New music complex in Berwyn aims to connect musicians of all ages

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

Wires are used to transfer information, says Oak Park resident and musician Chris Neville. They connect guitars to amplifiers and microphones to speakers.

So Neville, a member of the band Tributosaurus, and four of his business partners who are also in the music industry, thought that WIRE would be the perfect unifying name for what will be a new music complex on the Berwyn side of Roosevelt Road.

The partners bought the building at 6815 Roosevelt Road late last month, and plan to turn it into a space where musicians of all ages and abilities can learn from each other. Neville said he began thinking about the WIRE concept about five years ago because he noticed there had been fewer opportunities for spontaneous collaboration in the music industry.

"The trend in music was for everybody to work alone in their basement," Neville said, which led to artistic isolation. There weren't a lot of spaces for musicians to congregate.

But when renovations are complete at WIRE, musicians will have about 10,000 square feet to work in. There will be a performance venue in the front, Neville said, where the style of music will be "pretty open-ended." There will also be a couple of recording studios, smaller composition suites and a school with classes that follow a "rock curriculum."

Neville and his business partners will teach weekly individual music lessons, as well as recording and composition. They'll have classes for bands, too, and will probably offer certification classes in lighting and sound production.

Memberships will be available to aspiring musicians who hope to turn their skills into a career. Members will get access to a VIP lounge in the venue and will work on a project every year, like producing a song for an anniversary with their significant other.

"Our model would be the lawyer guitar player," Neville said, referring to someone who spends money on gear and takes lessons, but would like better access to a professional environment, outside of their day job.

By putting musicians with different focuses and skill levels under one roof, Neville is hoping to see some interesting things happen. The community they create would "broaden the way the industry thinks about itself."

Neville said another goal is to help revitalize part of Roosevelt Road. The building was a movie theater from the 1920s to the 1970s before the Teamsters took it over.

"Handled correctly, that could be a real destination," he said, adding that organizers hope to partner with surrounding businesses and offer deals.

Tony Griffin, executive director of the Berwyn Development Corporation, noted the building has "really good design elements." He worked with the group to identify the site.

The partners are still working on developing the curriculum and looking for teachers within their Chicago music network, Neville said. They hope to start interior demolition this month with a goal to open in the fall.

Reader Comments

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Posted: September 23rd, 2013 7:56 AM

Hi, I just walked by the place Sat nite and noticed a nice bar in there? Is this going to be a bar also? There was a poster in the window saying could not find anything under that. Will this be a bar open to the public?? We need a fresh new place in the area, Fitz is getting old and Friendly in not too friendly ;-)

NOT NEW folks from Berwyn  

Posted: September 20th, 2012 1:41 PM

Why is there no mention here of the recording studio/venue/lessons music facility already in Berwyn? Horse-Drawn Productions has been open there for about 2 years now and offer all the same services PLUS computer and instrument repair. Just an FYI.

Brandon from Berwyn  

Posted: February 16th, 2012 4:48 PM

I am there, bass in hand, ready to bring a whole new funk to this hip town.

Matt Wolff from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 6:33 PM

What a cool idea! This 'day job' guy is definitely going to check it out!


Posted: February 15th, 2012 2:18 PM

Dont forget about Smeltekop instrument repair on Roosevelt as well.

Mark Bishop from Berwyn  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 1:51 PM

I love this idea. It is cool that your expanding the already vibrant music community on Roosevelt Rd.


Posted: February 15th, 2012 1:30 PM

I'm sold. I'd be a patron and a student in a heartbeat.

Music Fan  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 11:30 AM

@ Paul Z. @ Lori M. Please pay no attention to (Q)uack from Oak Park. He insults everybody. He fancies himself as the ultimate contrarian. I'm pretty sure he has small hands and small feet.

Lori M  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 11:10 AM

Q - what the hell did that have to do with anything? My husband is an employed musician who owns his own business AND a home in Oak Park. If you comment further, I shan't.

Paul Zimmermann from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 10:56 AM

@Q- Your comments are insulting and grossly misinformed. I'm sad for you.

Paul Zimmermann from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 10:54 AM

Just another sign that the resurgence of North Berwyn & south Oak Park and specifically Roosevelt Road is in full swing! Culver's, Autre Monde, Capri, Antronio's, Sushi Junki, soon to open Paparazzi and this exciting project. Looks like the street scape is doing what we hoped it would- helping to attract new and committed business owners. Now if we can get some movement on the OP side of Roosevelt, we'd be rolling!

Tracey from Berwyn  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 10:52 AM

Very cool - so glad to be getting another good performance venue in Berwyn; and love the idea of bringing more opportunities for music education here! We have missed the Old Towne School since moving out this way - very happy to have you open up so close by!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 10:33 AM

Lori M., Oak Park didn't miss the boat on this one. What do you call a musician without a girlfriend? Homeless! How do you make a musicians car go faster? Remove the pizza sign off the top of the car. The people you are going for are broke, but the recording studio if cheap enough because you are competing against home recording businesses because it's cheap to make one.

Music Fan  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 10:09 AM

Good luck gentlemen. Love the concept and would like to say thanks for choosing the Roosevelt Road location. It would be great to see this street become vibrant again after decades of neglect.

Lori M.  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 10:02 AM

This is awesome- those guys are great - both as musicians and as regular guys. Too bad Oak Park missed the boat on this.


Posted: February 15th, 2012 9:17 AM

Could frosty libations be in store as well?

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