Alder Creek Music Store Closes

Steve Wingrove from Alder Creek Music presents a photographic portrait of master saxophonist Sigurd Raschèr (1907-2001) along with his most important and perhaps most interesting commission of all time – a rare 8-foot-tall double bass saxophone. Alder Creek will close on July 29. (Photo by Justin JM Higner)

Fri May 14, 2021 11:00 AM

By Justin JM Higner

and Michael DePietro

Editor of the forum

Behind every band and performer were specialists like Steve Wingrove of Alder Creek Music (2880 Niagara Falls Blvd.) helping to make the instruments last at least as long as their owners.

Today, after 52 years in the field of instrument repair and sales, Wingrove is retiring. The store will have special sales and discounts until it closes on July 29.

“My hands told me it was time to take a break from the repair,” Wingrove said. “You know I was one of those lucky people who love what he does. But I want to enjoy life. I know a lot of repair technicians over the years who are no longer with us who have worked until the end and I won’t let that happen.

He says he looks forward to having more time for woodworking and taking more trips with his wife, especially to places in the west he visited in his youth such as Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.

During his career Wingrove, specializing in brass and woodwinds, has served everyone from beginners to professionals for their musical instrument repair needs. Over the years he has grown into a solo instrument operator serving many school districts in western New York State.

While Wingrove leaves behind a career he is incredibly proud of, it is for this reason that he said he felt somewhat guilty about retiring. He has so far been unable to find a buyer for the store with the experience to continue supplying schools in the area and explained that there was a nationwide shortage of trained musical instrument repair technicians. .

“The large school districts of LA and Chicago attract a lot of repair school graduates,” Wingrove said. “But I hope to find someone to replace me; someone who has some repair experience to move in and take over my workshop.

Wingrove’s experience began at a young age. He worked in local music stores, including his father’s music store, Payne Avenue, where the group principal of Payne Junior High School also taught classes.

“He couldn’t bring in repair technicians for the school, so he did a lot of the repairs himself. I had time to kill and after I finished my own work I started dabbling, ”Wingrove said. “He showed me how to put on clarinet tenon plugs and pads and stuff like that. Then I got myself a repair manual and started doing other things. Next thing you know, I’ve had all kinds of people bring things to me.

In 1983, having already accumulated 15 years of experience in the repair of musical instruments, Wingrove opened and operated its first repair shop, Steve Wingrove Band Instrument Repair, in his basement. In 1988 he became a professional member of the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT).

Eventually, he needed to expand to a new location. Wingrove purchased the old fire hall in which Alder Creek resides, and in 1990 it officially opened.

Wingrove’s work has resulted in some truly unique experiences. It shows a photo of master saxophonist Sigurd Raschèr (1907-2001) along with his most important and perhaps the most interesting commission of all time – a rare and old-style contrabass saxophone 8 feet tall.

“Back then they weren’t making these (mostly) big windshield caps anymore, so I had to make them here,” he said. The sax is one of only four of its kind that is still playable. He is now in residence at the University of Fredonia.

His career also allowed him to form endearing bonds with people, some of whom happened to be the best musicians in the region. One name that stands out is Dick Griffo – a prominent jazz musician from Tonawanda who has performed with legends such as Tommy Dorsey and Woody Herman – who began teaching at Alder Creek in 1990.

“Shortly after starting here, he had the idea of ​​starting a community group (The Dick Griffo Jazz Workshop). I provided the desks, the chairs and the room; he provided all the talent, ”Wingrove said with a laugh. “He wrote charts that were easy for kids to play, but left room for more advanced players to take solos. He was just a real, real talent, and we spent a lot of years together.

Griffo led the group upstairs in Alder Creek until his death in 2012.

“He was like a brother to me,” Wingrove said. “He’s been such a big contributor to music in this area. Many of his students have become groups. And I was happy to be a part of it. “

Wingrove said it’s these types of connections and interactions with people, especially musicians, that he will ultimately miss the most.

” I’m a sociable person. I could chat with people all day, but I wouldn’t do anything, ”Wingrove said with a laugh. “I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of professional musicians that I would never have talked to otherwise and it’s really fun. So many great musicians, from LA players to band directors and the like. It was awesome. … “

“The circle of musicians is difficult. It touches and connects so many people. And I’m really happy that I was able to help keep the instruments in the hands of the kids over the years so they can get involved.

Alice P. Darby