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Cool Idea: Musicians Turn Abandoned Buildings Into Recording Studios

Posted: 06/27/11 09:01 AM ET

One of my favorite young rock groups is Beirut, who have nothing to do with Lebanon and, in fact, are now based in Brooklyn. They've already developed a wide following, have played with Arcade Fire, and have a new CD out soon. One thing I love about them are their many videos, which you can find on YouTube, where they play on the streets of Paris and other cities, barge into cafes strumming and playing horns, or take over seemingly abandoned and gritty apartments.

So I was happy to hear an NPR feature this past weekend on Mason Jar Music, a new collective of young producers/musicians, also now in Brooklyn, who have their own twist on this, getting access to abandoned buildings in New York and recording and filming a variety of established artists there.

You can listen to it here, where NPR has also posted a full story by Robert Smith and photos, and interviews with co-founders Dan Knobler and Jon Seale. Plus a video of the well-known Wood Brothers in a classroom, with a string and horn section, no less. They did that the day after appearing at Carnegie Hall.

Smith aptly observes, "It's hard to say how it would have sounded different in a pristine studio, but there is a feeling here of sneaking into the space and goofing around. Or getting away with something...." Future sites may include subway platform, old bank lobbies, the Museum of Natural History.

Here's one of their other recent adventures, which finds Josh Garrels in an old church in the middle of the night.

 
 
 

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