Music finds us…

A few weeks ago I received an extremely heart warming letter about metal music… more importantly about how it changed the life of one woman and in turn how she has used that passion to change the lives of others. Please find the letter from Hope below.~Phil

Metal at Midnight p1 Metal at Midnight p2


What a night!

A huge thank you to Seymour Duncan, Jimmy Vivino & The Basic Cable Band, SLASH, Robert Randolph, Alan Parsons, and Don Felder. To say this was an EPIC night, doesn’t really do it justice but no word really would. This was a one-of-a-kind experience for those that were in the audience. The collection of all these incredibly talented musicians on stage making music to support music was truly inspiring! To top it off, we inducted our first Hall of Fame member- Chimaway Lopez! Thanks to Fender he received a brand new Telecaster (his dream guitar) and he sat in for a few songs and shredded alongside SLASH, Jimmy & BCB, and Robert… Can you say life changing!

Proceeds totaling 57,000 from that night benefit Notes for Notes and our sustainability locally and expansion nationally! Thank you to all the artists, sponsors, silent auction sponsors, and advertisers!

Photos courtesy of Robert Redfield and Steve Kennedy.
Notes for Notes
Notes for Notes20131206-936Notes for NotesChim and Slash webNotes for Notes

The Motor has Fuel!

Notes for Notes heading to Motor City!
DETROIT blog graphic

Sunday morning I take a JET to MOTOR city to what is truly an official start to Notes for Notes® presence in Detroit. I find myself in the city that is under the public (and Political) microscope for… any number of issues (pick one) from bankruptcy, corruption, crime to unemployment. However, when you are within the limits of this once great city you can feel the energy from those who drive to make it great again! We aim to be a part of this MOTOR that is fueled by change.

Two weeks ago Juliana and I received a call from the Knight Foundation notifying us that Notes for Notes has received a 40,000 grant from the Knight Art’s Challenge to build our first studio in Detroit (major kudos go to Juliana for her direction and crafting of the grant) This is also a great opportunity to recognize one of our long-time supporters- the Hot Topic Foundation and advocates Joe Emory and Jennifer Vides! The HT Foundation has helped us build and supported our Westside, Nashville, LA, and now Detroit locations! Crucial to our growth, HT understands the power of music in young people’s lives and I’m honored that they are a part of our history and our future. Thank you Joe and Hot Topic!

Fast forward to Sunday and Rod and I find ourselves at the Detroit Institute of Art surrounded by priceless works (BTW one of the most amazing collections of art! Worth the trip) at the Knight Foundation’s trustees dinner. Now, for those that know Notes for Notes you know that cool things just tend happen to us and Sunday was no exception! Walking into the DIA, we knew no one because most everyone here is from Detroit. We gravitate towards the bar and also on his way for a libation is Alberto Ibarguen… the president of the Knight Foundation.  So… we know no one but of course the first person we meet is the president of the whole foundation! We get to talking about Detroit… and Miami where Alberto and the Foundation is based. There is also a Knight Arts Challenge in Miami so perhaps a MusicBox Studio Miami?  The second person we meet (sitting at our table) is trustee Ray Rodriguez (also based in Miami) who was COO of Univision and manager to Julio Inglesias! Needless to say the idea of a studio there is percolating! It was an incredible dinner in an incredible environment! Almost forgot to mention… the dinner started with a surprise Random Act of Culture in which all the waiters suddenly turned flash mob style and began singing opera and serenading the entire audience- INCREDIBLE! It is beyond inspiring to be in a room with so many Detroiters who have such love for their city and are working to make it better, not to mention the honor of working with a foundation who has an investment in the arts of the city. If we could ship Detroiters with their energy to other places around the country to teach city pride we might all be better for it!

Monday followed with some great face time with the Boys & Girls Club and their Development guru Nick Papadas. There are always plenty of details to hammer out with expansion to a new city, but excited to be working with such a stellar BGC team.  For those new to Notes for Notes, in short, we build FREE after-school recording studios in Boys & Girls Clubs providing youth with free access to guitars, drums, keys/synths, DJ gear, digital music workstations  and full recording facilities so that music may become a profoundly positive influence in their lives.  Our facilities called MusicBox Studios ® are located in Clubs in Santa Barbara, Nashville, LA, and coming soon to Ventura and of course Detroit! To learn more, check out Check out the renderings of the Detroit studio on our Flickr.
Detroit MusicBox Studio _ Blue_Jam 1

We were also lucky to catch Phil Cooley for a moment at his project Ponyride-check it out. It is really cool and there are some incredible Detroit entrepreneurs in there. One group Empowerment Plan is a company employing homeless women who make jacket/sleeping bags for donation to Detroit’s homeless- Just incredible! Big Thank you to Phil for his advocacy of Notes for Notes and awareness of the Knight Arts Challenge in the first place. You want to see someone changing Detroit you should see Phil at Ponyride.

