Opening of the Lowell Music Clubhouse is Music & Youth’s ‘lucky number 13’

By: Paul Crocetti

“It feels good. It gives me more time to do what I love to do,” 16-year-old Matthew said of the new Music Clubhouse at the Greater Lowell Boys & Girls Club.

Just moments earlier, Matthew had played drums on a rocking version of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” to a crowd at the Clubhouse’s grand opening.  It included a special guest – Kelly Olynyk, a center for the Boston Celtics. Matthew just started playing drums, but also plays guitar, sax, bass, ukulele and banjo.

The event on June 18 was two years in the making. That’s when the partnerships started forming. Representatives from the partner organizations – Music & Youth Initiative, TD Bank, and the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation – joined each other for the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the new Clubhouse.

It’s Music & Youth’s “lucky number 13” Clubhouse, said program manager David Bickel.

“As a team, we feel very lucky,” Bickel said.

The Clubhouse features five drum sets, 15 guitars, 4 basses, 2 electric pianos, and 4 student work stations with digital pianos tied into a computer.  The gear is spread out over several rooms, including a state-of-the-art recording studio. It was in that studio that the group gathered after the performance of “Seven Nation Army.”

“When they came in here, they were shocked I recorded it,” said Zachary, 11.

Zachary said the cool-looking recording equipment drew him in and he appreciates the opportunity to work in the studio.

The space is about “fostering an environment where kids can be creative, play and have fun,” said Mike Dion, Clubhouse director.

Dion teaches guitar, bass, keys, drums and vocals, and also offers lessons in recording and beat making. Katie Vooys, a UMass-Lowell student, has been teaching piano through a co-op program.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Vooys said. “I love working with kids.”

In just a few months, the Clubhouse has already raised awareness within the community, as an average of 40 to 60 youth come through the door every day.  Dion has heard positive feedback from a lot of parents. Dion says the clubhouse is helping to keep kids off the street and is expanding its membership every day.

“We’re giving them the tools they need to succeed in life,” Dion said. “And we’re giving them friendship.”