Back in 1980, I rehearsed in a really funky space on New York City’s 8th Avenue, only a few blocks away from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Aptly called the “Music Building”, this 12-story facility was home to many of the struggling and starving musicians of the day, which included Madonna, and frequented by the likes of Brian Eno, Melba Moore, Al Dimeola, Santana, Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group and many, many others. This was a seminal experience for me musically, and a great deal of the friendships I forged then have endured to this day. Enter Rudy Colombini and his modern day vision for San Francisco – “Music City”, a 5-story facility with rehearsal spaces, recording studio, restaurant, music school, and night club.
Colombini is an artist, musician, real estate entrepreneur, and, oh yes, lead singer of his very popular tribute band, “The Unauthorized Rolling Stones”. I met the gracious Mr. Columbini at his office in “Polk Gulch”, and after a few blocks walk, we entered his under-construction venue on Bush Street. The 5000 square foot building was originally a hotel built after the earthquake in 1906. Columbini explained that he envisions on the ground floor, a 100 seat club, and across the room, a “Johnny Rockets” style diner. With a kitchen behind the diner, and sound-proofing galore, Colombini will add a recording studio and rehearsal rooms.
“I’ll have more rehearsal spaces on each of the floors above us as well.” “Too many great bands in the Bay Area have been broken up by the economics of living here and monster egos. I want to create a space where musicians can learn about the biz, exchange ideas and experiences, jam, showcase their talents, and create the kind of atmosphere we really need in this town.”
“I want to have an affordable rental space for musicians here.
The elevator’s gonna go here, and we’ve gotta move this wall back. Can you excuse me a minute?”, Colombini asked as he and his foreman poured over more details. I took the opportunity to give the space a little scrutiny and yes, he has his work cut out for him. A great deal of work will need to be done for his October 13th opening date, however Colombini seems well on his way. New massive I-beams have been installed for structural integrity, and evidence of new carpentry and electrical work appeared everywhere. This place could really rock!
Partnering with the Northern California Songwriter’s Association and Independent music labels, as well as an extension of the Blue Bear Music School for on-site music classes, Music City could well be a real breath of fresh air for San Francisco’s music scene. “So many great musicians have come out of the Bay Area,” says Colombini, “Who knows? Maybe some new ones will come out of Music City!”
The “Music Building” is located on 8th Avenue, between 38th and 39th Streets in New York City, and is still in operation to this day.
E. “Doc” Smith is a musician and recording engineer who has worked with the likes of Brian Eno, Madonna, Warren Zevon, Mickey Hart, Jack DeJohnette, and John Mayall among others. He is also the inventor of the musical instrument, the Drummstick. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org