Vishnu Music lives on
Downtown music store remains as daughter of founder takes the helm
“For a long time I referred to this as ‘Dad’s store.’ Even though it’s my store, it’s still ‘Dad’s store,’ said DeLorenzo.
Ottalagano, a 1968 graduate of Gloversville High School, opened Vishnu Varieties in 1987 in Johnstown. Vishnu Varieties quickly evolved into Vishnu Music, and after a couple moves, the music store made it’s way to downtown Gloversville in 1992 where at has remained ever since.
Vishnu Music, a veritable haven for all things music, is stocked full of electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, effects pedals, music books, and a seemingly endless supply of parts and accessories. Instrument service and repairs are still offered as well as guitar lessons by local musician Aaron Mittler.
“We have a lot of new old stock and a lot of unique things that you can’t really find at other places, which gives this place a little extra special element,” DeLorenzo said. “And also, we’re just friendly. My dad was friendly. I’m friendly so I feel like people feel comfortable here.”
On the top shelf of the store there even sits a fully restored vintage Gibson guitar, which Vincent himself restored.
“It’s one of the last guitars my father restored before he passed away,” said DeLorenzo. “It’s restored with all original parts. That was really [my father’s] forte. He was great at restoration. So that’s a really special piece over there.”
DeLorenzo took over Vishnu Music shortly after her father’s death in 2016. Coming from a long line of musicians, running the music store has quickly become second-nature for DeLorenzo. Her grandfather, Greg Ottalagano, was a string musician, playing mandolin, banjo, and guitar. And of course her father Vincent could “play anything stringed.”
Ottalagano passed his love of music down to his children, teaching each of his daughters — Nicole DeLorenzo, Amanda Boyer and Colleen McGarry — how to play the guitar.
“When I was in high school, my dad bought me my first guitar and my first amp,” DeLorenzo said. “He taught me the basic chords and a little ‘Stairway to Heaven’ because, you know, you’ve got to.”
DeLorenzo worked in Vishnu Music under her father for “about 10 years.” In that time, she learned guitar maintenance and set-ups from her father, who she described as a master:
“He did a lot of research and read a lot of books and learned how to do a lot of things. Eventually he mastered every aspect and could do it all. He was a certified repair person for Fender.”
DeLorenzo even met her husband, Ronald Delorenzo, through Vishnu Music, stating, “He was just a kid coming into the store that I became friends with. I guess the store has impacted me so much that that’s where I found my husband.”
She eventually left the store to become a preschool teacher. But when her father was diagnosed early in 2016, she stepped back into the shop to help her father, who kept his store open until the very end.
“He still came to work right up until basically we had to force him to stay home,” DeLorenzo said. “Even sick, he would come in here and just lay on the floor until someone came in and then he’d get up and go and help them. The store meant a lot to him.”
After her father passed away, DeLorenzo quickly stepped in as store owner, saying that it makes her feel close to her father. In that time, she is slowly melding the store into her own.
“I have developed new customers since my dad passed away and I still have a lot of his old customers. That’s also nice. A lot of people remember me — especially the older generation. And now the younger generation, they are kind of my customers.”
Although DeLorenzo does says there doesn’t seem to be as many younger musicians which she attributes to the rise of computers and video games, she says that the kids who are interested are very passionate and really want to play.
So with that, Vishnu Music lives on, bringing new opportunities for musicians young and old to discover or hone their abilities.
“We’ve had a life full of music,” DeLorenzo said. “Music is a great stress reliever and it brings a lot of joy to people. You can lose yourself for hours learning how to play something. It really is great for your mind.”