Many of the artists who have been honored as Inductees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame got their start kicking out the jams in a humble garage. With that in mind, the Rock Hall is now offering visitors the opportunity to travel that same rehearsal-room-to-rock-immortality path with the Garage, an innovative new interactive exhibit.
The Garage is the Hall’s first-ever dedicated space for visitors to not only view instruments, but actually pick them up, crank the volume and create music just like their heroes. In essence, it recalls the same early-days environs of many legendary rock stars, minus the screaming parents and local cops hassling you to turn down the volume—and with much, much better gear.
Get ready to rock
The Garage is separated into five main areas, including a practice space, a jam room and even a gear exhibit where fans can learn about some of the key instruments of rock and check out historic instruments from the Hall’s collection.
The practice space is where it all begins. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned musician with years of experience under your guitar strap, you can immediately pick up an instrument, cue up an instructional video and get to work mastering a variety of Hall of Famers’ songs in a range of styles, from classic rock and soul to grunge and hip-hop and beyond.
You’re with the band
Once you have the basics under your belt, you can head over to the jam room to get together with friends and fellow visitors and create a genuine pickup band. There, you and your new band mates can participate in freestyle jam sessions, try your hand at recording tracks and even “brand” your new band with custom merchandise.
“We wanted it to have that sort of D.I.Y., everything is possible, you’re just getting started kind of feel,” says Mandy Smith, the Rock Hall’s Director of Education. “We wanted to capture that in visitors who have already had that experience and take them on a trip down memory lane. Like ‘Oh my god. I remember 40 years ago, when I was 14 years old and I went to my friend’s garage and jammed.’ I was in my first garage band 25 years ago, when I was 12 years old, and I feel like we really captured that.”
Great gear, right at your fingertips
The Garage indeed captures that—and more. Because while your best friend’s two-car, cold concrete space probably felt like the center of the musical universe when you were a kid, it likely wasn’t stocked with top-notch gear like Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Strats, Martin D-28 acoustics, and Marshall JCM900 and vintage Fender silver face Super Reverb amps, as well as an assortment of basses, keyboards, drums, microphones and more.
“The only places you can really go and pick up an instrument are places like music stores,” says Smith. “Those can be really intimidating for people, and they don’t have an educational purpose; they have a purpose to sell instruments. Having a safe space where kids feel like they can play is really important. And it just so happens that adults want to play rock n’ roll too, so it works for age zero to infinity.”
“There’s nothing better than the thrill of cranking up the volume on an electric guitar,” adds RRHOF President & CEO Greg Harris. “And visitors can now do exactly that at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!”