Having owned and operated Main Stage Rehearsal Studios in downtown Hamilton for just over a year now, couple Justin Dobbin and Kelly Ng hope to continue be a positive force for music culture in the greater Hamilton area community for years to come.
Located at 747 King Street East, Main Stage Rehearsal Studios is a “one-stop shop for musicians,” as Ng puts it. Dobbin and Kelly have made several renovations and upgrades since taking ownership, and now the building features hourly rehearsal spaces, monthly rental rooms, a live off-the-floor recording space, a showcase and performance venue, and a small music accessories store, in addition to being outfitted with top-of-the-line equipment.
“Our main goal is to provide an affordable music space,” says Ng. “Musicians need to rehearse to play good shows and create quality music. We also want to listen to musicians, recognize their different needs, and provide what music in the Hamilton community needs.”
However, Ng and Dobbin do not want their affordable vision to be confused with cheap or low quality.
“We called the business Main Stage because we feel like every musician wants to perform on a stage. We want people to have pride when they tell others ‘I rehearse at Main Stage.’ That’s where the name comes from: having a goal to be the best stage.”
With its large and versatile space, Main Stage Rehearsal Studios can be used for a variety of activities. Though primarily focussed on music rehearsal and concerts, the venue can also accommodate dance, video shoots, live performance of various arts, and community meetings or events.
Although the venue’s versatility and all-encompassing elements are positive for business and help make it more appealing to a wider array of people, Dobbin and Ng believe that professionalism and quality are the true keys to success and the foundation of their vision.
“There’s a lot of stigmas around rehearsal studios,” says Dobbin. “A lot of them are run down, dirty, they stink of weed, your feet stick to the floor. Here it’s a real different direction.”
But this professionalism goes far beyond basic upkeep and cleanliness. It’s al.so about creating an environment where people of all different ages, skill and experience levels, financial situations, and notoriety can be equipped for success, feel cared for, respected, and inspired, Dobbin and Ng believe they have created a welcoming culture that they are proud of.
“People feel like they’re a part of the building,” notes Dobbin. “It’s not just a box for them to come in and disrespect.”
“It’s a community,” Ng added. “We feel like we’re taking care of a lot of musicians in our house. It’s like a family.”
The most fulfilling element of ownership has been seeing how people who have become part of this family and community have responded to the business.
“We have people come and tell us how thankful they are we kept the space and how it’s changed their life. We have monthly tenants that have come up and just hugged Justin.”
As well, Ng says that “I find musicians very emotional. In the last two years, being forced to stay home, they probably became depressed. I’m happy we’ve provided a place and opportunity for them to fall in love with music again.”
“A place like this gives a kid a chance to get out of the streets and start doing something. Get off your phone or video games and pick up an instrument,” says Dobbin.
Ng added, “When you’re in a band, you have to work with other people. You learn that you’re not individual. You’re working toward a goal, and kids need to learn that.”
They plan to continue to offer events like free Thursday Night Open Mic’s—which begin at 8 pm—to give people somewhere to go and provide them a friendly atmosphere, and an opportunity for community and performance.
Additionally, as Main Stage Rehearsal Studios moves forward, Ng and Dobbin plan to begin hosting school events and field trips, offering camps, and expanding their constructive and professional outreach in the greater Hamilton area and beyond.
Truly an Awesome place to rehearse!
Justin and his crew have done an excellent job of creating a safe, secure and welcoming space that We (SINBURN) very much enjoy.
It couldn’t be better.
It’s nice to be around people that just “get it”
We were blown away when we first walked in.. We highly recommend Mainstage to everyone.
Dave, bass dude.