Music, a shop at which we stopped upon entering town. "There's no such thing as Acadian music," the 70-year-old proprietor, Charlie Larade, told me as I browsed through his 800-odd album titles. "It isn't like Cajun, which you recognize as soon as you hear it. Acadian music is just French people playing folk, country, bluegrass or rock, depending on where they live." David Darlington

Here is an article based on an interview with Charlie by Ian MacNeil way back in 1991 (somewhat edited), but it still gives us a little insight into the man behind the name.
According to Cheticamp's Charlie Larade, the key to success in selling recorded music is to "stay at it long enough for the people to get to know you. The music speaks for itself - it's everybody's second language. The customers associate me with local music and we become friends. They come back to see me year after year."
Charlie owns and operates Charlie's DownHome Music Store, a comfortably crowded building at the south end of Cheticamp where Redman Road meets the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island.
After 22 years in the business, Charlie knows his product and customers well, and at age 72 he is exactly where he wants to be, but that wasn't always the case.
Larade sold plumbing and electrical supplies in Toronto when another Cheticamp native, Joe Leblanc, introduced him to Ozzie Branscombe. The three men shared a love of country music and felt that retailers were more interested in selling them rock and roll records than country tunes. "It wasn't well represented in the stores," says Charlie. "People couldn't talk about country music with any knowledge." They pooled their capital and opened the first Country Music Store in downtown Toronto to serve their fellow fans.
"My intention was always to come back to Cheticamp," says Charlie, who along with Ozzie, bought out Joe within the first few months of operation back in 1975. The pair ran the Toronto store until 1988 when Charlie came back to Cape Breton.
Anticipating the move, Larade had opened the second Country Music Store in Cheticamp in 1983. His sister, Marie Roach, operated it until his return. Charlie and Ozzie dissolved their partnership, kept a store each and have remained friends.
Charlie serves two main groups of customers: tourists looking for a taste of music by Cape Bretoners and other 'Down East' performers, and local people who share Charlie's passion for country music.
One third of the CD titles stocked in Charlie's DownHome Music Store are by homegrown artists like the Rankin Family and Buddy MacMaster, and they're big sellers with the tourists. He often finds himself in the demanding position of having to introduce people from Germany and Hawaii to Cape Breton music. I could sell them just about anythiing I want," admits Charlie. "Some (tourists) come in here totally ignorant of our traditional music. I have about 500 open CDs on hand so I play them a few selections and let them decide which they like best. Sometimes they hear a selection on the radio or in a local dining room but mostly they hear it here first."
Charlie often thinks it's more important to him to sell Cape Breton music than it is to the artists who produce it. "They're up against a very large music scene out there," he points out. "Sometimes I wonder why I have to pay the same price for a CD that costs millions to produce in Nashville as I do for one produced on the island by Joe Blow. If I could get the local music for a little less, then I could sell five times more local stock. Then I could be a real ambassador for Cape Breton music."
Not one to sit and wait, Larade is trying a new approach to selling CDs. "The trend has been to more mail orders in the last three years," he notes. "About a quarter of my business is through the mail but I think it should be about half. The physical store can't grow much more so mail orders are the way to go." Charlie has no regrets about bringing his business back home though. "I love local music. I love to meet people and I love to talk. This business isn't the financial success it should be...yet. I suppose I could have made more money doing something else but I enjoy watching this business grow." As long as Charlie maintains his excellent rapport with the customers that growth should continue. The evidence is tacked to a wall in the form of tributes from satisfied customers. There are letters from people all over the world but one postcard stands out. It reads, "We nominate Charlie for Minister of Tourism!"

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