Tim Barcone started his music supply business in the garage of his Stone Ridge house in 1970. In 1995, he moved to Broadway, the last 10 years located at a 4,500-square-foot single-story brick building just beyond the rail overpass. With its handsome façade, accented with a decorative molding and old-style brackets, the building is a visual treat, perking up an otherwise glum stretch of Broadway.
The bulk of Barcone Music’s business, which has six full-time employees, is servicing school music programs in seven counties—supplying rentals and selling instruments to school bands, as well as doing servicing and repair work (during the summer, his staff is busy fixing 4,000 musical instruments). Barcone also has a sideline selling guitars, following the purchase of Allegra Music several years ago, with a room in the back of his establishment now stocked with an enticing array of used and new instruments. Another room is filled with violins. Drum sets, used violas, strings accessories, microphones, and other musical paraphernalia as well as a vast array of instructional booklets are stocked in the main store. Barcone also rents out rooms to highly qualified guitarists, vocalists, and other professional musicians for private and group lessons.
Music has been central to the Barcone family at least as far back as Tim’s great-grandfather, who performed as a traveling musician in his native Italy. His sons, Tim’s grandfather and great-uncle, played in bands after immigrating to New York City in the 1920s—typically, Tim’s grandfather would travel to a new town and at the request of the mayor compose a special song for the place. After getting his teacher’s certificate, his grandfather was instrumental in introducing music programs into the public schools, an initiative that found its way up to the Hudson Valley thanks to the family’s summer house in in Greene County. After Tim’s dad got out of the Navy, at the end of World War II, he settled on Wittenberg Road and started a music program at the Onteora School District, using 25 instruments given to him by his father. The business grew to include Rondout Valley and other regional school districts.
Tim, who since the age of 12 had been “working on the bench,” graduated from Onteora High School in a fortuitous year, musically speaking—1969. He supplied and repaired instruments to many of the musicians hanging out in Woodstock at the time, some participants in the famous festival and a few later becoming famous. Wanting to go into business for himself, he purchased a music business in Sullivan County that serviced the schools there and was grateful that his father, who was still in business, graciously co-signed his business loan. At one time, there were four Barcone music businesses—one in Long Island and another in New York City, besides the two in the Hudson Valley. Today, there’s just the business owned by Tim; its vast geographical reach encompasses his father’s former turf.
With the support of the previous mayor and credits from the Empire Zone, the business-assistance program formerly operated and funded by the state, Barcone, who was operating in another store down Broadway but needed more room, purchased his current building, which was three dilapidated storefronts, in 2000. (Barcone considered relocating to Town of Ulster, but he said the real estate was too expensive; plus, he liked Broadway’s nice enclave of small, friendly businesses.) He did a complete overhaul, which included rebuilding the façade a foot or two back from the sidewalk and hiring Kingston architect Scott Dutton to do the design. The decorative details Dutton added to the brick front successfully integrate it with Kingston’s still numerous 19th-century mercantile storefronts.
Barcone said his Empire Zone incentives expire in two years. He hopes to remain in his building—space is tight; he’s currently looking for an off-site storage facility—although he said the high property taxes are an issue, seriously boosting his overhead. There’s some other things he’d like to change, such as not having to be responsible for cleaning up the graffiti on his building, which has become a recent problem. (He said he feels the perpetuator, who was caught and is currently being held in the county jail, should be required to do this). A crab apple tree he planted out front was unfortunately destroyed by an out-of-control car, and attractive planters he and his wife put out front were taken away by city workers one winter and never returned.
Barcone said being near the high school is an advantage, and he’s long been at home in the area. There’s plenty of parking. His grown son and daughter work in the business, and he’s hopeful that Barcone Music will continue to thrive for many more generations to come—and here in Kingston, we in the business community hope.—Lynn Woods