Rob Balint has been a part of the Windsor music scene for over four decades, from his days with The Hitmen of Windsor to his current band, The 519 Band. With all of this experience, Rob has seen the local music community evolve and he knows firsthand the challenges of being a professional musician and developing his craft. The past year and a half has been particularly difficult for most musicians and has given rise to a lot of time for introspection and introspection on his career choices. It was also a time of increased creativity and ideas for many artists and not one to waste his time, Balint worked on his own ideas.
Here is his story:
This is a story that has derailed COVID-19. “I am a member of Local 566 of the American Federation of Musicians and I am one of the elected directors. Before COVID-19, we were trying to plan a fundraiser for the Mitch Lewis Music Educational Fund. Mitch was a beloved and well-known Windsor musician who gave a lot to the Windsor music community.
This fund offers opportunities for young musicians. At the time, I was playing in bars when I was 16. I shouldn’t have, but I was and it was like that back then, you had more places and opportunities to play.
These days it seems a lot harder to play anywhere and then add COVID-19 to that. We were going to ask union groups like Leave these Kids Alone to come and play this benefit to raise money for the fund. Then COVID-19 hit and all plans derailed. At that point, I realized that this could go on indefinitely and that we weren’t working, so I got the idea to set up this studio, partly for our group, The 519 Band, but also as a way for me to give back to music. community and pay next.
Two years before COVID-19 I was looking for things to do and got a call from Mike Lesperance at IEN (International Entertainmnet Network Inc.) who runs the Colosseum shows at Caesars Windsor and he told me that Ringo Starr was coming to town and we needed a whole bunch of people. He said, “Can you backline, do you want to come?” I said hell, I’ll give it a try, and I was there every gig after that.
I have a lot of experience, insight, knowledge and I also have a lot of compassion and passion for music, so what can I do? I can’t generate money for the kids, but I can certainly bring them here.
The idea is to bring a group of young people here and show them how a sound stage is set up. We’ll be set up like a concert hall and there will be vintage amps around it if they want to plug one in and try it out, they can.
If they write songs, we’ll give them the opportunity to play that song and learn how the monitoring and pre and post-production work. Things as simple as how to wind a cord properly, we will teach them these things. Even though it’s four hours a week for a group of individuals, I’ll give my time for it. The only reason I’m doing this is to give back to the community and let the kids explore.
This studio will be completely inclusive. Hatred has no focus here. I want everyone who comes here to feel comfortable and safe, regardless of race, color, creed or sexual orientation. Music is universal and everyone who loves music is my friend. Can you imagine if the next Stevie Ray Vaughan passed this way? Everyone has something to offer, everyone has a talent.
We will also be renting the studio to budding producers who don’t have a studio to work on. I will have computers installed and everything wired so they can just plug in and go.
I will never buy Pro Tools. I’ve already found out that if I send my Tascam files to a guy at Pro Tools he can take them and clean them up and send them back to me and they’re great. The idea here isn’t to spend three or four hundred thousand dollars on that rabbit hole, I can offer my clients an affordable option to work on their music.
We’ve got half a dozen Turbo monitors, a Tascam hybrid board, a 24-track digital recorder, and a 24-channel analog mixer, which is cool and we also have a 24-channel Soundcraft. I’m going to give people a place to work on their music for a lot less than going to a high-end studio so that when they’re ready to go to that expensive studio, they’re prepared.
We are planning to make a video recording here as well and open this space to the public. I have a smooth opening scheduled around Christmas and in January the plan is to open it to the public. Paul Bonventre from Showtime Productions Inc. was a big help. A lot of the equipment I bought for this project I got from him and he supports me a lot in what I do.
The material for the big festivals is now completely digital, so Paul sells us his analog material which is becoming obsolete for him but it’s still good material, especially for something like that. Chris Borshuk, president of the Windsor Federation of Musicians is also supporting me in this project. 519 Band and I have a large network of social media followers and we’re going to start with word of mouth and see where it goes.
“The Groove” studios will officially open in the New Year and Rob can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Also consult Band 519 on Facebook.
Photo: Dan Boshart