Monday, November 20, 2006

Hampshire Piano Company - End of an era

This news makes me really sad. My buddies from Noho, Richard and Craig own a piano company. They mostly refurbish old pianos and they've had their shop at the old Pro-Brush building for years and years. My old hometown newspaper is so cheap, I can' t even link to the story cause the link rots in 30 minutes and I can't copy the photos but you can see them here.

The pictures don't do the shop justice. The place was huge -- cavernous really -- and filled with pianos in every stage of reconstruction. It also had the most amazing basement. The building was over a hundred years old and you could lost in the catacombs down there. I almost did once during one of their legendary parties.

I went to so many really great parties there. Every musician in town was a friend of these guys and they would all jam, all night long. I saw so many once in a lifetime combinations of players. Jazz cats playing with blues guys, playing with thrashers, playing with singer songwriters. It was always A-list music but they would give any newcomer who dared to try, a chance to sit in.

The guest list was always eclectic. The early evening could bring staid neighbors and even parents of the musicians, but once the civilians left, the real freaks arrived and the serious partying started. It was always a pot luck thing -- emphasis on the pot -- and whatever else was happening in the basement - stayed in the basement. The kegs never ran out, the tables were loaded with booze and there was food. Ah the food. People cooked for these things. Huge vats of food appeared from nowhere and never ran out until the wee hours of the morning which is probably why no one, to my knowledge, was ever bagged for a DUI after leaving those parties.

Well it's all over now folks. My pals got kicked out of the complex, just another victim of capitalism. They were one of the first to occupy that building and were largely responsible for turning it into the artist's colony it became. And I mean colony in the sense it was as big as small town. The building was immense and intricate. Without signs you could get lost on any floor. Many of the first tenants were artists who attended one of those parties. It built from there over the years.

They sold the building to a crass and heartless speculator and Hampshire Piano had some of the prime space in the complex so they kicked them out. They found another space in the next town but it won't be the same. They even changed their name. Sometimes I hate change.

Meanwhile, these guys had to move 84 pianos and their phone system was screwed up for weeks. What a drag. I should send them some flowers. And if you're reading this in New England and need piano repair, or are looking for a really good used piano, give them a call. (413) 532-1123


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