Country musicians Kira Isabella and Aaron Pritchett pose for a photo prior to rehearsal at Music Makers studio in Surrey on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 10. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

‘It has been really fun’: Owner of Newton music studio wants to sell and tune out

Country artist Aaron Pritchett was at Music Makers on Thursday, with band and Kira Isabella

Bob Douglas has put his popular music rehearsal studio up for sale, for more than a song.

In Newton, the White Rock resident has owned and operated Music Makers since 2011, and now he’s looking to enjoy retirement in other ways.

“It has been really fun, but it’s a lot of work going back and forth, and I have other stuff I want to do,” Douglas said. “I might want to go back playing (music) while I still can, and do some other things, too, like travel.”

On Thursday afternoon, country artist Aaron Pritchett and his band booked Music Makers’ penthouse studio to rehearse for a 35-date, cross-Canada tour that starts Friday (Jan. 11) on Vancouver Island and includes a date at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre on Tuesday (Jan. 15).

“I didn’t even know this place existed, I have to admit, because of the fact that when my band and I rehearse it’s basically at sound-check for a show,” said the North Delta-raised Pritchett, who lives in Nanaimo these days.

“They’re such great musicians, and that’s not just pumping their tires. The other thing, too, is that everyone lives all over the place, and they’re out of town a lot. Getting everyone together like this is rare, for rehearsal, but this is something special, prior to us going on tour.”

Music Makers includes two 400-square-foot spaces on the first floor and a second-floor studio of nearly 1,000 square feet. The asking price is $649,000.

Studio clients have included Lee Aaron, Darby Mills (of Headpins fame), Jerry Doucette, Alfie Zappacosta and metal band Obsidian. A few years ago, North Delta-raised rock quartet Theory of a Deadman “locked out” the upstairs room for eight days. “They came in to write some of the tunes for a CD they were about to record, so that was pretty cool,” Douglas recalled during an interview in 2016.

Born and raised in East Van, Douglas played bass on the local scene in the 1960s and ’70s. He was in The Reign and, later, Five Man Cargo, which was managed by Bruce Allen for a time and, according to a post at the website Pnwbands.com, once “spent a year in the basement on the turkey farm we rented on 152nd and Fraser Highway, Surrey, and recorded enough material for an album which was never released.”

In his time away from Music Makers, Douglas is part of the “Blue Crew” that stages concerts at White Rock’s Blue Frog Studios. Douglas’ role is “front-end management” – a greeter who looks after concert-goers, pretty much.

With Music Makers, he’s ready to let go and move on.

“I’ve been talking about selling for about a year now,” he said, “and I had a number of people from the industry who were interested but you know, the building, the unit, is worth a lot of money, and if I were selling the business it wouldn’t really be a challenge. This is my retirement fund, right. Ultimately we want the studio to keep running, that’s my hope.”

Pritchett, who’s touring with Ottawa-born musician Kira Isabella, called Music Makers “a great little rehearsal space” for him and his band.

“Absolutely,” he said, “and it’s so unassuming from the outside. To get to tighten up those things in your show that you need to, this seems perfect. This is the type of place you want for that.”

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tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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