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Fort Wayne’s answer to School of Rock

Jam Crib offers bands professional rehearsal space and a whole lot more

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


For decades, there have been a few tried and true rehearsal spots that rock n’ roll bands have turned to in times of need — the garage, the basement, even the living room, if your family or housemates are especially understanding, or at least absent during practice time. But any musician knows that for band practice, these spaces are hardly ideal. They present all kinds of problems, including (but not limited to) acoustics, inadequate electrical outlets, and shouts of “turn it down!” from the neighbors.

Major music hotbeds like Los Angeles, Nashville, and Chicago are packed with rehearsal facilities, even if some of those spaces resemble glorified storage lockers with acoustic treatment tacked to the walls. Even Indianapolis has a couple. But Fort Wayne…

“Fort Wayne has a lot of great recording studios, and a lot of great music stores, but no professional place to practice,” says Tim Coffel, a local musician and business man who aims to fill that gap with the Jam Crib, a new state-of-the-art rehearsal facility he recently opened on North Anthony.

Coffel, who currently drums with Katzenjammer, describes himself as an “International Harvester kid.” He spent time in Fort Wayne when younger, though he moved around a lot. He got a business degree from IPFW, and when International Harvester closed, he worked at General Dynamics in Michigan. 13 years ago, he came back to Fort Wayne and bought the Shiloh reception hall, which he sold last summer. The Jam Crib began with Coffel trying to design the ideal rehearsal space for his band, and he realized he might be on to something. “I’ve been a musician all my life, and as a musician, you spend most of your time practicing,” Coffle says. “Why not have an exceptional place to do that in?”

Exceptional is the right word for the Jam Crib. The facility is outfitted with seven rehearsal studios. There are five “Jam Rooms” — 13’ x 18’ acoustically treated spaces, each outfitted with a PA system, microphones, mixing boards, and an Alesis Masterlink recorder. “Bands can record their rehearsals, and burn a CD at the end of practice to take home,” Coffel says. In addition, three of the Jam Rooms also contain Fender guitar amps, a Hartke bass amp, and a Yamaha drum kit, so bands can plug in and get to work as quickly as possible.

A sixth, smaller room featuring another Yamaha drum kit serves as the “Drummer’s Studio.” But the Jam Crib’s crowning space might be the Sound Stage room — 900 square feet, with a full scale 360 square foot performance stage, PA system and concert-style lighting in the works. “That’s a place where bands can work on their routines, or videotape their performance,” Coffel explains. “We’re messing with the idea of maybe doing a webcast show from here, especially for some of these high school-aged bands that aren’t old enough to play out in the bars.”

The Sound Stage room will also serve as the main facility for some of the other programs Coffel has in development, like the “Jam League,” an organized jam session that would run from 7 – 9 pm nightly. “As we get interested people signing up, we’ll form different jam groups, like a bowling league, and make it a real fun, social activity,” he says.

But what Coffle seems most excited about is a program called Jam School (“kind of our take on School of Rock,” he jokes). Basically, Jam School would teach young musicians how to play in a band. “My 16-year-old, he’s in the school band program where he gets organized instruction, but when he gets out in the garage with his buddies and they try to put together a song, it’s kind of hit and miss.” he says. “We think there’s an opening in the market to teach kids how to play as a little combo unit.”

Coffle says each course lasts seven weeks, with 18 students to a class, and meet once a week for two hours (the first one starts July 5). There will be a Master class in the Sound Stage room for an hour, and then students would break off into groups of six in the rehearsal studios for the second hour. “I’ve been working with folks who are both private instructors and professional musicians,” Coffle says. “What we’re doing is, we’re not going into the private instruction aspect, but doing essentially a group lesson. We’ve been talking to all the private music instructors. Now, the students have something where they can apply what they’ve learned in their private lessons, and it also gives them it gives them an incentive to go back and develop individual skills on their instrument.”

Jam Crib
3319 North Anthony Blvd
For information on rates and Jam School, call (260) 422-1654

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