There’s a magical place in Northwood, OH. One night in mid-December of last year, I was lucky enough to find it.
The first night I visited Sixtyten, local bands Tree No Leaves and Heavy Color played live to celebrate the unveiling of a mural done by local artists Matt Taylor and Sarah Thomas on the recording studio’s performance space wall. Taylor opened for the two bands with an acoustic set. A large crowd was transfixed as the musicians played in front of the new vibrant artwork. It was an incredible night.
I attended another show at the studio this January. Cleveland band Dead Leaves and a new local band, Secret Spaces, played a fantastic show. I realized after attending both of these shows that something special was happening here.
Managed by Michael Pierce, Sixtyten officially began in the fall of 2008, thanks to a gift from a central figure in his family, his grandfather (on his maternal side), Fred Weiland.
“My grandpa was the one who initiated the building of the recording studio. My grandpa’s always been into music. He wanted to play music but he had to work on the farm. The recording gear is mine, but the structure (itself) was his idea,” Pierce explained.
Initially, Pierce hadn’t planned on running a recording studio. Though he had recording experience as a teenager in a band, and had seriously studied at the Recording Workshop (a two month program in Chillicothe, OH), he later went off to Ohio State to study philosophy.
“This building was built while I was studying in undergrad. I remember when it was pretty close to being finished. I talked to professors, I talked to other students, and they asked, ‘So, have you applied to grad school? What are your plans?’ ‘Well, I am going to move back to Toledo to open a recording studio.’ ‘Oh well, good luck,’ they said,” Pierce laughed.
“Out of all the decisions I could have made, I think what I actually wound up doing, coming back to Northwood, Ohio to run a studio, made the most sense. I just thought, ‘I’ll give this a shot and see what happens.’ ”
What happened next developed and changed organically over the next seven years.
“My mentality about what Sixtyten is has changed dramatically from 2008 ’til now. Back in 2008, I had more of an old school mindset…I thought, ‘I am going to set up a website, record some music, price recording time, and pass out some cards or something,” he explained.
More recently, Pierce stated, “Every studio started doing video projects.” Sixtyten wisely and skillfully followed suit—their video for The Roswell Kids was featured on fender.com.
Pierce looked for talented and knowledgable people to be involved. “It’s more of a collaborative effort now. I thought if I assembled a really cool team of people and everybody does their part, we can all work together to make something great,” he said.
He's excited about doing more live shows and video projects, recording more music, and seeing Sixtyten grow. “I like where things are right now. I like where everything’s headed. It just feels like all the right people [are involved]…people in the community who have a shared interest in wanting to hear good music and wanting to be a part of something. That’s the most valuable thing for me," he said.
He added, “Nobody has ever come out here and not had a good time.”
I can vouch for that.
Upcoming Shows at Sixtyten
February 20 – Chris Kerekes // Dean Tartaglia, Split EP release show
February 28 – Flamtronic and Flat Earth Agenda
For more info go to Sixtyten Studio here.