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October 2016
Denise Mercedes and Richie Realms Interview

Bob Elliott: Music Makers of New York
‘The Secret Rock & Roll Lifestyles of Adults’




Bob Elliott is a musician, educator and inventor who owns, operates, and is President of Music Makers of New York -- a fascinating and busy character fully entrenched in the business of music. Starting off in the projects of Bayonne New Jersey, as a youngster he played Clarinet, did Marching Band, and then took up Soprano Horn. He graduated into a muscle car builder and street drag racer, turning then to building and riding gnarley Harley choppers. By this time, Bob played some guitar and sang in local bands. Feeling inspired to go more pro, he sold his Harley-Davidson 1200 cc Shovelhead for a 1961 SG Les Paul & a Fender Twin Reverb amp– which as he put it ”launched him onto the Highway to Hell” … but the desire was there to do something bigger than playing indefinitely in small Jersey bars. And in a nutshell: Bob Elliott gave up his early dream of being a ‘rock star’ to instead help other people learn to play music and help nurture their hidden talents. He is also the inventor of the excellent product ‘GuitarDocks’ which will be highlighted here later.


INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC MAKERS OF NEW YORK:


If it’s about music, chances are it happens here – at Bob Elliott’s ‘Music Makers of New York’ at 251 West 30th Street, long known as the Music & Arts building located a couple of blocks away from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. On a busy night any and every style of repertoire can be faintly heard echoing through the double-sound proofed doors of the many rehearsal studios on the entire 3rd floor of this pro rehearsal and top notch music education space. Rock of all genres, Metal, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Punk, Indie, R&B and just about everything else in between collides in the hallways and has been played here by countless musicians for two decades. It’s the place where shy total beginners might cross paths with in-town flashy rock stars needing to rehearse. It’s here where one encounters the clandestine life of the suits: doctors, lawyers, bankers and financial advisors, TV personalities, museum big-wigs and other professionals who ROCK hard on the side, enrolled in the Jam Sessions or the Band Experience workshops, wanting to keep their instrument chops up and perform, but not able to commit to the rigors of being in a full time band.


Some interesting historical notes on this building: Part of the large space Music Makers occupies is the former residence of Harry Belafonte a/k/a the “King of Calypso” – titled as such for popularizing the Caribbean sound during the 1950s – Mr. Belafonte is a singer/composer, social activist, actor and three-time Grammy winner plus recipient of numerous other awards and achievements. The Village People started off in the basement of this very building and recorded their first album right there as well -- shooting to instant fame and lasting glory. If that ain’t some cool and inspiring history of a place – then what is?


With a No Membership initiative, everything offered is ‘a la carte’ – pay as you go. Guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, vocals, and DJ’ing are to be had for instruction either privately or in a group. From beginners to intermediate/advanced levels, there are workshops for the Jam Sessions covering all eras of contemporary music; and, the popular Band Experience, where students are assigned instrumental duties to learn a specific set to perform live at the world-famous Bitter End in Greenwich Village. Bob Eliott has produced over 250 shows there for the Band Experience program. New into the mix is the open-to-all music networking social event “Sip, Learn & Play” – where a great time is guaranteed for all! The digital music, podcast and video streaming giant Spotify is so impressed with the enjoyable and educational aspects available here, it has enrolled ALL of its New York employees into learning programs at Music Makers of New York.


Mr. Elliott and Music Makers of New York have seen some of the biggest and brightest luminaries of the music world walk through its doors. This partial list of superstars who have worked on their projects there clearly shows the level of professionalism and confidence delivered by this facility: Peter Frampton; Edgar Winter; Mavis Staples (Staples Singers ) the R&B/gospel singer, actress and civil rights activist; Sinead O’Connor; guitarists from Guns & Roses; Earl Slick (David Bowie, John Lennon); Lynyrd Skynard drummer Michael Cartellone; Paul Schaffer-former music director/band leader for David Letterman; American Idol stars including the charismatic Constantine Maroulis; Jazz drumming/piano great Jack DeJonette – considered one of the most influential jazz drummers of the 20th Century; Eddie Kramer - Recording Producer of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones; Anthrax and others. Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen -- are amongst other artists of great prominence who have rehearsed and worked out of its studios.


