Thursday, June 15, 2023

Goodbye for now to HaveAHeart Studio, the rehearsal space below New Double Dragon

Photos and interview by Stacie Joy 

It was a bittersweet message and offer from musician Cheri Leone in the EVG inbox that had us replying with an immediate “yes!” Did we want to tour one of the last of the underground East Village music studio spaces before it was closed for “renovations?” 

I met up with Cheri and bandmate Matty Karas (together they are the Trouble Dolls) and we venture downstairs, under New Double Dragon at 37 First Ave. between Second Street and Third Street, into the subterranean area that houses their rehearsal space. 

As I get busy snapping photos in the basement, we talk about the space, who else shares the studio (various two- and four-legged friends) and the possible plans for the building.
How did you get the rehearsal space? Where will you go next? 

We found out about the space from a friend of a former bandmate who lived nearby on Third Street. We’ve been rehearsing there, with the Trouble Dolls and various other bands and/or projects, for about 23 years. 

I have no idea where we’ll end up, but we’re actively looking for a new home. I’ve been canvassing the East Village, talking to landlords, brokers — really, talking to any strangers on nearby streets who look like they live in the area — and asking if they know of any available basement spaces for rent. Affordable urban caves are hard to come by! 

Does the space have a name? 

At some point I named the space HaveAHeart Studio, both as a tribute to our (small, furry) part-time cohabitants in the basement, and because I happened to be dealing with some larger, more callous rats at the time, and thought it might act as a word-charm against assholes. 

Who else used the space? 

Pre-COVID there were a few more musicians in there; now it’s Matty, Chris (Trouble Dolls drummer) and I, Rob (East Ghost West Ghost), and Jason (Afroskull, Dark Streets).
Any information about the building? Any chance you can come back once they renovate the space? Or do you think it will be sold and that question will be moot? 

We’re not sure what will happen to the building... Word is that major renovations are planned. [Background here.] BTW shout out to Shawn [Lin] and his family at New Double Dragon! People of the East Village: order big and order often from New Double Dragon, while you still can.
We have been invited back to the future, fabulously renovated 37 First Ave.; hope that offer is good. Decades of EV-infused music have been made at this location. The landlords shouldn’t kill that ancient mojo.


Anonymous said...

I've lived up the block for over 20 years an had no idea this space existed!

Kristin said...

The Joyce Theatre Foundation has taken over what was The Boys Club on 10th Street and Avenue A. The space is now called The New York Center for Creativity and Dance. We have a full floor of sound proof music studio space for rent monthly or hourly. If any of the musicians mentioned in this article are looking for a new space - come and visit to see our music rooms and see if it will work for what you need. Please feel free to contact Claire Westby @ .

Anonymous said...

Wow all this time I was ordering my garlic Broccoli and sesame noodles from the Double Dragon and waiting outside while standing on that metal gate on the sidewalk and I had no idea that it led to a music sound studio underneath that sidewalk and my favorite Chinese take-out place. Incredible.

Matt said...

Talk about underground music! I'm a big fan of the Trouble Dolls.
Awesome voice and songs, best indie-pop around.

Agent00Soul said...

That place was a second home to me for a long time. I practiced with two full-time bands, countless random collaborations , and plenty of times solo there between 2002-2020 as well as storing gear. One of the set lists from a group I was in is still on the chalk board in the article. I’m very surprised it lasted as long as it did to be honest. When I took people down there for the first time, I gave them the full David Attenborough spiel: once there were thousands of rehearsal spaces roaming the East Village, but now they are virtually extinct.