Alder Creek Music Store Closing

Steve Wingrove of Alder Creek Music presents a photographic portrait of master saxophonist Sigurd Raschèr (1907-2001) along with what was his largest and perhaps most interesting commission of all time – a rare 8ft contrabass saxophone from above. Alder Creek is scheduled to close on July 29. (Photo by Justin JM Higner)

Fri, May 14, 2021 11:00 a.m.

By Justin J. M. Higner

and Michael De Pietro

Tribune Editor

Behind every band and performer there have been 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 instrument repair and sales business, Wingrove is retiring. The store will offer special sales and discounts until it closes on July 29.

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

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

Over the course of his career, Wingrove, who specializes in brass and woodwinds, has served everyone from beginners to professionals with their band instrument repair needs. Over the years he became a lone operator maintaining the instruments for many school districts in Western New York.

While Wingrove leaves behind a career of which he is incredibly proud, 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 area schools and explained that there is a nationwide shortage of qualified repair technicians. of musical instruments.

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

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

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

In 1983, having already gained 15 years of band instrument repair experience, Wingrove opened and operated his first repair shop, Steve Wingrove Band Instrument Repair, out of the basement of his home. In 1988, he became a professional member of the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT).

Eventually it had to expand to a new location. Wingrove purchased the old fire station where Alder Creek resides and in 1990 officially opened.

Wingrove’s work has enabled some truly unique experiences. It shows a photo of master saxophonist Sigurd Raschèr (1907-2001) with what was his largest and perhaps most interesting commission of all time – a rare 8-foot-tall old-style contrabass saxophone.

“At the time, they didn’t make those (mostly) big wind key caps anymore, so I had to make them here,” he said. The sax is one of only four remaining of this type that is actually still playable. He is now in residence at the University of Fredonia.

His career also made for endearing connections with people, some of whom turned out to be some of the best musicians in the region. One name that stands out is Dick Griffo – a prominent jazz musician from Tonawanda who has played with legends such as Tommy Dorsey and Woody Herman – who started giving lessons at Alder Creek in 1990.

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

Griffo led the band upstairs at 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 were then in bands. And I was happy to be part of it. »

Wingrove said it is these types of relationships and interactions with people, especially musicians, that she will miss the most.

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

“The circle of musicians, there is canvas. 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 could get involved.

Alice P. Darby