I first became acquainted with this MMNY when getting back to playing and preparing for a Stimulators (my early Punk band) reunion show years ago; then rehearsed here at The Studio for the following 10 years with my popular all-girl Motley Crue tribute band Girls Girls Girls. Richie Realms also rehearsed in these studios when he was performing with his band Lunacy years ago. The friendly, knowledgeable and always available staff combined with accommodating and well appointed rehearsal rooms made me looks no further when needing to get a project together.


MusicRealms:
When did you start Music Makers of New York? How did it happen? We’d love to know how the idea for creating this kind of music community environment came about and, why you believe it has successfully survived two decades?


Bob Elliott:
Music Makers was started in 1997, now being in existence for 20 years in the same location. Music Makers came about and into contract at an Otis Rush concert at the night club “Chicago Blues” when my partner Bruce Wilcox, another recreational musician, signed the deal to start the business. It really started with me leading several recreational jam sessions. I realized that the need for a facility with an organized program specifically devoted to the beginner and recreational musician was nowhere to be found and desperately needed. The obvious joy from them in making music as a group, along with the sincere appreciation for my efforts, was all I needed from that point on to start Music Makers. The rest is history.


MusicRealms:
Anyone can rehearse here, but who are your music education programs and the social get-togethers for?


Bob Elliott:
The workshops and socials are for anyone who loves music and wants to learn to play an instrument or sing. Regardless of talent or level, everyone is welcomed at Music Makers NY. Just bring a good attitude and we will do the rest.


MusicRealms:
How does one start playing an instrument as a total beginner without feeling completely intimidated?


Bob Elliott:
Give us a call, e-mail and or drop by our Studios and we can try out a few different instruments and see which one you might be comfortable starting with. Then we can set up a program with you to get you started on your journey. Just that simple!


MusicRealms:
You mentioned the “Cowboy Chords” – that are the breakthrough’ light bulb’ moment for people who are beginning to play the guitar. Can you elaborate a bit on that concept?


Bob Elliot:
Learning simple chord forms that get you to the best part of making music, and playing great songs and having fun with other musicians is the starting point. One of the beginner students here – her face completely lit up when learning her first chord, and she realized in that moment what was possible and attainable.


MusicRealms:
Let’s talk about the workshops. The Jam Sessions cover all eras of contemporary music. Who are they for, and what will one get out of them? How ‘good’ on an instrument does one have to be to get in on this?


Bob Elliott:
Jams are for the slightly more advanced players and singers but by no means professional musicians. However everyone will jam. Yes I'm talking to you! Trust me it will happen!


MusicRealms:
The Band Experience you offer sounds like something many would like to participate in and get a lot out of, where students learn to work together in a group situation and to then perform a specific set of material live at the world-famous Bitter End in Greenwich Village.



Bob Elliott:
The Band Experience is the Real Thing not Karaoke. You sign up and we take care of everything after that, from song list to learn, rehearsals right up to the live show date. It's just that easy! All you have to do is practice and enjoy yourself.


MusicRealms:
Your newly added music-networking social events ‘Sip, Learn & Play’ sound great. Bourbon & Blues! Wine tasting while learning! Beer! Pizza! Artisanal finger foods! – and a FREE LESSON if you have never played a note in your entire life, or don’t want to jam on the spot with others afterwards. All this activity happens while one socializes with other music-minded people in the studios. Tell us more.


Bob Elliott:
Socializing, meeting new people and having fun with a goal! That's our special twist here at Music Makers NY. Where else can you learn about the different aspects of creating, with Wine, Bourbon, interesting food, hearing from experts on Exercise, Yoga and all sorts of fun and interesting Topics, then enjoy a jam session if you like -- or take a lesson or two in music from one of our professional teachers! All this in one exciting fun filled evening here at Music Makers NY. And the fun doesn't stop there just sign up for our weekly lesson programs and you’re on your way to a great new journey with music.


