Want To Tickle Vladimir Horowitz’s Ivories?

Legendary concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz so loved his Steinway grand piano he took it on tour with him at considerable trouble and expense. Horowitz died 30 years ago but the piano is still on tour.

Legendary concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz so loved his Steinway grand piano he took it on tour with him at considerable trouble and expense. Horowitz died 30 years ago but the piano is still on tour.

Vladimir Horowitz’s favorite piano will be in Melville next weekend as part of an ongoing tour of North America.

The Steinway & Sons Model D Horowitz Piano, CD 503, as it is known to its makers, will be at Steinway Piano Gallery Long Island in Melville Aug. 7-11 where pianists can sign up for an opportunity to play.

The piano is a nine-foot concert grand and one of the piano maker’s most revered designs, according to a Steinway spokesman. The tour provides a rare opportunity for the public to see, hear, touch and even play the fabled instrument that accompanied the titan of classical music on tours.

Horowitz is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. His astounding performances made him a favorite of audiences for decades. In a gesture not unlike today’s celebrity endorsement deals, Steinway and Sons in 1934 presented Horowitz with a Steinway Model D as a wedding present when he married his wife Wanda. In the early 1940’s, this piano was replaced with the one now known simply as CD 503.

It was, according to Steinway & Sons, played in many recitals and recordings in the 70’s and 80’s, and the one Horowitz kept in his New York townhouse. He was so attached to the piano, he insisted it be his exclusive touring instrument, and required that it be craned out of his Manhattan apartment and delivered to the concert venue regardless of distance or cost.

The iconic Horowitz piano has inspired countless musicians, teachers, students, and fans around the world. As an added point of interest, the underside of the soundboard features the signatures of the thousands of store owners, technicians, sales representatives, and delivery men who have cared for the piano during its travels over the last eight decades.

Horowitz died in 1989 but that piano is still on the road, and soon to land at the Steinway Piano Gallery, 505 Walt Whitman Road, Melville. Pianists may sign up for a time to play the piano by calling 631-424-0525 or visiting Steinway.com/horowitz.

Foghat Rollin’ In To The Paramount

Foghat founding member and Long Island resident Roger Earl will be on the drums when the band plays The Paramount Aug. 9.  Photo/Mark Scheirhold

Foghat founding member and Long Island resident Roger Earl will be on the drums when the band plays The Paramount Aug. 9. Photo/Mark Scheirhold

By Peter Sloggatt
psloggatt@longislandergroup.com

“Slow ride… take it easy.”

If you’re of a certain age – and its not an age with a label like Gen X, Y, Z or millennial – when you read that line you automatically sing it in your head. You hear the guitar rhythm, bob your head to it.

“Slow ride… ”

Maybe you play a little air guitar.

“… take it easy.”

What you don’t really think about is how Foghat failed to take its own advice.

You see, the Brit-based band could be one of the hardest working bands in rock and roll. They’ve been at it since the 70s and over the past 40 years they’ve pretty much stayed the course. They have yet to take it easy.

Foghat rocks hard and plays hard. At their peak in the late 1970s, “Slow Ride” and “Fool For The City” were all but burned into people’s minds. The tracks got plenty of airplay and the band’s infectious, high-energy sound made sure you sang – and air-guitared –  along.

And because you listened to the radio, you knew the band by name. From the constant commercials on the airwaves, it seemed Foghat was always playing someplace local: Spit, The Stone Pony maybe.

Live performances are the heart and soul of Foghat, says drummer Roger Earl, one of the group’s founding members and now both a US citizen and Long Islander. While the touring pace may have slowed, “we still do 50 to 70 shows a year,” Earl said.

A show like the one they’ll bring to The Paramount on Aug. 9 will have the hits. You’ll hear “Slow Ride,” “Fool For The City” and “Stone Blue.” You’ll get your “Driving Wheel,” and maybe that awesome cover of Willie Dixon’s  “I Just Wanna Make Love To You.” 

And then, who knows… 

“We try to throw four or five new songs in the set to keep it fresh,” Earl said.

Performing is a part of Earl’s roots. When he’s not on stage himself, he’s watching someone else.

