Consignment shop

Waterview Music, a full service resource in downtown Barnegat

MEET THE BAND: (Top, from left) Choir director Jeffery Thyer, store owner and guitarist Jason Schlusser and guitarist Jeremy Renner welcome music lovers to shop, play and learn. (Photos by Ryan Morrill)

Southern Ocean County is unique in that it is home to a thriving music scene, filled with a myriad of diverse full-time musicians. Bars, cafes and concert halls abound, but what resources do musicians have to buy, sell, trade or repair their equipment? Until December, the closest stores were Russo’s Music, located in Monmouth County, or Guitar Center, in Atlantic County, which has been demonized by most music lovers as a corporate freak.

Fortunately, Jason Schlusser, who is a Surf City resident for half the year, was happy to fill that void when he opened Waterview Music, located at 690 East Bay Ave. in downtown Barnegat. “The goal is to be the anti-Guitar Center, he said frankly. He proudly models his business on that of How You Brewin? cafe in Surf City. The criteria it borrows aim to create a clean and family community space, and favors quality over quantity. Knowing the need for a musician’s resources, Schlusser said: “It was a case of” if you build it, they will come. “”

Schlusser is a guitarist trained in jazz percussion and music technology.

“Over the years, I’ve owned recording studios, a booking agency, another (music) store, do live sound…” he explained. “Anything you could do in this industry, I did.” When not living in Surf City, he commutes from Hoboken. “Let’s just say I spend a lot of time on the walk. “

A few years ago, Schlusser bought a post-Sandy house in Surf City and completely renovated it. This experience worked in his favor when he saw the vacant storefront in historic downtown Barnegat. The space was once home to Tobacco Road, owned by former mayor Jeff Melchiondo.

Like many other seasonal residents, Schlusser’s family hibernated during quarantine in Surf City, where he homeschooled his children. He spent most of the next year renovating the store.

“Most of the time, it was just me with a hammer and a crowbar, because what else was I going to do?” He thanked Dover Construction, parked just across the street, for helping him with tasks he couldn’t handle on his own.

During the pandemic year, Schlusser’s Surf City neighbor Jeffery Thyer also stayed on the island rather than returning to his primary residence in south Philadelphia. During the darker months, they made the most of their time at home by playing music together. When Schlusser opened his music store on December 1, Thyer was the first employee, or “bandmate,” as Schlusser described it, to join us.

In Philadelphia, Thyer sings in the Singing City Community Chorus, of which he serves on the programming committee and the choir council. He and Schlusser hope to create a community choir within Waterview Music.

Among the many instruments adorning the walls is this 30th Anniversary Edition of Warwick W Rockbass, signed by Extreme, Winger and King’s X. Visit Waterview Music for information on instruments, merchandise and lessons.

Thyer, who jokingly rhymes with “choir,” is aptly a choir director who makes a living as a musical travel agent. His company organizes international concert tours for choirs and orchestras. He organizes everything from flights, buses and hotels to promotion and marketing, to material selection, to the final details of the concert itself. “We are a music travel agency, and everything we do is focused on the mission of this group and how we can promote that mission.

Schlusser explained, “The takeaway for me throughout his journey is that from the actual selection of material to rehearsal to performance to physically moving a choir – that got us to say OK. , why don’t we start an adult community choir here, and put all its tools to use? “

Schlusser knew he would need one more guitar-savvy employee, but didn’t promote it. Instead, he stuck with an instinct that told him the right person would come in. Coincidentally, Jeremy Renner (known as the lead guitarist of the Buddy Holly tribute band The Rave-Ons) walked around the same week to check out the store. Renner is now another “companion” who is happy to talk boutique and give non-intimidating lessons and explanations to customers interested in music.

Waterview Music aims to serve the needs of the local music community as a hub for sales, services and lessons. Although the store focuses on guitars, it also sells quality string, percussion, and keyboard instruments at all price points. Cables, strings and other music accessories can also be found, including horn reeds and sound accessories.