We rounded out the trip with the Filmore event which honored all the winners and invited members of the community out to share in the announcement and really the start of another groundswell of artistic change in the city. Those that know me know my standard uniform is a black v-neck, but I broke out the suit and some shirts with buttons for the occasion. If I couldn’t verbally express enough my gratitude for this honor than hopefully the upgrade in attire (if only for a few nights) could. I was honored that Nick from the BGC and Dana Boyette from Paxahau were able to join as well. Very excited to be working with the folks from Paxahau (including Sam as well) who put on the Movement Fest and a bunch of iconic Detroit events, and we are already brainstorming some cool events! I’m intentionally overusing the word “inspiring” because there is no other word that can describe the energy in the room but also in the city. The energy is palpable! Detroiters are proud of their city and beneath the decayed buildings and dismal statistics is a phoenix rising fueled by those who see what Detroit is becoming.  (There feels like a possible Batman reference here… hmmm… the Dark Knight (Foundation) Rises?) Detroit will never be what it was… it will be something so much more and Notes for Notes is honored to play our part by “Producing Tomorrow’s Musicians” in Motor City.

-Trust me, it’s me (and a button up shirt)-

This is anything but a solo adventure! Alongside me on this Detroit trip (and the entire N4N quest) is Founding Board President Rod Hare.  As he always says, “it is like a buddy movie” and it truly is.  Notes for Notes would not be what it is without our constant back and forth of ideas. It has taken a team to get us where we are today but I’m glad it all started with a fortuitous stop-by at the teen center.  In 7 years Notes for Notes has grown from a studio in a Santa Barbara City teen center to a national organization with 5 (soon to be 8) studios across the country.  I’m so honored that Notes for Notes is a WE… We have built something beautiful that enhances young people’s lives with music. Thank you Rod, our staff, our board, our artists, our supporters, the Hot Topic Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and now the City of Detroit for allowing us to be a part of your musical history!


Scion Motivate Award

Executive Director Phil Gilley named as one of ten Scion Motivate winners. “Incredibly honored to have the opportunity to showcase the work of Notes for Notes and the direction of the organization with upcoming expansion to Detroit & Los Angeles.” In addition to the honor, the award comes with a 10,000 cash prize of which a portion will be allocated to Detroit expansion as well a Scion car, “which will aid in the increased transportation needs of our development in future cities.”

A huge THANK YOU to Scion who believes in innovation and supporting the ideas and dreams of entrepreneurs. It is companies such as Scion that make it possible for Notes for Notes to grow and continue expanding the mission of the organization.

Check out Scion’s official Press Release HERE and ours HERE


We Thank The N4N-Team!

Do you remember the first time you picked up an instrument or had that music awakening?

I’m sure you do or perhaps it was an experience that dissuaded you from trying it. Every day in every MusicBox across the country our goal is to be that first positive experience for a young aspiring musician. The goal is to inspire and make every youth realize the music potential within themselves to explore a variety of musical avenues. The only way that experience is possible is through the connection established with the Notes for Notes team of Program Directors and Instructors.

To say we are extremely proud of the N4N team is a gross understatement because the truth is it’s impossible to put into words the gratitude we have for this incredible team. We look to every one of our team members for unique and valuable skills that contribute to the vitality and culture of Notes for Notes. We have said it a 1,000 times and it rings true every time… “without our staff, the MusicBoxes would be just really cool rooms filled with really cool gear!” It is every Program Director and Instructor that makes each studio so special and in turn Notes for Notes a force for good. It is through music that we strive to impact lives but it would be but an unattainable dream if it were not for our team in the studios every day. They collaborate, teach, impact and inspire youth every day through music.

