Who: Bill Cole.
Where: Phila Street.
How long have you had a woodwind shop?
Forty years. I started out in Watervliet and about 15 years I moved up to Saratoga Springs.
How did you get into the business?
A teacher encouraged me to go to school for music. I was drawn to one program specifically that taught band instrument repair. Music instrument technology trained you how to fix instruments: woodwinds, brass and strings. When I got out I started my own shop, temporarily. Forty years later, here I am.
It's a niche market, isn’t it?
Even within my field I have a niche. Most music stores go after the big school accounts, and although I’m very happy to work on school instruments, I’m really targeting the pro horns. So, I get customers from across the country. It’s a special market and one I enjoy.
Have you ever had a brush with fame?
Over and over again. I have a book, about 300 pages, I hope to write it someday of all the things that have happened over 40 years. You’re standing right here next to Garth Hudson’s saxophone; he’s a friend of mine and we’ve had a lot of correspondence with Garth and The Band. Dave Matthews Band – we work on Jeff Coffin’s instrument when he comes to town. Chicago. Jethro Tull. Those are the big guys, but the real honor is working for the professional musician who’s playing (locally at jazz clubs) – because you know their passion for playing is so important. To be a part of that is great.
Do you play?
I don’t play professionally. Both my son and I play when we fix the instruments, but our job is to fix them; their job is to play them.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
An engineer or an architect. To this day I look at the buildings that are going up and I just marvel at them. I’ve always had a passion for that.
What are some of the best things Saratoga Springs has to offer?
When I have customers who come into town for the first time and looking for some direction about what to do, I tell them go to SPAC, have a picnic, and on the way back go to Congress Park and visit the museum; they’re going to get some nature, they’re going to get some history and then all you have to do is walk down the street and see the beautiful buildings that have been built, the beautiful buildings that have been restored. Saratoga just has something for everybody.
Who would portray you in a movie about your life?
I would say Johnny Depp, ha. He would have to shave his head and gain some weight – but I think he could nail it. Plus, he’s one of my favorite actors.