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Phil Harmonix Studio



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A youth-operated non-profit venture, Phil Harmonix Studio at YES offers low-income youth ages 13-22 in our isolated, impoverished 9-town region of Western Massachusetts with affordable access to:
▪ practice and rehearsal space
▪ recording, mixing, mastering
▪ lessons

It began in 2000, with Phil Benoit, then 20, who had a vast love of music. Music returned the favor, helping him break out from the blackness and isolation that schizophrenia had wreaked on his late teen years. His foray back into society started with a YES youth entrepreneurship class, in which he developed a plan to bring more musical opportunities and resources to our region. But a car accident in 2001, just days after his 21st birthday, killed Phil before he could present his plan. His classmates presented the plan to a tearful audience, but his dream didn't survive him. Until 2005.

That year, a teen named John Williamson, then 16, was released from a juvenile incarceration facility in California and arrived in our region to live with an aunt. He had never met Phil, but after taking the same YES class and hearing Phil’s story, he decided, as a fellow lover of music with no musical outlet or support and wounds of his own to heal, to create a music studio for teens downstairs at YES (they named it “Phil Harmonix”, after Phil and “philharmonic”, or “love of music”). John raised $6,500 and gathered a group of YES members to break ground with the help of a paid contractor. But the effort was derailed when the inspector determined construction was not to code and would need to be dismantled.

Money spent, lesson learned, the project languished until 2009, when YES' North Quabbin Young Leaders Council revived it. They raised $13,800 and worked 18 months with reputable -- and generous -- contractors, building suppliers, and volunteers to get it done. Meanwhile, a local youth, Bobby Falco-Killoran, 21, entered the picture. Born with cerebral palsy, Bobby inherited his late father's love of music and an in-home recording studio and was preparing for a career in music production. He completed an internship at Northfire Studio in Amherst, MA and a class at Boston’s Berklee School of Music. He honed his skills as a sound man for area clubs and bands, by running his home studio, and by working on his degree and entrepreneurship certificate at Greenfield Community College. In June 2010, he and YES formed a non-profit partnership to manage Phil Harmonix. He moved his gear into the new 1,200 sq. ft. space just in time for its "soft opening" on October 30, 2010 with 75 guests.

Phil Harmonix has since been open 3 days a week. Bobby has recorded 3 young artists and a radio jingle. His Work-Study award pays for his hours, keeping costs down until the Studio becomes self-sustaining (targeted for June 2011). On tap for January is a fundraising CD project called "North Quabbin Youth Do Aerosmith: 9 towns, 9 acts, 9 songs" that will provide young artists 2 hours of free recording to lay down an Aerosmith song of their choice. The public will choose a favorite for each town by voting on-line. The selected acts will return to the Studio for 6 hours of recording, mixing and mastering, each paying a much-discounted fee, that also includes 10 copies of the CD. The CD will be available on a voluntary donation basis starting May 21, 2011 at the Studio’s Barbecue Grand Opening .
Meanwhile, the Studio is seeking to raise funds for finishing touches and needed gear:
• durable, attractive floor coverings (now just bare cement)
• sound-proof drop ceiling in the green room room
• CD duplicator-printer, microphones, patch cord bays, other gadgets

The Studio is also seeking instruments for in-Studio use and for lending to member



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