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Domino Sugar Site's Pile Driver Hits Sour Note For Longtime Music Producer

By Gwynne Hogan | August 29, 2017 8:56pm
 Producer and musician Roger Greenawalt, in front of his 17-year-old music studio on Kent Avenue, has worked with the likes of Iggy Pop and No Doubt over the course of his three-decade career.
Producer and musician Roger Greenawalt, in front of his 17-year-old music studio on Kent Avenue, has worked with the likes of Iggy Pop and No Doubt over the course of his three-decade career.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

WILLIAMSBURG — A Brooklyn music producer says that a pile driver's relentless hammering at the waterfront Domino Sugar Factory construction site is making it impossible for him to do his job.

Roger Greenawalt, 55, the owner of Shabby Road Studio — who has worked with A-list musicians like Iggy Pop, Rufus Wainwright and No Doubt over his three-decade career — said the hammering started at the Two Trees waterfront development about a month ago. The racket has rendered his Kent Street studio useless, despite its soundproof walls.

"There is a mid-range hammering, the sound of metal on metal," said Greenawalt, a neighborhood eccentric known for carrying a ukulele with him at all times.

Then there's another sound that comes from the pile driver and travels "through the floors and ceiling," he said. 


Pile driving at domino sugar site is rendering musician Roger Greenawalt's studio unusable, he says.

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"[It's] a low frequency rumble... If you hear cars go by with a lot of bass. It's that kind of bass."

Over the years he's had a hand in songs like No Doubt's hit "Don't Speak," which he engineered and played guitar on, and Rufus Wainwright's "Want To," laying down ukulele and banjo tracks, according to his biography. Greenawalt also recorded the theme song for the ABC TV show "Pretty Little Liars," by the The Pierces at his studio, which he has operated for 17 years.

The studio has lost $200 for every hour marred by the noise, and he says Two Trees has been deaf to his demand for compensation.

He was told by their office to contact their development manager Hale Evertes, who hasn't gotten back to him back. He emailed another Two Trees representative who responded Tuesday afternoon, an hour after a DNAinfo inquiry about the pile driving, saying they would set up vibration monitors.

Two Trees spokeswoman Kate Treen wouldn't say if the development company would compensate Greenawalt but said that the most disruptive part of construction work would be done by the end of the year.

“The work underway at the Domino site will deliver a 6-acre public waterfront park and 700 units of affordable housing, and is being performed as permitted and tightly monitored to be well within limits for this work," she said. "We are of course sensitive to any disruption the work may cause and respond to all inquiries in a timely manner.”

Meanwhile, Greenawalt says he never knows when the pile driving will begin, making scheduling a nightmare.

"Most people's business doesn't have to deal with sound and silence," he said.

On a recent afternoon, Adina Verson, an up and coming singer and actress who made her Broadway debut in the play Indecent this year, came over to write a song and they recorded their a track to the rhythm of the pile driving.

Here's the track they recorded: 

But that isn't sustainable, he said. 

"I'm interested in other rhythms other than quarter notes at 58 beats per minute," he said.

"I am just so tired and frustrated," he said, adding he also lives in the studio and the pile driving is effecting his sleep.

Greenawalt said that paying him for his lost time would show that the developer respects the creative people that made Williamsburg what is is today, he said.

"I saw how Two Trees developed DUMBO themselves and created a real community there," he said. "They didn't do that in this neighborhood. It was people like me and my friends that made bankers and lawyers want to live here."

"It was people like me who made Mast Chocolate and the artisanal hot sauce shop... and the record shops and the music venues and the nightlife," he said. "This was all made by cultural creatives [who are] being forced out or driven insane in my case."