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A Scruffy Guitar Store Survives the Chelsea Resort’s Stylish Makeover

Because the couple, giddy from their contact excessive with a crustier New York, ready to depart, Mr. Courtenay scribbled his quantity on a card and handed it to them.

“In the event you get misplaced, or have any issues taking the subway,” he mentioned, “name us.”

If Chelsea Guitars has accrued cultural significance as an unkempt holdout within the newly pristine lodge, then Mr. Courtenay is its resident bard, desirous to go on the constructing’s mythology to anybody who enters his retailer, whether or not or not they purchase a $6,000 1964 Epiphone Riviera or the opposite worship-worthy uncommon guitars on the partitions. In the event you get him going, he’ll inform tales about what he says he has seen working the store for greater than three many years.

Joan Baez as soon as stopped by and gave him her Chinese language takeout leftovers for lunch, he mentioned. When the band Oasis was on the town, Noel Gallagher got here in and requested to see a uncommon Gibson acoustic saved away at the back of the store. Mr. Courtenay was in a grumpy temper that day, so he advised Mr. Gallagher to go fetch him a cup of espresso whereas he retrieved it.

Throughout Patti Smith’s transient residence within the lodge within the mid-Nineteen Nineties, her teenage son, Jackson, used to hang around within the store taking part in Inexperienced Day riffs. And there was the time Billy Gibbons of ZZ High dropped in earlier than heading to El Quijote, the place a confrontation ensued when the restaurant requested him to take off his signature tasseled cap.

“They advised him, ‘You’ve received to take off the hat,’” Mr. Courtenay recalled. “Billy mentioned, ‘I don’t take this hat off once I’m sleeping.’”

There was additionally the guitar busker named Vlad, who seemingly knew only some chords and sang about his woes in a thick Japanese European accent at a close-by subway station, turning into referred to as the Polish Bluesman of Chelsea. There was additionally the mysterious girl who lived within the lodge, and who was rumored to come back from wealth, whom Mr. Courtenay noticed for years as she hailed invisible cabs outdoors the constructing. And there was the store’s resident cat, a Russian blue named Boris.

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