The Man Behind the Music

Tyler Beatrice (above) offers a yearly $50 “subscription” to his library of instruments where customers can rent instruments for a week at a time.

Tyler Beatrice is a native from Saugerties turned New Paltzian. He runs his passion project from the inside of Cafeteria coffee shop on Main Street.

The many anonymous, quiet conversations of a café will accumulate to form a noisy environment of cup clanking and chatting. These sounds fill the air in the bohemian territory of popular New Paltz coffee shop, Cafeteria on Main Street. 

In contrast to its usual mellow vibe, Cafeteria is bustling with chatty tourists, students rigorously typing on laptops and chilled out latte-sippers. By the looks of him, Tyler Beatrice is a scruffy, good looking 20-something-year-old New Paltzian, talking to some people sitting on rustic, old couches. A person who is more than what meets the eye, Tyler contributes a special part to the New Paltz culture with a warm, artful soul.  

Root Note Music Shop is Tyler’s small, independently owned store located at the front of Cafeteria. In partnership with the café, the shop is afforded a charming and appealing environment of baristas, musicians and writers. The modest, indoor store front used to be the Muddy Cup, a coffee bar selling drinks and food before moving to the back area of the café. Though mostly guitar-centric, Tyler’s unique inventory offers instruments from the road less traveled: mandolins, sitars, harps, kazoos, small drums and various orchestral apparatuses. 

“It’s a rainy Saturday, I’m surprised it’s so busy today,” Tyler says sitting on a cozy chair, biting into a blueberry muffin and perking up every now and then to see if someone is approaching his counter. Tyler is familiar with his customers, people he has never seen before are greeted as friends and encouraged to check out his store.

Tyler is a Hudson Valley native. He grew up in Saugerties on his family’s farm with his father, mother and younger sister; the business was lush with veggies and flowers. 

“It’s funny because now I am really appreciative of the lifestyle of people who have farms and are passionate about sustainable agriculture,” Tyler said. “But when I was a kid I wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about it.” 

Tyler reflects on a happy and wonderfully average upstate childhood, and shared his current outdoorsy hobbies of rock climbing and hiking.

“I’ve really always had an ear for music,” Tyler said. “My first instrument being the recorder.” 

Through proud nostalgia, he explains the success of the first song he’s written: a third grade triumph of a five-note recorder performed symphony. His music teacher loved it, and ended up having his entire class learn the song for practice. Later in elementary school, he graduated to more complex wind instruments, such as the clarinet. After his mother gifted him a $100 guitar at age 16, Tyler eventually found his main musical passion.

Though self-taught, Tyler found influential friends who played guitar when he began attending SUNY New Paltz in 2006. Tyler described his love for guitar as an admiration for the raw sound the instrument produces.

“Music theory always seemed a little bit too rigid for my liking,” Tyler explained. “I like to rely on my ear rather than thinking about the theory.” 

 Never taking any music classes at school but passion for the art brimming, Tyler found himself in an anthropology major that never saw a degree. In 2010, his unfinished senior year at the college, Tyler began selling guitars and other diverse instruments in the back room of the grassroots tech café SlashRoot. This forgotten place stood where B-Side Grill on Main Street occupies today. Since then, the store has moved location twice before settling into its current residence at Cafeteria. 

“This store has gone through quite an evolution, I’m always trying to better utilize this space,” he said. “The opportunity for this business presented itself and I just ran with it.”

Resurrection of battered instruments is another specialty of Tyler’s. He restrings and performs set-ups on guitars, as well as trying his hand at more peculiar instruments. In addition to this, Tyler will buy used guitars and fix them up for resale. 

“I ask them what their price is, and then I’ll compare the model they give me to what it is priced as online,” Tyler explained. “I’ve been doing this for a while—I can pretty much tell what an instrument is worth by handling it for a bit.” 

Tyler went on to say that he wishes to finish out his anthropology degree. He feels that his proximity to the college allows him to feel that possibility is open whenever he feels ready. 

“The college will always be there,” Tyler shrugged. “I love New Paltz, I love the strange and unusual people.”