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Bill's Music was chosen to represent the "World's Greatest" Music Store by Bloomberg Television
The camera crew from World's Greatest TV was recently filming at Bill's Music for an episode that will air later this year depicting Bill's as the "World's Greatest Music Store"
Stay tuned for air dates!

Bill's Music hosts WJZ-TV Channel 13 for the "Where's Marty?" segment! 

WJZ-TV Channel 13's iconic newscaster Marty Bass stopped in to Bill's Music to film his "Where's Marty?" segment for the CBS news morning show. Marty spent the week identifying local landmarks and coined Bill's Music as one of the most recognizable of them Catonsville, anyway :)
The famous Bill's "caricature' logo was created by a newspaper artist back in the late 60's when Bill was writing articles for the News American paper focusing on musical instruments during the height of rock n' roll. 
It has lasted as the highly recognizable logo for the family owned music store for over 50 years and there are no plans to replace it for the next 50!



Go-Go's Drummer Gina Schock Rocks Bill's Music

Gina Schock- Legendary Drummer for 80’s all- girl rock band, The Go-Go’s recently spent the week rehearsing at family owned music store- Bill’s Music in Catonsville, “Music City” Maryland. The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer was preparing for her party in Baltimore’s Hard Rock Cafe, “Gina Schock – Schockin’ in the New Year”.  The Dundalk, MD born drummer took a break from practicing to stop in Bill’s and meet the crew- signing drumheads and autographing her new book – Made In Hollywood: All Access with the Go-Go’s.  Bill’s Music has been an institution in Catonsville since 1965, responsible in part for the eclectic town celebrating the 20th anniversary of being proclaimed “Music City” Maryland. 

“They were so kind and gracious to let me use one of their studios to rehearse in…I love this store! It’s so nice to see these independent stores that are still around…I’m here to promote this store because these sort of mom and pop stores are important.” ~ Gina Schock


Bill’s Music House Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Music City, MD

Bill’s Music in Catonsville, “Music City” Maryland recently welcomed the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce and the community to an event celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Music City Maryland designation. In May of 2002, The Maryland General Assembly, from an initiative of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, declared Catonsville Music City Maryland. The designation acknowledged the rich heritage of music merchants, products, social media presence, live performances, and music education concentrated in the community, with Bill’s Music being a major contributor to the eclectic music scene. 

Since 2002, positive reaction to the designation expanded the number of live performances, encouraged the creation of small businesses, and became a catalyst for a state designation of a local Arts District. Each year the Music City Maryland Association presents a downtown summer music festival. As an effort to promote local commerce, the designation is an invitation to enjoy the music of the community as well as fine dining, unique shopping experiences, recreation opportunities in the charming atmosphere of small-town America. “We are proud to be a part of the merchant contribution to Music City Maryland. And to celebrate the 20th Anniversary, we are proposing a new initiative to promote Music City Maryland,” said Bill Higgins, founder of Bill’s Music House. “Along with community pride, we believe all merchants, even those not directly involved in music, can benefit from this unique local identity.” 

Mandy Remmell, Director of Community Engagement is shown below presenting Bill Higgins (Owner- Bill’s Music) with a Citation of Congratulations from Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s office at the celebration.


Bill's Music Hosts Santa Strum n' Sing

Bill's Music of Catonsville, “Music City” Maryland recently hosted a “Santa Strum n’ Sing” to welcome in the holiday season. Dozens of local musicians showed up with their guitars, ukuleles and joyful voices to join in with the festive favorites. Bill’s Music instructors, Chris Defeo (guitar) and Arielle Summitt (vocals) hosted the family music store’s salute to Santa with tunes like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. The mood of the evening was jolly to say the least, with kids shaking their sleigh bells and snacking on candy canes.   “It was so much fun getting together with the community to play music. We hope this Strum & Sing will be first of many at Bill’s Music!”
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School Band Kids Flock to the Instrument Petting Zoo Event at Bill's Music

