Much has been written about the Greenwich Village of the 1960s and the changing face of Greenwich Village is forever in the news. But every now and then you can still come across a shop that seems frozen in time with an almost museum-like quality. Hop on our magic carpet and take a ride to The Music Inn on West 4th Street.
Originally known to be a very cool record shop owned by one Jerry Halpern, the shop soon became laden with guitars once owned by the many musicians who lived in the area. Halpern’s interest in African music and instruments soon broadened the percussion section and in the end, more instruments than records crowded the shops two floors.
Opening in 1958 on the ground floor and basement of this six story building built in 1900, The Music Inn was frequented by the likes of Bob Dylan when he lived just a few doors down at 161 West 4th Street (and wrote “Positively 4th Street”), as well as John Lennon and John Sebastian, to name a few.
Jeff Slatnick, the current owner, worked at The Music Inn on and off in the early 1960s and permanently since the 1970s. It was his love of exotic instruments that has created what the shop is today. A colorful, musical, eclectic mix of over 1,000 instruments from many corners of the World. You are greeted at the entrance by kotos from Japan and move on to sitars, mandolins, all kinds of drums, guitars, fiddles and on and on.
When you walk by the shop, you are likely to find the front door wide open and quite possibly a few of the employees making music with whomever might stop by to peruse. The very friendly staff encourages any attempt, no matter how feeble, in your quest to hear what it sounds like – even if you don’t quite know what it is. His very knowledgeable staff can tell you what specific part of the World each comes from as well as the customs and culture behind each one.
Several years ago, one of his employees – who is quite a good artist – did a sketch of Jeff with his Son Coulee in a sort of comic form. A seed planted and with great enthusiasm a new venture was born in the form of the Music Inn Comics, which can be purchased at the shop or read online.
The S.D. Limulus Electric Zarode, guitar and basses are designed and built by Jeff Slatnick, the owner, and sold at The Music Inn. He feels that this is the next logical step in the evolution of both the traditional sarode and the electric guitar. It is truly a beautiful instrument. Tuning instruments, teaching music, repairing instruments and creating new instruments are all done right there.