For Dylan Kelehan, founder and co-owner of The Rock Shop in Nyack, New York, necessity is
truly the mother of invention. Before COVID-19, the musician’s main source of income was
touring as a bass-guitarist with his former Pink Floyd tribute band, The Machine. But when the
pandemic hit, touring came to a grinding halt—along with Kelehan’s cash flow. As a husband
and father, he worried how he would support his family.
Luckily, the resurfacing of an old business venture—starting an independent music store—came
to the forefront of Kelehan’s mind.
“All of a sudden and out of nowhere, I was just slammed, infected with the idea of making this
store,” Kelehan said. “Like a freight train, I ran right ahead and just pushed through all the
hurdles I had to in order to get there.”
One of these hurdles was the consideration of what would happen if touring eventually
resumed. Wanting to remain available for this possibility, Kelehan sought a business partner,
proposing an offer to his former bandmate Jeff Spindel for co-ownership of The Rock Shop.
Spindel agreed on the condition that his wife Caroline, former owner of Grub, an Asian-fusion
restaurant in West Nyack, would sign on as third co-owner. Kelehan agreed. The rest, as they
say, is history.
Since its original opening in December 2020 (the store moved down the block on Main Street to
a bigger space in February 2023), The Rock Shop has remained true to its mission to spread the
joys of music while continuing to evolve. The store, which sells, rents, and repairs instruments
and accessories, also places a large focus on private lessons. Approximately 170 students now
pass through the eight “rock god” themed practice rooms each week for individual music
lessons—guitar being the most popular—divided between 15 teachers.
Perhaps the accomplishment of the Rock Shop that Kelehan is most proud of is its bands. Over
the store’s almost-three year life span, he has put together nine of these music groups, mostly
comprised of children and teenagers who play within a similar skill level. Each band has at least
three members on three different instruments or vocals—one to provide rhythm, melody, and
harmony. The bands—including a group of seven-year-olds called The Tigers—rehearse every
week in the back room of the shop. A recital is planned for December 3rd at the Nyack Center for
the groups to show off what they’ve learned.
“The bands have to show up every week,” Kelehan said. “They have to practice on their own.
They have to do something very hard over a commitment that lasts for months. And then
there’s the reward of the show.”
Above all else, Kelehan’s goal for The Rock Shop is to ignite a universal passion for the joys of
“Being able to play a musical instrument is one of the most joyous things. Any time I go on a
vacation or anywhere, I’ve got that guitar or mandolin or bass with me. I just jam and it feels so
good. I’m no good at meditating, so that’s my way of doing it. It’s a great release. I just wish
every single person could find music in their lives some way because it’s just so valuable to me,
and I imagine that it would be valuable to everybody.”
The Rock Shop in Nyack, New York is open Monday–Friday 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and Saturday
– Sunday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.