Bill’s Music in Catonsville “Music City”, MD recently hosted a Back-to-School Instrument Petting Zoo for students interested in playing a musical instrument this year. Youngsters from all over the area came out with their families to pick up the different instruments, see, touch and learn more about them. There were flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, violins, cellos, bell kits and more. Store owner Nancy Higgins and her granddaughter Abbey who is in her 4th year playing the flute were on hand to answer questions and help the kids to make sounds on the string and percussion instruments.  The drums and the Cello were among the favorites of the crowd.  “It’s just so wonderful to see so many budding musicians getting excited about school band and orchestra. The benefits that they’ll enjoy from learning to play a musical instrument will last a lifetime”, said Higgins.  Nancy and her husband Bill gave piano and guitar lessons (respectively) in the early years of the business back in 1965. Bill’s Music has now grown into one of the largest musical instrument retailers on the East Coast, serving musicians all over the world.

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The Higgins Family Plays the 'Feud! 


  In April of 2021 the Higgins family of Bill’s Music in Catonsville “Music City”, MD finally got the call they had been hoping for. They were heading to Georgia to tape their favorite game show – “The Family Feud!” After auditioning once in 2016 and not hearing back from the show, the Higgins family never gave up on their dream and submitted a second audition tape in January of 2021.  They were immediately invited to have a live audition over Zoom with one of the show’s staff members. Matching outfits in tow- Nancy, Brian, Tracey, Leni and Jamie got together in an upstairs office at Bill’s Music to interview and play a ‘mock’ game of the Feud. They must have nailed it because just a few weeks later they were filling out contestant forms and making plans to head to Atlanta, GA for a taping. Along with tons of excitement came a vital question- “Who is going to watch the store while we’re gone?!” This would be the first time in the last 20 years that at least one Higgins wasn’t in the store.  With gratitude in their voices, the family explains that Bill’s Music team members both present and past, pulled together to make it happen.

The team of 5 participated in family practice sessions each week including one where the Catonsville community formed teams to compete against them at a local restaurant Iamps at Jennings Café to help the group prepare for their big chance to win $20,000. Leading up to their taping the anticipation grew, as did the number of Family Feud Episodes they watched each day for what they referred to as ‘training’. “The fun and laughs our family shared while planning for this experience was equally as memorable as being on the show itself!” said Jamie.

Finally, the day came where they would get to press that buzzer and hear the show’s hilarious host Steve Harvey say the two words they had waited to hear in person- “Survey Says!”.  While in Georgia, they were able to tape two episodes of the show, meet up with some extended family, and make new friends that would last a lifetime. Though the family is not able to disclose if they came home with any cash until the episode airs on November 4 2021 on WBFF 6:30pm EST, they say the memories made during this experience were priceless, something they wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world.

And they meant it.


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Bill's Music is Featured in Baltimore Magazine


Clockwise from left: Tracey Kern, Brian Higgins, Jamie Reese, and Nancy and Bill Higgins. —Photography by Matt Roth 

Gary “Groove” Massey places three Shure 58 microphones on the counter at Bill’s Music and reaches for his wallet. A bass player who’s worked with the likes of Chico DeBarge and R&B duo Ruff Endz, Massey wears a T-shirt repping his band (DemBmoreKatz) and says he’s been shopping at the Catonsville store for more than 40 years.

“I bought my first bass amp and cabinet here when I was 13,” he says, “and I’ve been coming back ever since. They have everything a musician could possibly need.”

“WE BELIEVE IN MUSIC” hangs in large red letters over the front door, and the shop backs up that motto with an impressive inventory. On any given day, you’ll find hundreds of acoustic guitars mounted on the walls, aisles of colorful electric guitars in display cases, stacks of amplifiers and speakers, full drum kits, dozens of keyboards and electric pianos, violins and cellos, an assortment of brass instruments, accordions, mics and mic stands, mixing boards and lighting rigs, DJ equipment, racks of sheet music, crates of vinyl records, and a dizzying selection of cords, pedals, straps, and strings. Poke around and you might also spot a sitar, dulcimer, and a barrel of didgeridoos and rainsticks.

“There’s a definite ‘wow’ factor when you come in here,” says Massey, “but the vibe isn’t intimidating. It’s a community-based store where you can have real conversations with friendly people, people who know you.”

