Casa Amadeo doesn’t just sell records: Thanks to Mike Amadeo’s love of music, and talent for creating it, the store has started and supported Latin-music careers for most of its history. “I started shopping at Casa Amadeo when I was 13 years old,” says Jason Molina, now 33. “I bought my first LP there, Héctor Lavoe’s Comedia.” To local Latin-music fans, Molina is Jumpin’ Jay, one of the main DJs on La Mega 97.9, spinning and announcing from midnight to 6 a.m., Monday through Thursday. He found many of the songs he spins, particularly the classics, while browsing Casa Amadeo’s stacks.
Before Molina became a DJ, he studied accounting and information technology, staying in touch with his passion for music through frequent visits to Casa Amadeo. “I kept going back because [Amadeo’s] such a nice guy,” he says. “That was my store to get anything, especially salsa. Mr. Amadeo knows his music.”
Amadeo has a good ear because he’s a skilled musician himself, and he often encourages his customers to try making their own songs instead of just listening. “He’s a resource for young musicians,” explains Harvey Averne, 79, a former Latin recording artist turned producer who has taken home two Grammys for his work on Latin soul albums. “If you tell him you play trumpet, he’ll tell you who you need to listen to, or if you’re a singer, who you should study.”
A legend in his own right, Averne marveled for years over the influence of just one man and his store, even though he’d never talked to the proprietor himself. “We finally met for the first time six months ago,” Averne explains. “We hung out for about three hours. He started pulling all my productions out, and in the end he pulled out some orange-flavored moonshine.”
The two old-timers bonded over what everyone connects with at Casa Amadeo: history, shared culture, and a love of music. “He’s outlasted everything and you can’t replace him,” Averne says. “Nobody runs a shop like him.”