Company Housing has long history and while its members have changed over the years there has always been two constants. The founder and guitarist, Michael Pietrangelo and the musical goal to play music that people recognize, appreciate and can sing along to. Pietrangelo has been quoted as saying "Nothing makes me happier on stage than when I see someone mouth the words “Oh my gosh I love this song”!"
Michael Pietrangelo was attending an acoustic jam session that was being held on Cleveland’s westside market area every Wednesday night. He met many talented musicians there but became friendly with a couple other musicians. Frank Zangara was a really talented guitarist and Leanne Mooney was a beautiful violin player. Pietrangelo approached the two musicians to see if they would have any interest in getting together for additional rehearsals with the goal of performing in public in the near future. Both Mooney and Zangara were on board. After several rehearsals it became very clear that they needed a vocalist. To this point Pietrangelo was handling the singing duties and based on the large crowds of wild animals and stray cats that would congregate wherever he would sing, the search for a vocalist began!
Leanne knew of a female vocalist at her church with a beautiful voice. Her name was Julie Boehm. Leanne approached Julie and she was very interested! Simultaneously, Pietrangelo had placed an ad on Craigslist for a vocalist. A young man named Jacob Damsky responded with an email expressing his interest with a link to his YouTube channel. Now the original members had a little dilemma. They had two INCREDIBLE vocalists but had room for only one. It was an easy decision to change plans and start our project with 5 members.
Unfortunately guitarist Zangara had to leave the band do to time constraints. It was at that time Santo Equale joined the band. Santo was a classically trained session guitarist from New York City. He had unbelievable skills and a wealth of musical knowledge.
As time went on it became more and more difficult to arrange rehearsals and to manage the group when everybody had separate lives and things pulling them in different directions. Something very organic happened next. In between songs, Pietrangelo would be fiddling around on the guitar, playing songs not on the set list. While doing so on more than one occasion Damsky would start to sing the song. It became very clear that Pietrangelo and Damsky had very similar musical tastes. Before long the two would hang out after rehearsal and play around with other covers and found an “ease” to these sessions. Shortly there after they started doing open mics and quickly started receiving offers to do shows.
After about two years performing as a duo. Pietrangelo started to tire of the business side of performing and decided to step away from public performances.
After almost a year of “vacation”, Pietrangelo was browsing an online musicians forum and found an ad for a female vocalist that was looking for an acoustic guitarist to do some shows. Shelby Searcy was an American Idol contestant in 2013 and made it to the top 40. As you could imagine she had an incredible voice and the two worked very well together. Unfortunately the association was very brief. Searcy was a nursing school student an upon graduation received an offer to work at The Cleveland Clinic on weekends making it impossible for her to do live shows.
A few months went by when one day Pietrangelo received a text message from an anonymous number. It was a woman that had seen Pietrangelo and Damsky perform and made a note that she wanted them to perform at her wedding. At this point Damsky and Pietrangelo hadn’t performed together in over a year. The offer was sizable enough that Pietrangelo reached out to Damsky to see if he would be interested in doing the wedding. Damsky agreed and rehearsals commenced. After several rehearsals it became clear that there was renewed interest from both men to start performing again. Pietrangelo reached out to many of their regular stops and there was immediate interest.
After about one year Damsky informed Pietrangelo that there was a possibility that he might be moving back to the northeast in the coming months. Damsky knew it was Pietrangelo’s desire to continue to perform so plans were put into place to find a replacement for Damsky.
Pietrangelo placed an ad on a musicians forum looking for a vocalist. He received about 50 responses and even rehearsed with a number of vocalists but was having a really hard time finding a good fit. One day Abby Ohlsen emailed Pietrangelo and expressed an interest in trying out for the position. In the email, Ohlsen included a link to a couple YouTube videos and some audio files. She had a VERY pleasant voice and some of the songs that she was covering were songs from genres that Pietrangelo felt were lacking in his sets. The only problem was Ohlsen had only dreamed about performing out. She had never been part of a band or sang in a public setting. After a brief meeting the pair decided to get together and work on a couple songs. They have been performing ever since.
Abby Ohlsen is the current vocalist for Company Housing. Her voice has incredible range and can quickly change to cover current pop songs or a 60’s blues cover. She’ has a great sense of humor and her positivity and eagerness to perform come through on the stage.
Every person that has contributed to the musical journey described above made a significant contribution to this bands history and each and every member was and is appreciated for that.