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Wednesday, March 22, 2006 - Page updated at 12:08 PM

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Father's dream is music to son's ears

Times Snohomish County bureau

On a rainy Wednesday night, the six members of the Bill Mattocks Band arrived at Roy's Place to rehearse, arranging the room's microphones, drum set, instruments and amplifiers in a circle, the same footprint they use when performing.

Before Roy's Place, it was the usual story: rehearsing in living rooms, basements and even in a warehouse in Seattle's Sodo district, where dozens of heavy-metal bands rehearsing at once made it sound as if you were sitting near a roaring 747 engine.

But Roy's Place, with its classy maroon walls, wood-beam ceilings, padded carpet and — most important — good ventilation and acoustics, was a godsend for the group, which has been booking it Wednesday nights for about four months.

Hard to believe Roy's Place was once a Lynnwood athletic club.

But Billy Kennelly remembers. The athletic club was part of a 36,000-square-foot property that the president and CEO of Kennelly Keys Music purchased in 2002.

While the recital space has been a popular venue for music teachers and musicians of many different types of music, the next phase of Roy's Place figures to bring in more people.

Roy's Place


Where: Roy's Place is a recital and rehearsal building named after Roy Kennelly, the founder of Kennelly Keys Music, 4918 196th St. S.W., Lynnwood.

Bookings: To reserve Roy's Place or the band rooms, call 425-771-7020. It's advised to book a month in advance if possible. Fees are $50 per event for Roy's Place, with a $50 refundable deposit, and $25 an hour for a band room. Peak usage times for the band rooms will be 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Information: 425-771-7020 or www.kennellykeysmusic.com.

Next month, the transformation of the former athletic club's racquetball courts into six smaller sound-proof band-rehearsal rooms will be complete.

When finished, Roy's Place will boast 6,500 square feet of space dedicated to playing music.

"They've been very welcoming in opening their doors," said Jake Bergevin, director of bands at Edmonds-Woodway High School. Bergevin is also vice president of the Washington chapter of the International Association for Jazz Education, which has had big-band sight-reading sessions at Roy's Place.

"The reason we like it, there's built-in lights and sound, and they provide instruments — piano, drums, a stage with lights and a person to operate the lights and the sound," said Bergevin.

Bergevin recently held a student solo jazz night at Roy's Place, which he said gave the students an off-campus performance opportunity.

"It's kind of like a nightclub setting without the drawbacks of a nightclub," he said.

Edmonds-Woodway freshman Devon Yesberger has played piano at Roy's Place and also attended workshops there. "It's a good room for music," Yesberger said. "It's much better than a classroom because it feels like you're in a concert, but you're also learning."

Roy Kennelly's dream

Roy and Patty Kennelly opened their first music store in 1960 in North Seattle, and there are now eight Kennelly Keys Music stores in the Puget Sound area.

But Billy Kennelly said it was always a dream of his father, who died in 1994, and his team to create a music-education center.

That dream started to take shape in 2002, when Billy Kennelly purchased the property on 196th Street Southwest that used to house Olympic Sports, Shakey's Pizza and an athletic club. The Olympic Sports and Shakey's buildings were ones Kennelly remembered well as a kid.

It's no coincidence Roy's Place and the company's flagship store are in Lynnwood.

"We grew up right here [in Edmonds], our family is here, I coach Little League, and Lynnwood has been recognized as a retail center," said Kennelly.

The Olympic Sports building was renovated first, and Kennelly relocated an existing Lynnwood store there in 2003 to become Kennelly Keys' flagship location, housing a retail outlet, repair center, music-education center, distribution center and the main office.

It's impressive, but Kennelly said he saw the potential to ramp it up, put in a "wow" factor, and serve the music community in a different way.

Hence, the adjacent building known as Roy's Place, where the exterior is graced with a picture of Roy Kennelly playing the saxophone.

"A lot of the instructors needed a place to hold their recitals," his son said. "It's harder to hold them in schools and churches, both in cost and liability. We wanted to create a room to hold 150 guests, and that's how Roy's Place took off."

They didn't do serious engineering for the room, he said. "We just built to the beams and the contoured roof. Ultimately, it turned out to be acoustically correct."

And there was something magical happening in the large room, which can look like a club or a theater. People began booking it for workshops, music events, rehearsals, recitals and recordings. Band boosters, burned out from carwashes and other fundraisers, began putting on concerts, inviting guest artists to sit in with the groups.

"I've got a bunch of those club tables, and I'll sit them out and I'll put four or five chairs around each one and candles," Kennelly said. "And people come in and they love it because they don't feel like they're in this stuffy, have-to-sit-up-straight kind of thing. We've had multiple requests for that kind of setting."

Schools districts such as Mukilteo, Edmonds, Shoreline, Northshore and Lake Washington are using Roy's Place, as well as private groups such as the Edmonds Music Teachers Association.

Music instructors also host recitals there, with 75-80 people using the room.

The recital space rents for $50 per event; the smaller band rooms will be $25 an hour. Kennelly said his father always wanted music to be affordable. "We don't want an economic barrier to get in the way," Billy Kennelly said.

In fact, the room can be booked for free for school and youth-music-group fundraisers, and often registered artist-clinicians can perform with the kids for free.

Better than storage units

The band rehearsal rooms are currently being fitted with electrical power and ventilation, and acoustical foam panels are being attached to the walls.

The sound proofing can't be matched, Kennelly says, as the building has solid concrete walls with rubber matting on the floor.

It beats storage units, which rock bands have not-so-furtively used for years.

"It's a wonderful facility," said Mattocks, who has played blues harmonica for more than 40 years. He had searched for rehearsal space from Seattle to Snohomish County before finding Roy's Place online.

For his contemporary and classic blues and rock band, it's a chance to rehearse a cohesive, tight sound that might be described as urban blues, with a funk-flavored bass line that drives the melody forward on tunes such as "Shaky Ground" and "Unchain My Heart."

Beyond the amenities you don't get in a living room or a garage, Roy's Place has become an environment for creativity.

"It's the idea that we can actually spread out and work exactly like we would set up on stage in larger clubs and concert venues," said Mattocks.

Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or dwright@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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