RED BANK: MONMOUTH MUSIC TO CLOSE

Monmouth Music owner Mario DiBartolo plans to open the STEM Music Academy in the space. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Even as he was buying Monmouth Music two years ago, Mario DiBartolo knew he was swimming against the current that has swamped so many small retailers in the past two decades.

Yes, he hoped to retain the Red Bank store’s loyal customers and continue selling guitars and other musical instruments, he told redbankgreen last year. But his investment was really in the Monmouth Street real estate that housed the 30-year-old business, he said.

Now, he’s throwing in the towel on retail.

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RED BANK: FINAL FADEOUT FOR GUITAR PLANT

Now being developed for townhomes, the lot between Catherine and River streets was once home to the Danelectro guitar factory. Below, a Danelectro with the distinctive “coke bottle” headstock. (Photo above by John T. Ward, below courtesy of Lorie Mouklas. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Without fanfare, a half-dozen factory buildings on Red Bank’s West Side were leveled last month, making way for new homes.

Among the structures razed was one that deserves a final flick of the lighter from rock music fans. In the early days of rock ‘n roll, the building at 10 River Street churned out low-priced but distinctive-sounding electric guitars, some of which helped launch the careers of rock superstars such as Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page.

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ON BROAD: ANTIQUES OUT, ARCHTOPS IN

nevada-exchange-2A display of guitars at the Nevada Exchange store on Broad Street. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Step into Nevada Exchange on Broad Street in Red Bank these days and you’re likely to get a history lesson from a feisty Italian-American woman with a passion for a certain brand of esoteric hand-made guitars. Because unless you’re among the cognoscenti on Depression-era guitars, you probably don’t know the importance of D’Angelico guitars and how they now fit in with Red Bank, at least according to Liz Barulic, the Exchange’s manager.

Barulic is a both a student and teacher of the John D’Angelico story. The late New York City-based luthier hand crafted some of the most coveted archtop guitars in the industry between the 1930’s and 1950s, but didn’t quite have the recognition of, say, Les Paul or Leo Fender. That’s where Barulic and Nevada Exchange come in.

Opened as a hybrid antique shop/guitar store a couple of years ago, the Exchange has in recent weeks converted to sell nothing but reproduced D’Angelico guitars, those slick, hollow-bodied beauties prominently displayed in the store’s Broad Street window.

“Les Paul had 90 long years here. (D’Angelico) only had 59 short years on this earth, and I’m going to keep his legacy alive,” Barulic said.

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