For over 50 years, the Westport Music Center has been the place to go for lessons, instrument rentals and repairs, musical books and accessories.
Now it’s the place to go to be a rock star.
In the back of the sprawling space underneath the former Pier 1 store on the Post Road — past all those instruments and sheet music — aspiring musicians gather at the Gig Center.
It’s the brainchild of Steve Sasloe. Last year, the longtime owner built 2 state-of-the-art studios. In the afternoons they’re filled with kids. At night, adults come. Under the guidance of pros, they learn music history, recording and songwriting skills.
And they play.
But the Gig Center is not just a rehearsal space. These guys (and girls) end with a live show. All that’s missing are groupies.
“Growing up, we formed our own bands,” Sasloe says. “But you don’t see a lot of ‘Guitarist Needed’ signs anymore.”
Enter the Gig Center. Sasloe and his crew do the legwork. They form bands, bringing together guitar players, drummers, keyboardists, singers, even brass and woodwind sections.
They lead rehearsals, and arrange performances. (This year’s venue: Kieran’s Place, at the Smith-Richardson golf course.)
Music ranges from the ’60s to today. Sasloe says the tweens and teens who are attracted to the Gig Center — some of whom already take private lessons there — appreciate the roots of rock.
But their voices are not always the same as Mick Jagger, John Fogerty, Tom Petty, Patti Smith or Kurt Cobain. So Sasloe and his staff change keys, as necessary.
For kids, the Gig Center offers a chance to be in a real band — something not easy to do, in today’s STEM-and-sports-filled world.
Adults get an opportunity to get back to a passion that fell by the wayside, once “real life” intruded. Or, Sasloe says, to “cross ‘rock ‘n’ roll musician’ off their bucket list.”
The results are impressive. The 2 studios crackle with the sounds of music.
But it’s about as far from “The Sound of Music” as you can get.
(Hat tip: Suzanne Sherman Propp)