We want to take this opportunity to recognize the team that perhaps you don’t get to see all the time. They are the ones behind the camera in videos, behind the mixing board on recordings and backstage as the youth they have rock-trained kill it out on stage opening for Los Lobos and Joe Bonamassa! They are the unsung heroes, that as a music organization we should take this time to SING about! Notes for Notes team of Program Directors (PD) and Staff include Kris Ehrman (PD @ MusicBox East in SB), Taylor Hurtado (PD @ MusicBox West in SB), Jen Hodges (PD @ MusicBox Nashville South), Nick Oldham (PD @ MusicBox Nashville North), Bre Wright (SB Instructor/ Songwriter), Dakota Gartner (Instructor), Hayden Bush (Engineer), Jaan Landheer (SB Outreach Coordinator) and Juliana Lee (our Director of Making Awesome Things Happen)

Since Kris joined N4N he has molded the studio into a versatile space that successfully accommodates a variety of skills and blending of genres. Visit the MusicBox East and you will see a space that is often overflowing with Michael Jackson or Stevie Wonder covers (also courtesy of RICO-you all know Rico) to live hip-hop freestyles to epic Metallica jams! Come Studio Time the booth radiates talent and becomes a meeting of the minds to spawn original works. One of our newest team members, Bre Wright, along with Kris and Caesar have helped Rico create his first finished song (it only took Rico 5 years). Constantly creating a welcoming environment that inspires and generates productivity, Kris is a valuable member of the team and the key to the MusicBox East’s success. Thank you Kris for your tireless efforts to inspire through music!

Taylor Hurtado joined N4N during the build-out of the MusicBox West and was there from the beginning painting walls and hauling gear! A piece of him is in that studio which is what makes it so special. Taylor, a drummer for Naked Walrus-a boot stomping rock band also comprised of fellow N4N team Dakota and Hayden, has infused his energetic and magnanimous personality throughout the studio. The team of Taylor, Dakota and Hayden have been so crucial in preparing the bands for some big performances this past year. Whether it is teaching drums, directing N4N band rehearsals or driving the Pro tools rig, Taylor shows what it means to be a musician because music is not just about playing but sharing yourself through music! As the studio continues to grow in popularity in a much needed area of town, Taylor is always ready to open the door to the studio and a future in music for a hungry young musician.

Jen became the first member of our Nashville team earlier this year when she took over as PD for MusicBox Nashville North. A Berklee Graduate, Jen is versed in a variety of instruments making it possible for her to connect with everyone through one instrument or another. Dominating on the ss guitar she can shift from a Red Hot Chili Peppers song to a hip-hop freestyle after which she can teach a classical piece on piano. Her personality provides a bridge to our musicians that inspires exploration in their music and lives constantly asking “How does this music represent YOU!” She is always seeking out opportunities for artists to visit and engage with participants. The studio’s energy is palpable and infectious and will always leave you wanting more! Thank you Jen for being the ignition and gas pedal for that energy.

Nick Oldham is the newest edition to the team, with just a few weeks under his belt (officially) at the time of this post. Nick has been volunteering since late August after being referred to the organization from another great volunteer, Hannah Williams. He is a veteran of the industry in number of different areas but what shines the most when you first meet Nick is his professional, laid-back yet driven personality that makes you want to work for him. His skills are unsurpassed in vocal coaching and hook writing. After just five minutes in a vocal workshop youth are locked in as they are looking to increase their vocal capacity just as much as they are seeking that Oldham stamp of approval. In the few short weeks since Nick started, the studio has become that much more effective in operation and production. If you need a hook for your song, count on Nick to draw it out of you in a way that makes you realize your own potential!

Another recent addition to our SB force is Jaan Landheer, a tireless advocate and N4N Outreach Coordinator. While every studio is capable of selling itself when you walk through the threshold our success is bolstered by spreading the word of the resources available. Jaan has been hitting the streets (literally) setting up studio visits, speaking with classes and organization and building more advocates for N4N in the community. Jaan, who also works at Noah’s Anchorage with homeless youth is sharing a piece of himself that truly shows his capacity to give. His passion for youth and work with N4N is an integral part of our growing success and most importantly the success of future musicians. As Jaan continues to spread the word, new youth come into the studios and are greeted by the rock personality of Bre Wright. Bre continues to infuse the Santa Barbara studios with her unique energy responsible for inspiring new youth and driving the completion of new songs. A versatile musician with indomitable energy we are lucky to have Bre on the team!

A stroke of serendipity brought Juliana Lee to N4N. Knighted Director of M.A.T.H (Making Awesome Things Happen) Juliana embodies this title which puts her at the front lines in taking N4N to the next level! An advocate for N4N for years through her work with Youth Fighting Back Mentor Program she always found a way to create opportunities for the youth she worked with to find their way to the MusicBoxes. Since N4N was able to divert her form her original plans of moving to Washington DC in early June, Juliana has been integral in furthering the name of Notes for Notes in Nashville and Santa Barbara. Building relationships are at the core of the organization, Juliana exemplifies what it means to do so in the community as she is tirelessly out there generating buzz, partnerships and advocacy for the mission. She brings a complimentary personality to the organization that in a very short time has further elevated the professionalism and reputation of N4N locally and abroad!