Waterview also provides a safe and reliable platform for people to sell their instruments on consignment at very competitive prices.

Every guitar purchase comes with a basic setup, and guitar and keyboard purchases come with two free lessons to suit any player. Beyond the first two lessons, all lessons are taught in a practical, group-like setting.

“Music is communication,” Schlusser explained, adding that anyone can practice licking alone in a room all day long, but ultimately will not have the skills to be able to perform on. scene with others. “To play with others, you have to use your ears.”

The store offers a full menu of guitar services such as guitar stringing and re-stringing, polishing, maintenance, alterations and repairs. Schlusser and Renner are just happy to show customers how to use their gear, which as many gamers know can save people a huge amount of time and money because, as the saying goes, “We don’t know what we don’t know “. Renner’s courses are tailored to each client’s unique situation.

All guitars (including bass) are repaired in-house, but other instruments are sent to K&S in Millburn for repair. “They are the gold standard,” Schlusser said. “In fact, they are working with us to set up a scholarship program. So obviously we want to be able to rent clarinets to middle school and high school students, and part of these rentals will go into our scholarship fund, ”he explained. “We are here to support the community and hopefully give them a service that a national limited company cannot.”

The store also rents orchestral instruments for students as well as percussion guitars for people on vacation who have forgotten to bring one, or for someone who wants to participate in a Waterview jam, but has not. guitar handy.

Schlusser’s business decisions are driven by personal experience. He recounted a trip to Spain, when his guitar did not arrive from Heathrow in Spain. “I had to go to a crazy little store and buy a guitar for $ 350 because there was no way I could spend all my time on a sailboat with friends without a guitar!”

At the rear of the store is a multipurpose assembly room, which can be rented as a practice or recording space. Sound system, drums, keys and amps are all included for one rental price.

With the community in mind, Schlusser also hopes to host a variety of monthly community jams for all skill levels, including a possible doo wop jam, a bluegrass jam, maybe a Grateful Dead night and even an exploration of jazz, according to the artist. ‘interest. He would also like to see monthly drum circles come to fruition. Thyer will lead an adult vocal ensemble on Wednesdays and Thursdays, browsing a variety of material from classical to Broadway. They will also continue in season, singing Christmas carols and other holiday tunes in December and Irish folk songs around St. Patrick’s Day, for example. The hope is to provide a non-religious choir experience for singing enthusiasts.

Waterview Music doesn’t just meet the needs of adults. “I have two young daughters. I am very sensitive to things being suitable for children, girls, families and beginners! ” A steel drum workshop for children is already under construction. For the little ones, Waterview Music also offers “Mommy and Me” music lessons on Thursday mornings.

Some would say that a physical store cannot compete with the Internet. Quite the contrary, Schlusser said.

“You will often see products here (for) cheaper than you can find online – and even on our website. This is because there is a minimum advertising price involved in listing items for sale online. “What if you had to return something?” Forget. You lost all the money you saved (by ordering online) and more. “

The real benefit of a brick and mortar store, Renner and Schlusser added, is that it allows people to come in and ask questions. This ensures that they are getting the right product at the right price. “And you can play steel drum while you’re here,” Schlusser joked. “We don’t have all the nuts and bolts, but we carry good, solid stuff. “

Non-musicians can also come and buy a gift for the music lovers in their life, even if they have no technical knowledge. The store is a fun place to shop for Waterview merchandise, such as handcrafted trucker caps, shirts and mugs by Matt Burton from the mt burton gallery in Surf City. (Fun fact, Burton and Schlusser attended the same high school.)

The fact that so many restaurants and bars are music venues shows that “people really care” about live music, Renner shared. So, he added, “having a hub is really cool.”

“It’s a company that gives back,” Thyer said, to which Schlusser added: “And being a small store, we have some leeway to be creative.”

Waterview Music is open noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Visit the store website, waterviewmusic.com, on Facebook at @WaterviewMusicNJ or call 609-300-4301 to stay up to date with the latest events and classes.

– Monique M. Demopoulos

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