As if on cue, an employee calls Massey by name and asks if he’s ready to check out. It’s Brian Higgins, the store’s general manager and the son of owner Bill Higgins. They exchange greetings and, after a clerk comes over to ring up the sale, Brian wanders off to help another customer. Massey says Brian epitomizes the spirit at Bill’s and recalls once heading to a gig and realizing he’d forgotten to pack a keyboard stand. Turning onto Frederick Road, he spotted Brian locking up for the night.

“He literally had the key in the lock when I pulled up and told him my situation,” says Massey, who recounts how Brian unlocked the door, told him to run inside and grab a stand, and refused any payment. “Tell me where else are you going to get that kind of service? That’s what friends do for friends, though it’s actually more like family.”

That familial vibe, figuratively and literally, has proven essential to Bill’s survival. In addition to Bill’s son, Brian, his two daughters, Jamie Reese and Tracey Kern, and son-in-law also work at the store. His wife, Nancy, has worked there, too.   “A family member is here almost all the time,” says Brian. “We recently went away together, and it was the first time in 20 years that at least one of us wasn’t in the store. We work hard. We put a lot into it.”   It’s why they’ve been able to overcome serious challenges over the years, including changes in musical tastes, the arrival of big-box stores, the rise of online shopping, and COVID. But in some ways, Bill’s now faces its biggest challenge yet: the retirement of its namesake founder.

Bill Higgins settles into a rocking chair in an office off the showroom floor at Bill’s. Now 78, he still bears a resemblance to the portrait that’s adorned the store’s signage for decades. The black-and-white drawing, dating back to the 1970s, was originally created for a music column he wrote for The News American. The mustache and hair may have turned white, but the welcoming smile endures.

Bill opened the shop in 1965. At the time, he rented a 400-square-foot space (currently the Peace of Sunshine head shop) at the corner of Frederick Road and Mellor Avenue. A Catonsville High School graduate, he worked briefly at the Social Security Administration but had a passion for rock music, especially The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. He picked up the guitar and developed enough talent to put together a couple bands and recruit students for lessons.

After going around to people’s houses for a year, he figured it would be more profitable to teach from a central location. He quit Social Security, took the Mellor Avenue space, and put a Bill’s Music sign in the window. He charged $2.50 a lesson and says the timing was perfect, “because everybody and his brother wanted to play ‘Satisfaction’ when the guitar rush hit.”

He bought guitars for students and, fortuitously, got into a conversation with a supplier delivering instruments to the store he frequented. Bill asked if he could buy product directly from the supplier and was told he just needed a resale license.  “I got that resale license and had my first supplier,” recalls Bill. “Gradually, I learned about other suppliers and started going after guitar lines like Fender and Gibson, and things just took off.”  He hired two instructors to handle lessons and devoted himself to sales. It turned out he had a knack for it. “I didn’t have any money, but I had plenty of energy,” he says. “I became the frontman, because I really liked selling.”

Bill smiles at Nancy, who pulls up a chair, and credits her for helping take things to the next level. She was dating Bill and working at the National Security Agency (NSA) when the shop opened. She got off at 4 p.m. and joined him at the store until closing time, usually 9 p.m. When Bill suggested she might work full-time, Nancy took a leave of absence at the NSA.  “I never went back,” says Nancy, who handled the bookkeeping. “We got so busy, and I really enjoyed working together.”


“As soon as we got a little something going,” adds Bill, “we went ahead and got married.” The couple celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary this year.  The shop moved from its basement digs to a storefront across Frederick Road until the mid 1970s, when Bill bought the building that now houses the shop. A major renovation in 1996 produced the current 36,000-square-foot iteration of Bill’s, a far cry from its humble beginnings. Bill says Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center, a D.C.-area institution since the late 1950s, inspired him to think big. “It was the state-of-the-art music store,” says Bill. “I’d go over there and think, ‘Man, I’d love to have this someday.’ Well, my store kept getting bigger and stronger, and, one day, I had my version of that.” It anchors a music-centric corridor, which also includes Appalachian Bluegrass, The Piano Man, and the Trax on Wax record store. It’s one of the primary reasons that stretch of Frederick Road was designated “Music City, Maryland” by the state.

