Rob BalintRob Balint has been a part of the Windsor music scene for over four decades from his days playing with Windsor’s The Hitmen to his present band, The 519 Band. With all that experience, Rob has seen the local music community evolve and he knows firsthand the struggles related to making it as a working musician and developing your craft. The last year and a half have been especially hard for most musicians and has resulted in a lot of time for soul searching and introspect on one’s career choices. It’s also been a time of increased creativity and ideas for many artists and not one to waste his time, Balint has been working on ideas of his own.

This is his story:
This is a COVID-19 derailed story. “I’m in the American Federation of Musicians local 566 and I’m one of the elected directors. Prior to COVID-19 we were trying to plan a fundraiser for The Mitch Lewis Music Educational Fund. Mitch was a beloved and well known Windsor musician who gave a lot to the Windsor music community.

 

This fund gives young musicians opportunities. Back in the day I was playing in bars when I was 16. I shouldn’t have been, but I was and that’s how it was back then, you had more places and opportunities to play.

These days it seems much more difficult to play anywhere and then add COVID-19 to that. We were going to have union bands like Leave those Kids Alone come and play this benefit to raise money for the fund. Then COVID-19 hit and all the plans were derailed. At that point I realized this could go on indefinitely and we weren’t working so I had this idea that I would put this studio together, partly for our band, The 519 Band but also as a way for me to give back to the music community and pay it forward.

Two years before COVID-19 I was looking for things to do and I got a call from Mike Lesperance at IEN (International Entertainmnet Network Inc.), who runs the Colosseum shows at Caesars Windsor and he said Ringo Starr is coming to town and we need a whole bunch of people. He said, “You can do backline, you want to come?” I said what the heck, I’ll give it a try, and I was there every show after that.

I have a lot of experience, insight, knowledge and I also have a lot of compassion and passion for music so what can I do? I can’t go generate money for the kids, but I can certainly bring them in here.

The idea is to bring a group of young people in here and let them see how a sound stage is set up. We’ll be set up like a music venue and there will be vintage amps around that if they want to plug in to one and try it out, they can.

If they’re writing songs, we’ll give them the opportunity to play that song and learn how tracking and pre and post-production works. Things as simple as how to properly wrap a cord, we’ll teach them these things. Even if it’s four hours a week for one group of individuals I’m going to donate my time for this. The only reason for my doing this is to give back to the community and let kids explore.

This studio will be completely inclusive. Hate has no home here. I want everyone who comes here to feel comfortable and safe regardless of race, colour, creed or sexual orientation. Music is universal and everyone who enjoys music is a friend of mine. Can you imagine if the next Stevie Ray Vaughan came through here? Everyone has something to offer, everyone has a talent.

We’ll also be renting the studio to budding producers who don’t have a studio to work in. I’ll have computers set up and everything wired so they can just plug in and go.

I’m never going to buy Pro Tools. I already found out that if I send my Tascam files to a Pro Tools guy, he can take them and scrub them and send them back to me and they’re great. The idea here is not spending three or four hundred thousand dollars down that rabbit hole, I can offer my clients an affordable option to work out their music.

We have half a dozen Turbo monitors, a hybrid Tascam board, 24 track digital recorder and 24 channel analog mixer which is cool and we have a 24 channel Soundcraft as well. I’m going to be offering a place for people to work out their music for a lot less than going into a high-end studio so that when they’re ready to go to that expensive studio, they’re prepped.

We plan on eventually doing video recording as well here and opening this space to the public. I have a soft opening planned around Christmas time and come January the plan is to have it open to the public. Paul Bonventre from Showtime Productions Inc. has been a big help. A lot of the equipment I bought for this project I got through him and he’s very supportive of what I’m doing.

The gear for the big festivals is all digital now so Paul has been selling us his analog gear that’s becoming obsolete for him but it’s still good equipment, especially for something like this. Chris Borshuk, the president of Windsor Federation of Musicians is also backing me on this project. 519 Band and I have a large network of followers on social media and we’re going to start with word of mouth and see where this goes.

“The Groove” studios will be opening officially in the new year and Rob can be reached at rb@groovystudio.ca Also check out The 519 Band on Facebook.

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