INVASION OF PRIVACY: Local legend Al "Buzzo" Bruno a long-standing Geneseo icon

After 38 years on Main Street, Geneseo, Al "Buzzo" Bruno and Buzzo's Music have become a cornerstone of the campus and local community.

Smiling behind an iconic white beard that swirls around his face like cotton candy, Buzzo approaches each customer with a husky, soft-spoken friendliness, and his store is as accommodating as his personality.

The front shelves are stacked with thousands of CDs, tapes and records, the back walls are lined with guitars and a variety of musical equipment, and the empty spaces in between are filled with old pictures, clippings and memorabilia.

Customers often relate the feeling of going into Buzzo's to that of walking into an old friend's home, and it's not far from the truth. Buzzo lives below the store, and has been a local of Geneseo since he arrived as a college undergraduate in 1967.

Though he quit school midway through senior year, he was actively involved as a trumpet player in the orchestra, worked for three years as a resident assistant, and earned a place in Geneseo's former wrestling hall of fame.

"I even went to classes now and then," Buzzo said with a wink.

Majoring in music history and literature, he also made a name for himself on campus with The Al Bruno Quintet, the members of which went on to help him open Buzzo's Music in 1970. The store opened right after he left school, and was called Buzzo's after the nickname originally held by his bass player's brother.

"Sometime within the first year," he said, "[they] started calling me Buzzo. And it's stuck ever since."

Like any home, Buzzo said, "You come in here and it's exactly how it's always been. That's what's so good about it."

Indeed, Buzzo treats each passing visitor as his guest, as well as a customer. The store is open seven days a week, and Buzzo is almost always behind the counter; most people have come to know him on a first-name basis. His customers range from families with children just learning an instrument to college musicians getting new equipment and all music enthusiasts in between.

With digital technology allowing students to burn CDs and download mp3s, most of the store's money in recent years has come in from outside the college. According to Buzzo, however, more college kids are buying guitars this year than ever before.

"I like my lifestyle," Buzzo said. "I don't have to grow up." He continues to play trumpet and sing at various public gatherings, meet new people and keep up with old friendships while maintaining a close relationship with his mother, two sisters and two brothers.

"What you see is what you get," said Buzzo of himself and his store. "I am what I am - nothing more, nothing less."