“My father took me to see Jerry Lee Lewis when I was 12,” he said. When he 14 he started heading to Soho where he’d catch acts like The Yardbirds, and the Rolling Stones at the Marquis. And while it’s the first time Foghat will play The Paramount stage, it won’t be Earl’s first trip to the venue. The drummer said he’s caught shows by guitar great Buddy Guy and Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty at the venue.

“Fantastic venue. I’m looking forward to playing there,” he said. And that’s coming from a guy who’s played more than a fair share of concert halls over the past five or six decades.

“I joined my first band when I was 16 or 17… me and some of my fellow schoolmates. It was all about being in a band,” Earl said, adding he’s been with his present band longer than he hasn’t.

“And I still get chills before I go out,” he said.  “It’s not until I sit at the drums and count, one, two, three, four… Then I relax.”

That and when he’s fishin’, which is one reason why since 1973 Earl has called Long Island home.

Catch Foghat at The Paramount Aug. 9, 8 p.m. Tickets run $19.50 to $65 at the Paramount box office, or visit paramountny.com.

Jonny Lang Rocks At The Paramount

Jonny Lang brought his stadium-worthy guitar chops to The Paramount in Huntington

Jonny Lang brought his stadium-worthy guitar chops to The Paramount in Huntington

By Peter Sloggatt
psloggatt@longislandergroup.com

If you were stone deaf, you could have heard Jonny Lang’s guitar. The young guitar legend playing the middle slot of a triple bill at The Paramount in Huntington Tuesday night, sandwiched between openers the North Mississippi Allstars, a raucous brassy blues band, and the soulful rocker J.J. Grey.

Jonny came out swinging.

Lang, a legend at age 12 when he played for Buddy Guy, jumped right in showing his guitar chops in “Don’t Stop For Anything,” and another song from his latest album, “Signs.”

Lang’s guitar work speaks for itself, but his you could have heard those licks if your world went stone, cold silent. He played with the intensity of a stadium performer with big strokes, exaggerated movements and wildly contorted facial expressions.

And why not, the 36-year-old has played more than his share of stadiums. In fact he tells a story about the first time he met Eric Clapton. One of Lang’s many guitar idols, Clapton and he were to share the stage at the Crossroads concert. On stage in front of 30,000 people, “we ended up standing next to each other and he said, ‘Hey, so here we are’,”Lang said.

Lang said Clapton was one of his idols.

“His ‘From The Cradle’ was one of those albums where I had to learn every riff.”

Jonny brought the stadium show to the Paramount, dripping sweat, screaming with sound and giving the audience more than what they came for.

The 10-song set included hits from his songbook – “Snakes” and the playful “Rack ‘Em Up” – as well as a cover of Stevie Wonder’s  “Livin’ In The City.” It sounded fresh and contemporary in Lang’s hands.

The energy level barely let up on the way to the final encore, a bluesy, pained, riff-riven “Breakin’ Me/Lie To Me,” perhaps his best known song.

The three acts added up to a four-hour night that left the audience in a festival mood.

I’ll give Lang’s stadium-worthy performance more than a little credit for that.

Chili Cook-Off Honors A Fallen Brother

Winners of the inaugural Gerard Molloy Chili Cook-Off sponsored by Huntington Ancient Order of Hibernians, from left, are: Brian Rogers, Steve Fox, Deb Stolba, Bryan Kelly and Elaine Dougherty. The event honored the memory of Hibernian Gerard Molloy, inset at right, who died earlier this year.

Winners of the inaugural Gerard Molloy Chili Cook-Off sponsored by Huntington Ancient Order of Hibernians, from left, are: Brian Rogers, Steve Fox, Deb Stolba, Bryan Kelly and Elaine Dougherty. The event honored the memory of Hibernian Gerard Molloy, inset at right, who died earlier this year.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) in Huntington lost a dear friend this past January.  Gerard Molloy, 51, of Seaford died after a quick bout with pancreatic cancer, leaving behind his beloved wife Francine and two high school-aged daughters Meghan and Erin.