MusicRealms:
How do you find and choose your instructors?


Bob Elliott:
All our teachers are certified class A teachers with years of experience and fully committed to your enjoyment while you’re learning and participating in all our fun and judgment free events.


MusicRealms:
I believe you provide some additional assistance to your student clients, like helping them pick out the right instruments when they decide to buy one or upgrade. Can you explain these ‘perks’ to our readers?


Bob Elliott:
We will be with you all the way, right from the start. We will answer any and all of your questions, including but not limited to which guitar, bass, drum, piano, microphone, pedal, amp, recording device, etc., would be recommended for you. Remember: we will be with you all the way.


MusicRealms:
SPOTIFY is your newest client. Founded in 2008 by Swedish entrepreneurs and citing over 60 million users, they provide free-streaming digital music, podcast and video streaming service coming directly from the cloud -- with over 30 million tracks. You/Music Makers of New York are now teaching their New York employees how to play instruments and giving vocal lessons. We’ve never heard of that being a corporate concept before.


Bob Elliott:
We are very happy to be a part of the Spotify family. They have some truly amazing people working with them and they are an excellent company to work with. They are the newest in a long list of corporate clients that have subscribed to the ‘Health and Wellness through Music’ programs we facilitate here at Music Makers. I must say it's a remarkable program and really does work, we are very proud of the results achieved.


MusicRealms:
With all the diverse musicians who’ve been in and out of your establishment for 20 years, I’m sure you have some great stories. You mentioned when one of your unsuspecting clients walking thru the corridor heard Edgar Winter practicing “Frankenstein” for the New Year’s Party at BB Kings and said “that’s some hell of a cover band!”


Bob Elliott:
Every day is a special day here at Music Makers, So the special moments are too many and varied to talk about and you know what we like to say here at Music Makers "What happens at Music Makers stays at Music Makers" unless it's the next hit song then everybody knows it.


MusicRealms:
You are also the inventor of the very clever “Guitar Docks” -- the clip-on, space saving instrument holders which replace the need for a floor stand. You were generously giving some samples away to musicians at NAMM and everyone was dying to get one to try out. Please fill our readers in on some details of your invention, what inspired it, and where they can purchase one, or two!



Bob Elliott:
What can I say … GuitarDocks are the world’s smallest portable Guitar Stand and it was invented here by me at Music Makers. It's a very clever device that all bass and Guitar players will find useful. Check it out at D'Addario/accessories or order it online through Amazon -- you won't be disappointed.


MusicRealms:
To wind things up, let’s ask this question. You have personally witnessed thousands of musicians and their bands try to ‘make it’ and invest their time, money and hopes in wanting to achieve success. In your seasoned opinion, why do some individuals and bands fail and disappear while others succeed, even to the degree as weekend warriors vs. being in a pro touring situation? What is your practical advice for those wishing to establish a career in this field -- the Do’s and Don’ts of trying to become a good, if not a professional player?


Bob Elliott:
My advice to all players from beginners to those seeking stardom, enjoy the ride, practice often, and be true to the music you love. It's a long journey and you want to enjoy each and every moment playing music you can.
Remember this is a gift to yourself from yourself and it's the gift that keeps on giving, for it truly does get better the more you do it.





Keep on Rocking!
Bob Elliott, President Music Makers NY / GuitarDocks


For a full appreciation and understanding of what programs, training and music-related social events take place at Music Makers of New York please visit their website and facebook page for further details on how YOU can participate and benefit from their array of offerings






Writer Denise Mercedes: Founder/guitarist of The Stimulators. Artist Endorsed by Hagstrom Guitars of Sweden Tribute work: Former lead guitarist of Girls Girls Girls (2006-2016) and Bible Black NYC *An original project in the works.


Web Master: Richie Realms

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