Woodstockers can get their first glimpse of The Woodstock Music Laboratory that’s being created out of the former Zena Elementary School by Paul Green (of the local Paul Green Rock Academy) and Michael Lang, when the Rock Academy debuts the new space with its Best of Season Show at 7 p.m. Friday, February 5.
The performance will include hits from shows throughout the Academy’s latest season, such as Folk Heroes (Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell), Jesus Christ Superstar, Led Zeppelin, and the Ramones. There will also be carnival games and food provided by Saugerties’s Miss Lucy’s Kitchen.
The space is still raw, but Green and Lang, the co-creator of the Woodstock Festivals, along with Bill Reichblum, the former dean of Bennington College, and hospitality man David Jarrett, are working toward the vision of the space as the Woodstock Music Laboratory, a post-secondary school for rock music
The Woodstock Music Lab, as envisioned, will offer a two-year, multifaceted, and comprehensive curriculum that diverts from mainstream, performance-based programs. “We have no majors. Every kid who walks in that door is learning to write, perform, produce, engineer, arrange, and market music,” said Green.
Lang stated, “This is not just for kids who want to be rock stars. This is for people who love music and want to be involved in the industry for their livelihood.” Though the Music Lab will focus mainly on rock, it will include subgenres such as punk, funk, soul, and hip-hop. In addition to exploring the numerous music-related fields, every student will also study several instruments. Green emphasized the importance of playing many instruments, adding, “Great musicians often surprise you by the well-roundedness of their musical abilities.”
To start out, Green and Lang will introduce a “pioneer year.” The Woodstock Music Lab will provide two-year scholarships to 40 promising young musicians around the country. The following year, the school will begin to take applicants, beginning the transition to a more typical application and audition process. Graduates of the Woodstock Music Lab will receive certificates in the arts, but more importantly, Green says, “[they’ll] have a résumé, a portfolio, and a set of great contacts, because [they] will have worked with the people who make the music [they] love.”
In July 2015, Green and Lang purchased the building and grounds of what used to be Zena Elementary School. “I’ve been working on this business for four or five years. I happen to think the universe has a plan — we were waiting for this building to become available,” said Green of their new space. The old elementary school is well-suited to Green and Lang’s vision. With corridors lined with classrooms, as well as cinderblock walls — an ideal soundproofing medium — the possibilities for collaboration and communication between rooms are endless. Additionally, the large cafeteria/auditorium holds a stage, providing a performance venue for the future students of the Music Lab, as well as guest artists. Green and Lang also have plans to convert the sizeable gymnasium into a massive recording studio akin to legendary Abbey Road. “We believe we’ll be able to attract a lot of big-name bands because there simply isn’t a big recording studio on the East coast,” said Green. Plans to house one of the largest collections of vinyl to date in the music library are also in the works.
Although the school isn’t set to open until the fall of this year, the Paul Green Rock Academy will debut the new space with its Best of Season Show.
The Paul Green Rock Academy’s Best of Season Show will take place at the Woodstock Music Lab, 1700 Sawkill Road, at 7 p.m. Friday, February 5 Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10.