In the grand scheme of it all, N4N is just getting started yet we have already come so far thanks to this incredible team! “It takes a village” and in that village are amazing people who have made it their passion to ensure that the next generation is inspired by music and all that it can offer. N4N would not be the organization it is without the devotion of each team member infusing the best of the themselves in every MusicBox.

Thank you team… you are Notes for Notes!

“Ernest… I mean Phil goes to SXSW”

Lets see… “S” is for Springsteen, another for “Sons, as in Mumford and…, the “W” for White as in Jack White and the “X”…? It started off heading south west on Southwest and… (you can see where I am going with this) headed to SXSW for the first time.  Every year at this time the music industry descends on Austin, TX for panels educating on all aspects of music, showcases and parties featuring new bands and huge bands (Jack White, Delta Spirit, Tom Morello, 50 cent…) Needless to say you can’t go anywhere with out seeing and hearing music from all genres. On one corner a giant Doritos vending machine with a stage inside and on the other a 3 stage MTV festival that the day before was a vacant parking lot. For every amazing show I saw there was an equally amazing intro I made at the conference.


As enjoyable as the music was (which I will get to) my trip to SXSW was to all about building more relationships for Notes for Notes within the industry. As I am sure all you know, Notes for Notes is no stranger to serendipity. Our good friend Brendan at Receptive Music (who built the N4N site you are on now) picked me up at the airport on Wed…and three strangers. The line for a cab was absurd, encroaching on 3 hrs so Brendan with 3 empty seats offered them up to some folks who also happened to have just come in from Nashville. What are the odds? Well…probably pretty good considering the amount of Nashville music industry populatingAustin, however, what are the odds that one of our passengers was an agent at CAA inNashville! CAA is a huge talent agency with offices everywhere and would be a great resource for not only artist intros but also to educate our participants on another side of the music industry. Not only that, I ran into Matthew (our CAA passenger) again at the CAA SXSW party the next day and chatted further about some collaborations.

And it just got better from there with some very relevant panels for N4N. I checked out one called “Doing Good, Doing Better” featuring Marika from Arcade Fire, My Morning Jackets manager Mike Martinovich, Mike Mills from HeadCount and Erin Potts from ATC (connecting Artists with causes). Very interesting panel about how Artists can align themselves with causes they are passionate about for campaigns, concerts, etc. Managed to connect with everyone post panel. Marika who support causes forHaitiwith Arcade Fire mentioned they might be doing something similar to N4N in Haiti(N4N Haiti?) I also have to write up a little blog about my valet component of the N4N history for a post on look for that soon. After that panel, I swung by a Delta Spirit show (great band if you haven’t checked them out yet and hopefully they can swing by our Nashville MusicBox studio in April) That night I lucked out with the SXSW lotto and got to see Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band (all 16 of them) at the ACL Moody theater (>2500 cap) What a show!!! (worthy of way more than 3 exclamation points, so here is a few more)!!!!!!!!!!!! I have never seen a performer like him before. Every song had the energy that a final song would for any other band. The Boss even crowd surfed. Here is a few pics and video from that night in which Jimmy Cliff, Eric Burden and Tom Morello also joined him on stage.

Friday was a long… but epic day. I think I logged in between 5-10 miles of pavement walking. Started off with some early morning intimate performances for radio at the W hotel with Tom Morello and James Mercer from the Shins. I didn’t get a chance to talk with Tom about N4N but did with his rhythm guitar player. Caught an interesting panel about “garage recording” and connected with the Avid artist relations rep. Avid supported N4N last year with some PT9 licenses yet I didn’t have a direct contact… now we do. Post panel I watched some of Gary Clark Jr perform and hung with Mr. Eric Shiflett (who along with Jeff Theimer schooled me in the ways of SXSW) In the afternoon I caught our friend Brendan’s panel on Direct to Fan marketing, which was packed-glad to see a great turnout. After the panel I connected with our friend Benji at Pledge Music whom we are currently brainstorming some collaborations with. I also met Emily White there who manages Brendan Benson (The Raconteurs). Brendan is also aNashvilleresident and has a studio there called “Welcome to 1979” so hopefully we can get him involved. The day rounded out with some conversations with the Marley headphone folks about getting some units donated for the studios and last but far from least…the THIRDMAN RECORDS SXSW showcase. It was great to catchup with the Thirdman guys (Ben and Julien) and see Jack perform. If you get the chance you have to catch him on tour. He performs with two bands; an all female and then an all male and is a constant reminder of a man devoted to his craft. His tastes are so eclectic so there is something for everyone! Plus John C. Reilly made an appearance with some originals.