The Hibernians were preparing to celebrate the 85th Huntington St. Patrick’s parade when the shocking news rocked the division. Plans were quickly set in place to honor Molloy. Grand Marshal Ball chairman Colin Brady had a commemorative poster board created for the 250-plus dinner and dance attendees to see on March 8. He also began the evening with a moving tribute. Molloy’s eldest daughter Meghan had been selected as one of the parade’s Colleens. The Colleens are always the daughter of a member who is graduating high school and seeking higher education. In a wonderful tradition, each is presented with a scholarship to help with that goal.

That weekend when the division marched down the streets of Huntington, the members wore black arm bands with a green emerald ribbon in memory of Molloy. Meghan could be seen popping out the top of a Jeep wearing her dad’s Irish cap while smiling and waving to the people lining the streets.  She knew her dad was looking down at her proudly.

The AOH’s motto is friendship, unity and Christian charity. Throughout the years, the members have worked hard to put food on the table of the needy and raise funds for students who receive special education at high schools within Huntington Township. Now was a time to look inward and take care of the family of a fallen brother.

Toward that end, a fundraising Chili Cook-off event was created to raise funds, a portion of which would go toward an educational endowment as Meghan was soon to head off to Lock Haven University.

Vice President John Broderick said, “hosting a cook-off in Gerard’s honor was a no brainer. It perfectly pairs with our fond memories of him, a well-respected executive pastry chef who loved to dabble in all aspects of cooking.

The Gerard M. Molloy Memorial Chili Cook-off was held on June 29 at American Legion Post 360 in Halesite. The hall was packed as 15 contestants showcased their chili prowess. Chefs from the Long Island chapter of the American Culinary Federation were on hand to be judges. Brian Rogers, Deb Stolba and Steve Fox walked away as first-, second- and third-place winners, respectively.  Bryan Kelly and Elaine Dougherty received People’s Choice awards. But most important, many laughs were shared as people tasted delicious chili and took chances on great raffle items and a 50/50.

The day ended on a profound note when the winner of 50/50 raffle walked up to Francine and handed her the winnings. She too had lost her husband to cancer at a young age.

Engeman’s Saturday Night Fever Burns Hot

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

It’s hard not to tap your toes and bob your head when hearing “Stayin’ Alive” as your favorite disco classics take form in the ’70s spectacular musical “Saturday Night Fever.”

This energetic rendition of the blockbuster film will make anyone want to hit the dance floor and do the hustle. The classic movie gets a musical twist with characters singing and dancing their way through life’s challenges with the help of the Bee Gees and other disco legends. It tells the story of Tony Manero, played by Michael Notardonato, a teen dodging his problems through his love for dancing.

“It’s a coming of age story,” Notardonato said in an opening weekend interview. “It’s about this 19-year-old guy, that’s trying to break out of his no-good neighborhood and rise above the struggles he’s grown up around.”

Throughout the musical, Tony encounters characters who pull him in different directions. He finds himself consumed by Stephanie Mangano, played by Missy Dowse, a refined dancer that wants to escape Bay Ridge and make a new life for herself in Manhattan. As the pair practices for an upcoming dance competition, Tony realizes he wants more than living at home and working at a paint shop.

“The message I hope people take away is no matter how trapped or stuck you are in your current situation, you can overcome that by finding a few guiding lights in your life,” Notardonato said. “It’s about choosing your happiness and finding your own path.”

As Tony figures this out, he and the cast share sensational numbers on the 2001 Odyssey dance floor, with choreography that masters the decade’s scene. The cast moves with precision while performing, “Night Fever” and “You Should Be Dancing,” giving the feel of a crowded club moving in unity to their favorite song. These disco hits take new life when performed by Monty, played by Colin E. Liander, and Candy, played by Gabriella Mancuso, who perform soulful renditions of “Disco Inferno” and “More than a Woman.”

“Learning choreography for Saturday Night Fever, it’s very important to capture the 70s vocabulary, especially because the audience is familiar and grew up with this style,” Notardonato said. “We gotta give them a hustle.”

The actors commit to their roles completely, embodying Brooklyn through their accents, style and mannerisms. With casual, conversational dialogue, they build realistic relationships between friends, lovers and even parents and children. As a first generation Italian, Notardonato feels he can relate to his character and puts his own twist on the iconic role, while keeping famous scenes intact.

