It's the end of an era for San Diego's folk scene on May 15 with the closing of the Double Eagle guitar shop in Normal Heights. With his lease up on June 4 and the opening of a Starbucks across the street that will likely precede higher rents, owner Ed Douglass, 77, will close the shop and work on instruments at his home.
Currently a member of the Americana group High, Wide and Handsome, Douglass cites health reasons (including upcoming double knee surgery) for giving up the Double Eagle. His lease's expiration provided good timing for an exit, and he sees the writing on the wall for small shops such as his.
"The Internet has changed everything, and I can't fight it anymore," he says. "People still come in to browse but then go home and buy what they saw cheaper online, where there is no overhead." Douglass plans to launch a website of his own.
Though the Double Eagle was in its Adams Avenue location for only six years, Douglass has been an integral part of the local music community since 1961; he was one of the driving forces behind the original Blue Guitar shop on Midway Drive. The store had an impact on the music world as the meeting place for noted songwriters and musicians, including Hoyt "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" Axton.
Douglass's footnote in music history has long been secure for being a member of the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, an early-'60s bluegrass combo that included founding Byrds member Chris Hillman and future members of the Eagles, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Hearts and Flowers. The band reunited in 2003 for three local performances.
Though the other Barkers went on to worldwide fame, Douglass doesn't mind that he was the only member who didn't sign with a major label. "My skills weren't as good as the other guys in the band," he deadpans. "But I was good at one thing. I could get us shows."