By John Burton
ASBURY PARK – Songwriter/producer/musician Jon Leidersdorff saw a need in the local music business and education scene and began working to fill it.
Now about five years later, Leidersdorff is putting the finishing touches on his Lake House Music Academy.
Leidersdorff, 44, who lives in Interlaken with his wife and two young children, has been on the music scene for much of his life. He realized that for he and his musician friends, “the only place to connect was at venues” where they played and went to see and hear each play.
As he traveled extensively, he realized how other cities that had “places with scenes for people to communicate and come together are the most successful for music,” he said. When he looked around the Asbury Park area, he saw “there are so many musicians here, so many artists here, but there was a lack of infrastructure here to support the scene.”
With that in mind, Leidersdorff took over a vacant and deteriorating 1930s former warehouse at 619 Lake Ave. and began the five-year process of restoration to create spaces for a variety of businesses centered around music and music education programs.
His Lake House Music Academy cost “millions.” He has had to completely redo everything in the aging space. “It wasn’t even a shell” when he started, he said. “We had to do absolutely everything.”
The three-story, approximately 15,000-square-foot location, with its exposed brick walls and newly varnished wood floors, is almost completed. It houses a retail space on the first floor for musical instruments – the walls are lined with hanging guitars of every variety – and sundry items and Russo Music, a café formerly on Cookman Avenue.
The building’s second floor will be used by an Internet radio station; two recording studios, with available lodging for traveling bands; and rehearsal space that is available for rent by the hour. The studio space was designed by John Storyk, an architect, acoustician and a leader in his field, Leidersdorff said.
Space on the third floor is designated for a business called Bands on a Budget, which helps band merchandize and sell souvenirs. “They’ll get your T-shirts ready,” was how Leidersdorff explained the business.
The building’s upper floors also have office space and a conference room that will be used by a music lawyer, a graphic design artist and a web developer.
A professional music manager, Brian Nelson, who represents among others, the British singer/songwriter Joss Stone, a “humongous artist,” Leidersdorff said, will also occupy the office.
“Different businesses interacting creates opportunities that wouldn’t exist if we weren’t in the same space,” Leidersdorff said.
One of the location’s main features is its music academy, featuring group performances and individual lessons.
According to Leidersdorff, there are programs available for those as young as 6 months to adults of all ages. One of the liveliest groups, he said, is an over-40 group that comes to perform and learn.
Stepping back and looking at his work, Leidersdorff said, “I see potential. I see a lot of possibility. Now it’s important to invite people who want to be creative and participate in this space.”