Monday, March 2, 2009

Music Row

Lost City recently delivered the very sad report that Manny's Music will be vanishing from 48th Street where it has been since 1935. Brooks spoke to Sam Ash, who said, "Music Row as you know it will be gone in just a few years."

The block is one of the last authentic pieces of an older New York and a haven from the tourist mash of Times Square. When I used to work around the corner, I would walk this block just to get a little peace, stepping into the shops to look at the instruments, horns and strings I couldn't play but liked anyway.

I wrote here about Jon Baltimore, an old-school craftsman who remembered growing up on the Row, when major musicians played on the corner just for kicks. I saw signs recently that Baltimore has since moved his 37-year-old shop to another location.

It's been a while since I visited the block. All these photos are from 2007, so I don't know if these places still exist--but there were other old shops to explore, like Rudy's Music Stop and all the little places piled one on top of the other, their windows glinting with saxophones and trumpets.

Manny's, of course, is the jewel in the Row. It's the kind of place you think will always be there. When I took these pictures, I thought: When all these other shops are replaced by more Times Square junk, with condos and Duane Reades, Manny's will remain.

With its un-ending, floor-to-ceiling, star-studded wall of fame you could look at for hours, until your neck is kinked...

...and its many artifacts, like "Old Yellow," kept behind glass and described by Modern Guitars as "a beat-up Danolectro that was used by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and other customers to test-drive amps."

Worn and battered, handled by many famous and hopeful, Old Yellow could be a symbol for this street. To the makers of money, it's not much to look at, but it is purposeful, colorful, and it could tell you stories.


Someone Said said...

When I was about 15 the guys in my high school band all made a pilgrimage to Manny's. We took the LIRR in. We were in awe. I'm stunned to hear it closing. This makes a bad morning even worse.

Anonymous said...

The only thing sacred in NYC are your memories....
At least I'll get to go down & say goodbye.
what a bummer!

Anonymous said...

NYC is really DEAD. It's over, it's gone, it's history. Hipsters, California transplants, yuppies, boring "sophisticated" people.
Who love Jamba Juice, Pinkberry, Red Mango, and chain store shopping DRONES. All the real NY'ers are moving to Florida or the West Coast. Many of them moved away 5 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't mean all that much since Manny's was purchased by Sam Ash many years ago.

I did buy my first guitar from Sam Ash on Queens Blvd back in the '80s. Honestly, Sam Ash and Mannys are both terrible. Rudy's is rude, but they got the goods.

dave said...

^ this is true. Manny's also stopped being anything other than a poorly-stocked version of guitar center (and that was admittedly sad) a few years ago.

great music stores do still exist in NYC-- 30th street guitars, drummersworld on 46th, and the newly-expanded Main Drag in williamsburg.