Bill and Nancy laud their workers for such growth and stability. Some salesmen worked 10 or 20 years, and three early employees stayed at Bill’s for more than four decades. Two of them retired a few years ago, while Ron Cook continues to repair and tune up instruments just as he has since 1965. Their children have worked there for decades. “It’s time to give them a shot at running things,” says Bill, who says COVID concerns kept him away from the store for more than a year. “They’re ready for it.”  The next generation is firmly in place. Brian started working at Bill’s at 14 and now has his father’s job. Tracey has taken over her mother’s job, handling the accounting and paying the bills. She also oversees the music lessons. Jamie manages the website and online sales, as well as social media. Tracey’s husband, Leni Kern, works in online sales, too.  “At this point, we have customers bringing in their kids,” says Brian. “In fact, I see customers who bought their first guitar here bringing in grandchildren for their first guitar.”

Jamie sees more women coming in, especially young girls. “They’re 10, 11, 12 years old,” she says, “and they’re coming for electric guitars and drums. Before, they might be getting violins or flutes, but girls are branching out.” “We see it in our lessons program, too,” says Tracey. “There’s a new generation of girls coming for lessons and taking over a little bit with the rock instruments.” Guitars and amps are still the most popular sellers at Bill’s, but changing tastes have led to a more robust stock of electronic gear as more people make music on computers or give podcasting a try. Sales soared during the pandemic.

“Last year was the biggest selling year for guitars in the history of the music industry,” says Brian. “People also needed equipment for Zoom meetings, setting up home studios, broadcasting church services, or just for something to do. They bought everything we had.”  Pre-COVID, for instance, Brian may have ordered half a dozen audio interfaces for the store. During lockdown, he was ordering 100 at a time and struggling to keep up with demand. Due to limited staffing, family members worked overtime. “It was non-stop,” says Brian, “and we were exhausted every day. It actually turned out to be a good year for us. We were shocked.”  Going forward, they’ll need to focus on daunting challenges posed by Amazon and other online retailers. Bill’s outlasted the big-box stores that popped up in the 1990s with its winning mix of competitive pricing and customer service. Now, they’re working to simultaneously grow Bill’s online presence and make the brick- and-mortar store even more of a destination. They now rent gear and instruments, buy used instruments, and have rehearsal spaces available.


The Higgins kids, like their father, understand the value of self-promotion. With Nancy and Leni in tow, they recently flew to Atlanta and taped episodes of Family Feud with Steve Harvey. “It was so much fun doing that together,” says Brian. The segments will likely air in February.  Brian, Jamie, and Tracey—who all live about a mile from the store—enjoy getting together when they aren’t working. They regularly meet for dinners and try not to talk too much shop. They acknowledge the significance of Bill stepping aside, but feel they’ve been well prepared. He taught them to buy smart and to always be honest and fair with customers, says Jamie. “He gave us the tools to survive no matter what.”

“Our business is all about building and maintaining relationships,” says Tracey. “It’s like a family.”  It’s been that way at Bill’s since 1965.









Since our opening in 1965, Bill's Music has strived to reach nothing less than extra-ordinary. From our wide selection of instruments, to our numerous lesson programs, and even to our customer service, Bill's has become one of the premiere family owned music stores around. Over the years, our hard work has not gone unnoticed. Not only has our family made many valued customers and friends, but has also received recognition from the local community. Here are some awards and accolades that Bill’s Music has received over the years:


 In 2006, Bill's Music received an award from Music & Sound Retailer for "Best Single-Store Dealer of 2005 B&O Products!"



Bill's Music received another award in 2008 from Music & Sound Retailer. This time for "Best Single-Store Dealer of 2007 Guitars & Basses!" That same year, Bill's also was ranked one of the Top 200 Largest Music Product Retailers by Music Trades!



During our 45th Anniversary in 2010, Baltimore County Executive, James T. Smith, designated August 22nd as "Bill's Music House Day!"


The Maryland General Assembly Proclaimed our town of Catonsville, Maryland "MUSIC CITY" in recognition of Bill's Music having been in business since 1965, as well as other music retailers located along Frederick Road. In addition to retailers, Catonsville boasts a large community of live musicians & performance venues.