Outside the door of Mike’s Music Studio in Berryville hangs a sign featuring the image of an iconic Gibson Flying V guitar that practically shouts, â€˜rock & roll’. Inside, rock & roll takes center stage where owner Mike Confrey teaches guitar from beginner to advanced levels in styles ranging from the pioneering riffs of Chuck Berry through the psychedelic flights of Jimi Hendrix and beyond. He’s comfortable introducing a young student to the chords of Yellow Submarine or demonstrating a Johnny Winter blues lick to a seasoned player. Let’s not forget the twang of country or the serene intricacy of folk-style finger picking. Confrey teaches it all.
Confrey began working on his space at 35 E. Main Street last winter. A ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Kirby made his opening official on August 28th. The Open House is this Saturday, September 11th. The community is invited to view the facility and hear live music on a stage set up in the ample backyard of the dwelling.
The music for the Open House begins at noon with Those Three Guys performing acoustic selections. Berryville’s own Golden Butter Band takes over with energetic rock from 1pm to 3pm. A â€˜Berryville Jam Session’ hosted by Confrey along with special guest musicians from the area follows from 4pm to 8pm. The event coincides with the Berryville Yard Sale happening that Saturday.
Confrey established a music school years ago in Maryland but when he wanted to relocate, he heeded the call of Clarke County to be near family. “The thing I fell in love with about Berryville was that gazebo back there in the park,” said Confrey. When he got serious about bringing his business to Berryville, the first property he considered was a large old residence on Main Street. “It’s right by the park. So I just love this place.”
In the process of exploring Berryville, he met two Berryville entrepreneurs; Brian McClemens of The Berryville Grille and The House of Light and Abel, owner of Camino Real. McClemens helped Confrey negotiate the details of opening a business in Berryville.
At 49, Confrey has been playing guitar since he was ten years old. Naturally, he’s been in numerous bands. He was an instructor for The Guitar Center in Rockville before going independent. “I was there for six years altogether but four years with my own thing. I eventually built it up where I had teachers working for me.” In the summer he would do guitar camps. “I’d have different themes each year. Last year was called â€˜Guitar Boot Camp’, trying to get people to learn the basic stuff and just have fun.”
He hopes the camp idea will catch on here, “What I’d like to do is have a band camp where you get involved with other local musicians, maybe like Donnie Grayâ€¦get together some of his drum students and my guitar students, find a bass player and put together bands .”
Confrey is the only instructor now but he hopes to expand. Lessons are thirty minutes long but as he builds his business, he’s allowed students to arrive early to warm-up or stay later to practice with instructional DVDs. He will soon have a digital movie camera. In his effort to support local bands, live performances could be recorded and shown on internet video sites to build a band’s fan base. The themed dÃ©cor of his music rooms would make a great backdrop.
The Music Rooms
If rooms could be rock stars, the rooms at Mike’s Music Studio are candidates for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. His studio features four rooms decorated to inspire a specific vibe associated with music. “I have one room I call the Pre-Rock Room where it’s decorated with stuff from the 1920s up to the 1950s pre-rock and roll era.” That room sports an upright piano and antique instruments. Framed record albums from a bygone era decorate the walls.
The next room ushers in the birth of rock & roll in the 1950s when Elvis was king. “It looks like a 50s diner with a bandstand; a stage with drums and equipment,” said Confrey. It’s a very convincing setting for a sock hop video but this is only the beginning. “Upstairs I got a room that looks like 1964â€¦kind of like The Beatles on Ed Sullivan,” continued Confrey. “Big round drum riser and Vox amplifiers.” Beatles memorabilia completes the British Invasion look.
Finally, there’s the Psychedelic Room. Jimi Hendrix rules here along with Clapton and other guitar legends. Colorful posters of the era grab attentionâ€¦mood lighting? Check out the collection of lava lamps. Stratocaster guitars stand ready for use by the young rock-star-to-be. Confrey summarized the experience he wants to create, “When you see pictures it’s nice but you have to see it in person to appreciate it. It’s meant to be fun and have a nice vibe for people to work in.”
Lessons at Mike’s Music Studio are by appointment. He offers group and private lessons and can tailor them to weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or a time frame to meet the student’s needs. You can contact him at 540-535-0351.
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