Thursday, September 25, 2008

Music Madness since 1958

The Music Inn, located at 169 West 4th between 6th and 7th Avenues, is another Village institution, though to the casual passerby the place is an unknown oddity. Presenting a classic Village façade to the busy street outside, the Music Inn is chock full of musical instruments taken from the world over. Filled to the rafters with zithers, sitars, balalaikas, horns, keyboards, dilubas, bells, guitars, mandolins, gongs, hand drums, keyboards, various stringed and hundreds of rare, unique and unclassifiable instruments, the Music Inn has been in business since 1958. (the Music Inn was featured in an episode of the Naked City, starring Alan Arkin)

Owner Jeff is an old school, warm hearted kind of guy who has seen every era of Village change, from the ‘60s folk music boom to the ‘70s disco plunge to today’s gentrification rage. Back in the early '60s, Bob Dylan lived a few doors down at 161 West 4th, and was a regular patron, buying harmonicas and “100s of records,” Jeff recalls. Today, Jeff’s vinyl LPs (10,000 and counting) fill The Music Inn’s basement, though his stock is currently off limits while he tidies up the downstairs.

Jeff employs five workers, though he could obviously handle the place himself. He enjoys having them around; one employee has even created the Music Inn comic book series, featuring Jeff and his son. Jeff is working on the latest comic himself, concocting a story where George Carlin hangs with George Bush. Yea!

The Music Inn doesn’t have a website yet, but Jeff is working on it.


Anonymous said...

I love the Music Inn! I bought a great kalimba there and some excellent bells. It's definitely one of the most unique places in NYC.

Laurie Allee said...

I could LOSE. MY. MIND. in that store. Wow.

Fantastic shots today. THe first one is so iconic, it couldn't be from anywhere else in the world except NYC. Oh man, you're making me miss that city!

Wayne said...

Great post again Ken. It's fun to get a look inside these places.

Before I got to the Dylan reference I thought there must have been a bunch of well known musicians through this store over the years. Talk about history.

Tanya Breese said...

What a cool place and awesome post!

Jane Hards Photography said...

What strikes me when I stop by here is how laid back and friendly the people are you find. Here on a so called small iland, small commnuity it's anything but. Fascinating post, a real step back in time that I hope can still cut it in the future. these are the kind of places we need to keep, not your faceless corporate stores.

• Eliane • said...

First, and totally unrelated to this post, I really like your new layout. The white background is MUCH better looking that the blueish/greenish one you had before. I kind of miss the dudes at the diner that were in the banner before but this is fun too. Like it. Well done, my friend.

Second, you find the funkiest stores! I love it. The place is fun to discover with its antebelum cash register (makes me want to go over them with a bottle of windex to bring it back to life, but it would lose its charm, wouldn't it?) But most of all, the back story is what makes it interesting.

Third, a question: is it also a stringed instrument maker (un luthier)?

Anonymous said...

Cool-sounding place and cool-sounding fella. I like all the photos of the instruments. I hope he gets his web site up soon.

Paz said...

I can't wait to bring my son & nieces here. I wonder if any of the Beatles have been to the Music Inn over the years. Great photos Ken. I like your new layout too. Maybe you could fit the guys in somewhere as well. said...

OK, I'm losing it, the guys look great!

Virginia said...

Funky old stores, just like me...funky and old. Oh well,
I LOVE this record store. Would spend hours in here listenting to the tunes that make me smile. Great post today my friend.

rootsandrye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rootsandrye said...

Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Mandolin sounds great
Have a look at the picture of my Music Inn Dobro Mandolin in the Dublin Conservative club. Looking forward to Jeff having a website or even an email to keep in contact with him. My wife and I were very impressed with him and his amazing funky shop. Our daughter visited it recently and really enjoyed the chat with him.

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