Meet John "Johnny Leather" Albanese. He's one of our newer, highly knowledgeable sales professionals here at The Den. He's here, from bell to buzzer, maintaining our gorgeous sales floor, keeping up to date on all the latest models and tech, and educating customers on the gear here. His background is vast, from being a music major at William Paterson University, the Institute of Audio Research, to his years (38) managing the MI department of Robbie's Music in Wayne, NJ. He's been a professional musician since the age of 16, performing live and as a studio mix engineer, with real world touring experience to boot. He's also been a drum instructor for 40, count 'em, 40 years.
This week, it's all about our primary woodwind wizard, Joe Russo! He's been working tirelessly to get your flutes, clarinets, saxophones, etc up and running for over two years here, after many years doing repair work for Slam Hash music stores. He comes to us from the Berklee College of Music, the Boston Conservatory of Music, SUNY Plattsburgh, and the Allied Supply Repair School. We think he's been hiding from the mob. He has 50+ musical compositions under his belt of various genres, in, as he says "varying degrees of uselessness". That might jus be his goatee talking though. His hobbies include inventing new recipes for Baccala, and reading ancient Latin texts, poorly. He also starts to sound like Artie Lang when he gets really going on a subject. It's entertaining. He also keeps a small garden here on the back lawn of the store, growing many herbs, peppers, and tomatoes. Seriously, don't tell any mafia folk that he's here, we like him.
Today, we bring you someone on staff that people walking through the store almost never sees, Julie! She's part of the Rental Instrument and School Servicing departments we have in the warehouse here in Randolph. She's been here in one capacity or another for 6 years now, and is one of the folks cleaning, prepping and assigning your student's rental instruments. Her educational background is interesting with an Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice from Sussex County Community College, and her Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice with a focus in Homeland Security from Stockton University. She's currently plays the trumpet in the Jefferson Township Community Band. In her "off-time", she likes to play videogames, go on long nature hikes, and is a HUGE Harry Potter nut. She also collects a vast array of Pop Vinyl, She also loves to sing, but only in her car, where she can throw on a fake Freddie Mercury mustache and rock some Queen in privacy.
The ever-elusive Joy Scognamiglio! Tucked away, high up in the highest tower in the office for the last 8 years, she is our Office Administrator, and is a vital part of keeping this team moving. From accounts receivables, to working hard in the rental and customer service team, there is no point in the day that she's not zipping around, making sure everything can run as smooth as humanly possible. Chances are if you've called with a rental question, you've spoken to her. She comes to us having graduated "a long time ago" 💖 with a degree in Marketing. She had worked in furniture retail for some time, working with purchasing and advising the visual merchandising team. Her musical background is short, as she's still just learning to play guitar, as a lefty in a righty world. 🎅(one of the only emoji's I could find with a beard) She is amazed by and thankful for her beautiful family, and has gained appreciation for the value of being teachable, while desiring to learn and grow. Her interests and hobbies are vast, from loving to travel (obviously not happening right now 😔), to learning to speak Italian in hopes that she can go back again once the pandemic is over. She loves cooking and baking, especially for when her family comes together for their Sunday dinners.
This week we present the magician, Pete Tummillo! He's part of our School Servicing Team, as well as the resident brass tech/repairman who has been with us for 15 years! Seriously, there's magic in them hands. I have yet to see a brass instrument come in that he couldn't make work again. Even tubas that have been run over by trucks (seriously, that happened). He also services a vast number of school districts, dealing with sales, repairs, rentals & consultations. His education and work background brings a BA and MA in Music Education from Montclair State College, as well as his Supervisor's Certification. He taught as a music teacher for the Garfield School District for 7 years, and TWENTY-SIX years as the Music Teacher/Director for the Jefferson Township School District. No, we're not going to tell you how old he actually is. He's also played in a plethora of bands over the years, and are as follows: The 50th Armor Division Army National Guard Band "Polk" Horn Band "Timepiece" Wedding Band "New Sensation" Wedding Band Covenant Brass Quintet & Conductor/Director of the Jefferson Township Community Concert and Jazz Bands Our favorite bearded mini-Santa (yeah, he's THAT jolly, all the time) has some personal achievements that also bear mentioning. He received Teacher of the Year, twice at the Jefferson School District. He was the recipient of the Geraldine R. Dodge Grant to study Architecture and the correlation to Baroque Music. His hobbies reside almost entirely in family activities. He absolutely loves to vacation on cruise ships, and is an avid coin collector.
