Hinesville has a new musical instrument sales, repair and instructional store. Backline Productions Services LLC opened its doors in March but held its official grand opening May 16.
The store is located at 104 Gause St. and is owned and operated by former soldier and lifelong musician Willie “Keith” Milner.
Milner has 30-plus years of on-stage musical experience and an electronics degree from Altamaha Technical College in Jesup.
“My music background comes from Alabama, where my father and uncles had quartet groups back in the late ’70s early ’80s,” Milner said.
He grew up playing the drums for his dad’s group and played a lot of rhythm and blues, he said.
After high school, he joined the Army and played recreationally throughout his military career with a variety of other musicians. He played during his tour in Germany and, upon his return, he got stationed at Fort Stewart, making Hinesville his home since 2003.
Milner’s first passion was the drums, but during a deployment in Iraq, he sustained a shoulder injury.
“I got pins in my shoulder. … It hurt me to play the drums so my wife, Francesca, bought me a bass guitar,” he said, adding that it’s been his newfound passion ever since.
Locally, Milner helped form a group called the “Purified Sound.” He’s played the bass guitar for Jimmy Wayne Renfro and the House Shakers, has played the drums for musician Mike Shaver and plays with the Nothing but the Blues Band and the Flashback Band.
Milner was the bassist at First Calvary Baptist Church for 10 years and now plays at Emanuel Christian Center. He also is the manager and founder of the group known as True Direction.
Milner said his store offers a variety of musical services.
“We do it all the way down to the microphone,” he said, noting that the business repairs guitars, amplifiers, horns, woodwinds and keyboards, installs public-address systems, provides rentals and offers lessons.
“I teach entry-level drums, bass guitar and keyboards, and I have someone that comes in and teaches saxophone,” he said.
Milner has helped with community events and is the man responsible for the PA system setup for the Blues and Bar-B-Q and Small World Festival.
He said it was his lifelong dream to make his hobby his business. Offering music lessons is his way, he said, of giving back and inspiring the next generation of musicians.
Milner’s store is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. The business is closed Wednesday and Sunday. For more information call 876-DRUM (3786).