Local business owners co-found Albany Rock Pit – Spotlight News

COLONIE –  When the School of Rock closed last spring, two local business owners stepped up to help the young musicians find out there isn’t just one way to rock.

“We wanted to give the kids a home,” Kim Lindh said. “These kids needed someplace, because this is an outlet for a lot of them. Music is all they think.”

Lindh partnered with McGeary’s owner Tess Collins to found the Albany Rock Pit at the rear of her other business, Action Trailer on Norman Drive in Colonie.

“Kim had the space. We had already scoped it all out because we were trying to help him (Sean Cranston, the owner of School of Rock) stay at his own school,” Collins said. “ And then when [he] said that he didn’t have any place to put his students, Kim had the space.”

The pair, along with their faculty and guests, celebrated the official opening of the school with a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, Oct. 24.

They knew there was a need for a music school since the closing of the Latham lesson facility, School of Rock, and they wanted to help the community, especially its youngest musicians.

“She’s like, ‘You still got that space?’ I’m like, yep,” Lindh said.

Lindh also had other motivation to open Albany Rock Pit – her daughter, musician, singer and artist, Harley Lindh.

When School of Rock originally closed its doors, Harley became depressed and began going downhill emotionally, Lindh recalled. Harley and the other children that she was friends with at the school wanted to continue to play music.

From a young age, Harley was interested in music performance and wanted to get into music. Kim first brought Harley to Guitar Center for music lessons and eventually to School of Rock through a recommendation from friend and musician Jesse Calhoun.

At School of Rock, Harley learned the guitar and trained to become a musician. Now at Albany Rock Pit with the help of an instructor, Harley also plays drums, bass and harmonica.

Demo and revitalization

It took Collins and Lindh 30 days during the month of July to give the 9 Norman Drive location a makeover with new flooring, ceiling, paint, decorations placed on the walls, a kitchen, as well as chalk drawn walls in several rooms. Collins went on Facebook Marketplace shopping for chairs to bring into the facility. In addition to the chairs, Collins also brought over several special pieces from Lark Tavern and McGeary’s including hand-painted chess tables, a mosaic circular table featuring the names of Collins’ friends, the late Caroline MotherJudge and Greg Haymes, and a mosaic rock-’n’-roll ’60s themed mirror hanging inside the main office.

Albany Rock Pit officially opened to students Aug. 1. Collins and Lindh wanted to make certain that their No. 1 priority was to give the children their music lessons first. Collins didn’t want the school to grow too quickly as she, Lindh, and the faculty are still working out the kinks, she said.

What does the Music School Include?

Parents with children 5-18 years old can register for music lessons at Albany Rock Pit. The music school includes a package where children can either do individualized lessons or both lessons and performance involvement. Students can register to take beginner lessons and take part in a musical jam session during the First Friday of the month at the school.

Open enrollment has now opened for adults to register to take part in an adult band every Tuesday evening, 8-10 p.m. with all skill levels welcome. Several adults are also taking part in an adult music program in a mini jam session with Cranston.

Currently, the children are rehearsing songs for their upcoming recital in December. One group of students is learning songs from the British Invasion and the rock era.

Cranston said that for him, music was always his artistic expression growing up.

“This is cool,” Cranston said. “We’re new and we’re here to make noise!”

Cranston, along with several other instructors including Cody Bogausch, Jay Goldman, Sara Alonge, Scott Owens, Wes Miller, and Maddy Caiazzo, engage with the students in their lessons and are there to provide them with the support and confidence they need to become rock stars.

“First and foremost rule is just to start them in a place where music is fun. We don’t have to be technical, and they don’t have to be shredders right off the bat,” Cranston said. “It’s about making it fun, identifying with where they’re starting from, and going on.”

Some of the children who arrive at the music school have no knowledge about music, band names, or their instructor, Cranston said.

“Sometimes they come in, they don’t know anything about you, different bands, or anything really, and then we’ll start to introduce them. They’ll hang out with us and kids their age, and then in a few weeks or a month or so, you see them wearing their favorite band T-shirts or hats and they’re suddenly trying to break things. … They’re shining,” Cranston said.

“These instructors are amazing at making the kids feel good about themselves,” Collins said. “Some of the kids (who) have special needs, they come in here and they see them (the instructors) and they’re instantly in a good mood and their parents talk to me about it and they say this is the best part of the week for their kids. These kids come in and feel confident.”

Watching the children discover who they are as musicians has been the favorite thing for both Collins and Lindh, and the teachers at Albany Rock Pit.

The Local Music Heroes of Today

Growing up in Troy and residing in Albany, music has always been in Collins’ veins. From her days playing horn in a drum core to hosting comedy, art exhibits, music, and burlesque seven days a week at Lark Tavern and at Justin’s, Collins always had her roots deep in local culture, and established lasting friendships with the movers and shakers who made the Capital Region a place to be in the music scene; in particular, Caroline MotherJudge and Greg Haymes.

Along a hallway wall lies a giant photograph canvas curtain of MotherJudge playing her instrument. Another wall will include an art piece created by Haymes himself to be hung to honor his memory, as well as canvas murals of Clifton Park bassist Joe Pallone and Jimmy Webb.

Pallone’s wife donated several of his bass guitars and music gear to be used in the bass guitar teaching studio at the school.

“Now you see a music school that is based around all the people that mentored you and me, and half of Albany,” Collins said. “When people come in, they see local people, they don’t see a lot of famous people.”

Parents who bring their children to the school even become emotional when they see MotherJudge’s photograph and everything inside the school as a whole, she added. Seeing the memorabilia for them brings the memories back to when they were children themselves.

Losing Haymes and MotherJudge was difficult for Collins. Both musicians empowered their peers and were supportive of everyone in the community. Although gone, they are never forgotten, and their legacy will hang on the walls of Albany Rock Pit.

To the Future

Both Collins and Lindh don’t want Albany Rock Pit to compete with other music schools.

“I don’t want to compete with other music schools either. I’m sending them business,” Collins concluded. “We want kids that want to play together.”

From their days of meeting Lindh on Lark Street to teaming up to form the school, one thing is for certain: Collins and Lindh know what it takes to enrich the younger generations’ lives and adults through the power and love of music, even through studying their local music history. If the students can become famous one day like Haymes’ band Blotto or become a NYC punk icon like Jimmy Webb, so could they.

“These kids need to know that they can become famous,” said Collins.

Albany Rock Pit is located at 9 Norman Drive, Albany, NY 12205. More information can be found about Albany Rock Pit on both Facebook and Instagram, on their website, www.albanyrockpit.com, or by calling (518)-608-5883.

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