315 Columbia St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Hours: Tue-Fri 2p-2a, Sat-Sun 12p-2a
Subway: F,G to Carroll St
Written by: Heather McCown
In 2005, Geoff and Lynette Wiley turned a storefront into a live music venue. The business is additionally a school, workshop, and theater. It carries the look and feel of a century-old instrument that has been carefully maintained and continues to emit beautiful melodies. Off the beaten path, Jalopy is a music oasis for music enthusiasts.
Located just off the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, Jalopy attracts music lovers who want to listen to something different. “We focus on traditional roots music, old time bluegrass and world music,” states Lynette. In Jalopy, she and Geoff have realized a long-term dream by providing not only a live music venue, but also a home for lessons on guitar, ukulele, fiddle, mandolin and banjo. Geoff leads a staff of six permanent instructors and arranges visiting artist workshops.
“This is the only place to pick up mandolin,” explains Steve, a dedicated student of Jalopy. “And there is no childish or competitive behavior.” Indeed, the vibe is inclusion, bringing people together for a common goal of making and enjoying music; musicians—young and old, beginners to advanced—play together and build confidence in their craft. Due to a resurgence in folk/roots music in Brooklyn, Jalopy’s patrons range from 22 to 75 years old.
This friendly joint is Geoff and Lynette’s home and they happily invite everyone to take part in its activities. Antique and gently used instruments hang in the front room, all reconditioned by Geoff and available for sale. Within moments of setting foot inside, expect to be greeted and enticed into a friendly conversation over a ball jar mug of draft beer or a hot tea. Patrons mingle inside the foyer, on the front stoop, or settle into one of the chairs to listen to the music. There is always a lively banter gently accompanying the twang of strings. Performances take place on a raised stage in the rear of the venue and old church pews and mismatched chairs are scattered around. Geoff handles the sound system and assists the musicians attentively.
Although visiting Jalopy involves a bit of a hike, it is well worth the effort. Come early, stay late, but enjoy the atmosphere, stories, and camaraderie that Jalopy represents.