"When it comes to loyalty of the underground country music scene, few come correct like Mark Carrillo does. Coming up in the southern California car scene, Mark toiled away under the hoods of countless rat rods, street crusiers, and maybe even a Japanese model a time or two (money was tight).
After working in various custom shops and for someone else, the punk kid all grown up decided to take the plunge and do his own thing: Grump’s Garage – the candy store for any rockabilly, gearhead, Gas monkey and underground country die hard.
Featuring a wide array of new parts for your classic car project, and a bunch of used ones as Carrillo puts it: Even if the kids want to do that rat rod thing, we’ve got a whole section of used stuff. Anything to get young kids interested in old American cars.
Grump’s Garage is essentially a gigantic Hobby Lobby for anyone with a neck tattoo and a few Social Distortion shirts in their dresser, and how cool is that? From a helpful, like minded staff, and an owner who gets it, that’s how a business becomes a major success.
But what makes Grump’s Garage standout is Carrillo’s undying love and championing of all types of underground music. His selection started off with three cd’s, and now music is 40% of the store’s shelf space.
Aside from various odds & ends and some random antiques, Carrillo’s ultimate goal is a show space in the back of the store: a location somewhat akin to Daytrotter or NPR’s small studio sessions – a backyard celebration set up for 40-60 listeners to sit down and see some of their favorite musicians come and do a stripped down, intimate set. The set will look like an old gas station, and set in that storied California weather. Add in some grills going, and a few cold beers, and you’re pretty much just south of what many of us would call heaven.
For a guy who says he can’t “tune a radio” it’s pretty remarkable how much love and effort he’s given to music.
When asked about the overall vibe of Grump’s, Carrillo gives the best answer:
Well, I wanted to give them music that anyone who works on old cars in their garages would want to hear. From rock n roll, to rockabilly, to roots music, whatever. It’s about the vibe.
That’s a poignant way to describe what some would call an adult hobby shop while others see it as Mecca to all things cool. Grump’s Garage hosts a variety of shows and opens their doors to many musical troubadours coming down the California coast. But, Carrillo isn’t done, and the show space isn’t the only thing he’s got up his sleeve.
Eventually, I’d love to buy the building next door. My best friend does 50’s style hair cuts, and I’d love to get a tattooer in there. Have two separate shops. One for music and junk and the other strictly cars.
Whatever it is that Mark Carrillo and Grump’s Garage are tapped into, it’s seemingly perfect. There’s nothing that anyone who loves cars, and music that couldn’t find themselves in a perfect place in sunny, southern California kind of way.