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Retired Columbine staff member makes magic at Imagine Sound Studio

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By Deborah Swearingen

At first glance, you probably wouldn’t know it. But in an unsuspecting building behind his South Jeffco home, Tony Antonio is making magic.

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When Antonio, a lifelong musician, retired from his job as a campus supervisor and football coach at Columbine High School, it didn’t take him long to decide his next move. He built a recording studio from the ground up and set out to become an affordable and approachable audio engineer.

“Being a musician, I know what musicians want when they go into a recording studio,” Antonio said. “ … I’m giving musicians the opportunity to come in at a very affordable price (with) state-of-the-art equipment that most of the big studios have.”

A wooden sign reading “Imagine Sound Studio” sits above the front door. Some of the hand-carved letters are missing a piece, but the sign serves as a tribute to the former Columbine student that helped Antonio create a name for his studio and made the plaque in wood-shopping class.

Antonio has been a fan of The Beatles since he was 11 and first saw Ringo Starr play the drums. He’s inspired by their musicality and the way in which The Beatles changed the recording industry.

“I’ve always been in tune with that, so the ‘imagine’ part of it was just perfect,” Antonio said. “It all fit in place.”

Inside, letters and autographed photos from contented musicians welcome those entering the studio; photographs of some of the greats like John Lennon and Bob Marley adorn the walls; and stunning Victorian rugs hang to help deflect unwanted sound.

At Imagine, Antonio allows people to record just about anything — from country, jazz or rap to podcasts or a special message for a loved one. He also works a freelance drummer and has arranged drum tracks for bands across the world.

However, when Antonio’s sitting in front of his equipment with a talented musician on the other side of the glass, he’s in his element.

“I get chills,” he said. “ … You know, I don’t think (the musicians) realize how talented they are.”

Bobby Clark, a member of a local horn band called BlueStoneMojo, found Imagine Sound Studio online and decided Antonio’s prices would work well for his band. But once BlueStoneMojo actually got into the studio, Clark soon learned the advantages of recording with someone who can read and play music.

“Once we got started working with him, he was just so easy to work with,” Clark said. “Being a musician himself, that makes a huge difference in terms of working all these things through.”

For example, when the band’s drummer left, Antonio jumped in to record drums for BlueStoneMojo. He has since performed with the band on several occasions.

“At one level, he’s a friend. At another level, he’s a drummer we can call on when we need someone for shows,” Clark said. “And I’m really happy with the way the recording turned out.”

Antonio is living the dream, and he’s doing it all from the backyard of his home.

“If you’re making people happy, that’s really the key to the whole music thing. It’s just a feeling you get when you play it,” he said.

Note: Antonio is currently running a special, in which he said he plans to offer reduced rates to those that mention reading the article.