Friday seemed like two days, from the walking to the 20 hrs of just being awake in downtownAustin. However, Saturday brought an interesting panel on the “Values of Vinyl” and an introduction to Jay at United Record Pressing (inNashville). Hopefully we can bring groups over to tour the factory and see how records are made plus learn about the history of it all. Very interesting panel that hammers home the tactile relationship that can exist between music and a fan. Thanks to our relationship with Thirdman Records youth inNashvilleare getting turned on to NEW music all together because of the medium. I think I am going to get a record player for the release of Jack’s new album!

Saturday ended with a bang and a screening of Emmett Malloy’s “Big Easy Express”- a documentary following Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros on their concert tour along the railroad across the south west. Great film and congrats to Emmett who also heads up Brushfire Records withJack Johnsonand helped coordinate Jack’s visit to our one of our SB MusicBox Studios a few years back. Following the screening, Mumford and Edward Sharpe performed. For those that have never seen Mumford & Sons perform…you got to catch them at some point- they know how to put on a show! Here is a little iphone footage of them performing a new track. I bet you can still catch the performance somewhere on myspace too.

Crazy, busy, loud, productive, fun, epic and rewarding just about sums up my first SXSW experience. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky I get to do Notes for Notes and it is surreal experiences like this that amplify that reminding. Who would have thought this fledging organization would be expanding nationwide and I would be roaming the music industry inundated streets ofAustin,TXfurthering awareness. Thank you to everyone that has gotten us this far and continues to help us grow! To echo Edward Sharpe’s closing message from Saturday “this is for everyone who is here… and for everyone that isn’t” And I got a free pair of shoes from Vans!

Let Music Live!



Grand Opening/ Open House Nashville MusicBox #1

Please join us for the Grand Opening/ Open House of our first MusicBox in Nashville, TN in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tenneessee. It has been quite a journey from inception in 2006 in Santa Barbara, CA to the opening of our first location in a new city. We are extremely excited to be a part of the Nashville community and look forward to  showing you the future of Notes for Notes and the music resources now available to area youth… for FREE.

In advance we thank you for your support Nashville as you have embraced the organization and made it possible for us to do what we do. Stop by on February 2, 2011 between 3:30-6:30pm to learn more about Notes for Notes, see the studio and remember what it would have been like to have these resources as an aspiring musician.

The MusicBox Studio is located inside the Andrew Jackson Boys & Girls Club at 916 16 Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208

AND if you have musical instruments (guitars, drums, keys/synths, turntables, computers, digital music creation tools, studio gear, or something really cool) that you would like to donate please bring them as we are currently developing a second Nashville MusicBox at the Preston Taylor Boys & Girls Club.

Look forward to seeing you there!

View Larger Map
Please contact Philip Gilley (Executive Director/ Founder) with any questions at 805-318-3657 or


Notes for Notes Nashville-NOW OPEN!

The first Nashville MusicBox Studio is open and we are making music right out of the gate. It is hard to believe that just shy of a year ago we began talking about expanding to Nashville. I made the first trip to Nashville in early December 2010 for an investigatory trip and returned with overwhelming support. On trip #2 in April 2011 Rod and I hoped on a Frontier flight and rallied even more support among some very cool folks, including the most important support from the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee. I made a follow up trip in early June and officially made the drive across country in mid-august to begin getting to the task at hand. This entire expansion would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of the Hot Topic Foundation (and Joe Emory).  There is an incredible amount of equipment and resources in the studio thanks to the Gibson Foundation, KRK, Numark, Sheryl Crow, Thridman Records and Jack White, Avid, Propellerhead, Peavey, Seymour Duncan and Ernie Ball Strings.

Check out the tour below as well as some other video nuggets of the awesome musical action already happening in the new MusicBox Studio. If you find yourself in Nashville, please stop by for a visit (just as Michael and Anne Towbes did)

Notes for Notes Nashville
MusicBox Studio
916 16th Ave North
Nashville, TN 37203