Today, we bring you Luis Fernandez, one of our newest additions to the team, and our reigning beard champ! Luis is one of our floor gear specialists, and has been with us for three months. He provides assistance and insight to our customers to ensure everyone gets exactly what they need. It warms my ticker to see another person that's as crazy about PRS guitars as I am. I also think that he's one of the most kind, warm and genuine people that has graced a sales floor in the industry. He has a BA in Psychology and Spanish from Rutgers University, and was an auditor for Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Ever the busy bee, he worked at Victor's House of Music for four years, and just about THIRTY years R&D Engineering of Medical Devices. I also just found out that he spend a number of years contracted to work for NASA, helping develop things that he can't talk about. Seriously. I tried to get more info out of him, but he wouldn't budge. Must be aliens. ???? He's played in a number of bands over the years, like Mass Confusion, Masterful Johnsons, Socket Wench, and some other band that I can't read his writing for proper spelling. Some personal achievements that I CAN list here is that he contributed to the research and development of (which I think are really cool given the wide medical uses of such things): Saphenous Vein Harvesting Tool Nickel Titanium Aneurysm Stent Catheter Delivery Systems His other hobbies and interests include model railroading, watchmaking, and long walks in his room. The views from the bay window are to die for this time of year. All-around a pretty cool guy. Come see him if you ever need help picking out your next piece of gear. You won't leave disappointed.
This week, we present our resident double-reed player, Marissa. In her near-year at The Music Den, she's gone from Gear Specialist to one of our valued Rental Associates, as well as our only one crazy enough to test bassoons. She spends her days here processing your rental contracts, answering your questions you may have along the way. From time to time though, you can still spot her with her sleeves rolled up, helping out the sales staff when they're in need of her expertise. She comes to us with a Bachelor's in Multidisciplinary Studies, with minors in Music Performance, Arts Administration, and History from West Virginia University. Locally in the various circles of musicians, she's the VP and principle bassoonist with The Franklin Band, Stone Soup Symphony, the Jefferson Community Band, and plays tenor saxophone with the Jefferson Community Jazz Band. She lists as her personal achievements : "I can play the intro to Stairway to Heaven on guitar, and I performed with the WVU Wind Symphony in their debut performance at Carnegie Hall." Her other hobbies and interests include knitting, hiking, kayaking, trying horrible beer, and collecting vinyl albums. We hired her knowing that she didn't have a beard, but we were told in her interview that her bassoon, Fox Mulder, will often sport a Van Dyke for the more formal gigs she plays. We found this to be acceptable.
This week, we bring you the reigning beard champion of the store, Mike Malinowski. He's currently the head of our Lesson Department, coming from 15 years here at The Den. He started as a teacher himself, and had spent the last few years as a sales associate before taking on the mantle of the lessons. While he still does lessons himself, he works tirelessly to schedule and coordinate with all the other teachers we have here to match a student up with the perfect teacher to maximize the learning experience. He comes as a graduate of the William Paterson University Music Department, and serves as a faculty member at the Sparta Summer Arts Workshop. You can spot him plying his craft as a ridiculous bassist and guitarist on a few websites/social sites here: www.instagram.com/addicted2strings www.diamondeyejack.com www.lelicamusic.com His hobbies outside of here are going to concerts, camping, and long walks on the beach..
