THE MUSIC MAN: Tony Seiler, owner of Greenfield Music Center, is leaving a mark on the local entertainment scene

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GREENFIELD — For Tony Seiler — a prolific drummer and DJ who owns the Greenfield Music Center — sharing the gift of music never gets old.

Whether it’s playing the drums, giving lessons at his Greenfield music shop, or booking the bands for the city’s biggest concert venues, Seiler is happiest when he’s putting music out into the world.

For the past few years the Greenfield native has booked the musicians who perform at the Riley Festival, and he’s now working with the Greenfield Parks Department to bring the same caliber of bands to the new Depot Park stage next year.

Next year will also mark a major milestone for his music center, at 1215 E. Main St., which turns 20 in September.

The freestanding shop is relatively small, but it generates a big love for music.

Seiler and a crew of 10 other instructors teach dozens of students how to play everything from the guitar to drums to the ukulele.

One of his favorite moments at the shop happened just last month, when a grandfather stopped in to present his teenage grandson with an electric guitar.

“The grandson was in a wheelchair and couldn’t move his legs, but he could move his arms and hands. He could play guitar. He’d been dreaming of this electric guitar, and his grandpa surprised him with it,” Seiler recalled.

“The kid’s reaction was so incredible, we were all tearing up. There wasn’t a dry eye in the store,” he said.

Seiler is a firm believer that a love of music is a love that lasts a lifetime.

“When you play sports, that tends to end after high school or college, but music is something that stays with you for the rest of your life,” he said.

Six-year-old Samara Fedor started taking drum lessons from Seiler around the first of the year, and she quickly warmed up to his laid-back, personable teaching style.

“As a teacher, he’s great,” said her mom, Stacey Fedor of Greenfield. “He’s really friendly to the kids, and makes them feel comfortable. When we first started there, he’d do magic tricks for my daughters and would give away a small little trinket at the end of their lessons.”

While Seiler said the time he spends in his music shop is “the best thing ever,” he’s also a big fan of the time he spends DJing at weddings and other events or playing drums with three different bands: Tight Rope, his main band; Nebo Ridge, the house band at Snapper’s in Greenfield; and Highway 44, “a total honky tonk dive bar band I play with maybe twice a month,” he said.

The variety feeds his musician’s soul, as it did back when he was a kid, when he learned to play drums with a band of adults.

“My very first paying gig was at the VFW in Greenfield,” recalled Seiler, who has lived in Greenfield all his life, except for a few years in his 20s, “when I was out chasing the rock star dream.”

While he eventually gave up on becoming a full-fledged rock star, Seiler has found contentment in the confines of his music shop.

It wasn’t until just over 10 years ago that he discovered — through a little ancestral digging — that both his grandfather and great-grandfather were also musicians who owned their own music shops.

“I had no idea until after my dad passed away,” he said.

Seiler likes to think that his grandfather and great-grandfather would be proud of the mark he’s made on the local music scene.

He started working with the Riley Festival organizers around 2009, and has booked an increasing caliber of musical events every year since. This year he started volunteering with the Greenfield Parks Department, helping to plan the musical lineup for the inaugural 2022 concert series at the new Depot Park, which is set to open in June.

Seiler is quick to share the praise when any big event goes well, but those he works with said Seiler deserves a lot of the credit.

“Tony brings concert, band and production expertise that has proved to be invaluable,” said Skye Mackenzie, assistant director for the Greenfield Parks Department.

For the new concert series at Depot Park, Seiler is working on booking tribute bands for Garth Brooks, AC/DC and Pink Floyd, as well as a popular regional band, Stella Luna.

He’s already booked most of the acts to perform at next year’s Riley Festival, including a Garth Brooks tribute band — No Fences — and the return of the Woomblies Rock Orchestra, which headlined at this year’s festival.

He’s also pursuing some nationally known headliners.

In the meantime, his little music shop on the east side of Greenfield is thriving, despite a challenging few months due to COVID, especially when non-essential businesses like his were shut down for nearly three months in the spring of 2020.

Seiler said it was “definitely scary” being closed for weeks at the start of last year, “because the funny thing is when you shut down, the bills keep coming in,” he said.

But his hometown of Greenfield has been there to support him every step of the way.

“I tell people this all the time that I love this town,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

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