This week, we bring you Tommy Scognamiglio, head of our Purchasing Department! It's his job to make sure the store is stocked with the latest and greatest gear out there for your enjoyment. He's been here for... well, he's 28... so 28 years. Yep. Literally born into the business, as the son of one of the owners here. Growing up surrounded by music, it makes total sense that's he's such a monster of a musician. His education consists of a degree in Classical Guitar Performance from Montclair State University, and one in Sound Engineering/Classical Guitar from William Paterson University. Right now, he's playing in an awesome Morristown based R&B/Funk cover band "Loud Love" @loudlovemusic on IG. Aside from playing guitar, one of his great loves is grilling. He also really likes watching Marble Racing. Seriously, if you haven't looked it up before, search it on YouTube. It's quite addicting. His facial hair changes on the regular, and is capable of growing a fantastic beard.
Meet the face behind your online interactions, AJ. He's our online sales rep and customer service specialist. Whether you're chatting online through our website, Reverb shop, Facebook or Instagram, this is the guy working the keyboard on this end. If you've got questions, AJ has answers. Chances are that if you've shopped here at the store in the last few years, you've met him. He comes to The Den (here for 6.5 years) with 20 years in the music retail business, from management to operations to product rep to sales, he's seen all aspects of the biz. He's a nut for PRS guitars, but is a wealth of knowledge across the board, to better serve you. His music background is heavy in guitar and vocal work, from cover bands to touring experience. He also currently does voice-overs in his free time, and has even featured in the cinematic trailer for an upcoming MMO computer game! His hobbies outside of here consist of baking and medieval combat sports. He's also very proud of his beard. 😆
Today we present Dave Rutan, our resident wood-smith! He squirrels himself away in the back of the workshop, maintaining the huge amount of the Music Den's orchestral rental stock, as well as customer repairs, including re-hairing bows (we use to actually send bows out before he joined the team). He's been gracing us with his presence for at least 3 and a half years now, after 13 years as a job printer and 17 years as a stay at home dad. At home, he likes to dabble on his fiddle. And, while he admits that he doesn't play it well, he still enjoys it. He doesn't see himself coming out of the basement with it anytime soon... One thing that even I didn't know until this, was that he actually published a history book, titled "Remember the Sussex Branch of the Lakawanna Railroad". It's in hardcover, I've seen it. That's available on Lulu.com for those interested. His other hobbies include building folk instruments from scratch, like Cajons, Mountain Dulcimers, Box Cellos, Silent Fiddles, and maintaining that Richard Dreyfuss look-a-like beard, which is on point. He also likes to write science fiction, he's an avid conlanger (a creator of fictional languages) but doesn't think of himself as a linguist. He does, however, speak a second language, which is Esperanto (not spanish). And all around interesting cat, and a magician with troubled instruments made of wood. A true wood-smith.
This time, we bring forth Mike Spoer, teacher and Lead Educational Resources Coordinator! He's been here for at least 11 years in one capacity or another, and oversees the daily operations of our School Servicing Department, Repairs, Lessons and administrates our Genesis Music Program. On top of that, he also visits a good amount of the schools we service. He also occasionally sleeps. He studied Music Education at the Undergrad & Graduate levels at Westminster Choir College at Princeton. He was a substitute teacher full-time for 5 years for Middle Schools. Additionally, he took courses in Social Media Marketing from Northwestern University. Locally, he's the bass player for The Harrisons , and a board member for the Sussex County Oritorio Society. He's also in pre-production on an album of original songs. He's a registered Singer/Songwriter w/BMI and a published Choral Editor for GIA. He also helps run an ecumenical retreat program for adults. Seriously, he might sleep. Or, his beard fuels him. His hobbies consist of hiking, fishing, and reading/learning about anything he possibly can. He enjoys gardening, although I think that it's more that he enjoys going to war with the resident groundhog. He also serves as the secretary for The Single Malt Society, which if you couldn't guess, is a whiskey/scotch club. He loves the sweet, sweet smell of bacon in the morning, and likes to play an Oncologist on TV. I don't think he actually sleeps.