“When I play Tony, I like to bring out the youth in his character,” Notardonato said. “I play him a little goofy, because he is a ladies man and a bit of a womanizer, but he’s also 19 and doesn’t know much. He’s learning a lot in the time the audience sees him, you get to watch him grow up.”

You can’t have the Bee Gees, without a group of guys harmonizing and hitting those falsetto  high notes. Tony and his friends, who call themselves “The Faces” are the ultimate guy group, that move and groove in the song “Boogie Shoes.”

“We want the audience to take a trip back in time, have a nostalgic moment and maybe see the glimmer of their youth,” Notardonato said. “For people my age, we can relate to the characters and see that you can change anything about your life, you just have to go ahead and do it.”

Performances of Saturday Night Fever run through Sunday, August 25 at John W. Engeman Theater in Northport. Tickets are available for Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at EngemanTheater.com.

Star-Studded Hospital Fundraiser Raises $140K

Steven Messina, Marybeth Messina Seus and Chris Messina with golf outing honoree Robert Kerr, MD, PhD. and actor Justin Long.

Steven Messina, Marybeth Messina Seus and Chris Messina with golf outing honoree Robert Kerr, MD, PhD. and actor Justin Long.

The inaugural Philip Messina Memorial Golf Tournament brought some stars to town and raised $140,000 for brain cancer treatment and research at Huntington Hospital.

The event was organized by the family of the late Philip Messina of Northport, who died in February 2018 after battling one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer called a glioblastoma multiforme. He was 74.

The tournament, held at the Indian Hills Country Club on July 8, celebrated Messina’s life and also honored the neurosurgeon who treated him, Robert Kerr, MD, PhD, chief of neurosurgery at Huntington Hospital.

“We are extremely grateful to the Messina family for their kindness, generosity and devotion,” Kerr said. “We are constantly looking for new and more effective treatments that will help improve the quality of life for patients suffering with brain cancer. What is so often overlooked is how the whole family is affected when a family member has this devastating disease. The Messina family’s unwavering strength through this most trying time – their father’s diagnosis and treatment – is truly to be admired.”

Messina is the father of Marybeth Seus, musician Steven Messina and actor Chris Messina (The Mindy Project, Sharp Objects). They were joined at the fundraiser by more than 130 guests, including family, friends and colleagues. Actor Justin Long was the master of ceremonies.

“At our first event, our hope was to raise significant funds so that Dr. Kerr and his incredible team can continue their pioneering work in neurological surgery for the benefit of future generations,” said Seus. “We want our community to know about Dr. Kerr and the amazing care he gave to our father and the compassion he showed us during the most difficult and heartbreaking time in our lives. Dr. Kerr made a huge impact and left a mark in our hearts.”

Birthplace Barking Up Whitman’s Family Tree

Descendants on Walt Whitman’s family tree gather at the Walt Whitman Birthplace  to celebrate the poet’s 200th birthday.

Descendants on Walt Whitman’s family tree gather at the Walt Whitman Birthplace to celebrate the poet’s 200th birthday.

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com
 

Generations of Walt Whitman’s descendants will gather to find common history and explore their ancestor’s life at the Birthplace’s “Family and Friends” reunion.

Relatives and lovers of Whitman are welcome to attend the reunion, presented by the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association on Saturday, July 27 from 1-5 p.m. A celebration of Whitman’s life in the poet’s bicentennial year, the free event will feature informative talks with genealogists, Whitman family artifacts, $5 discounted historic house tours, and a performance by Dance Visions NY. The good grey poet himself will be there in the person of Whitman personator Darrel Blaine Ford.

“We figured the relatives would be interested in coming back to celebrate the 200th year of Whitman’s birth,” executive director, Cynthia Shor said. “It’s memorable for the visitors to see them and the new exhibitions. Our doors are open and we are expecting a crowd.”

Over the years the Birthplace has encountered and collected information from Whitman relatives. Shor said more than 60 family members were invited to the reunion.

Although Whitman neither married nor had children he had many lateral descendants that branched from his wide family tree. The Whitmans have deep roots in Huntington as Walt’s grandfather and great-grandfather owned a large amount of land in West Hills.

“The Whitman’s were an old family in Huntington. They were among the earliest settlers,” historian Margaret Guardi said. “They intermarried with other old families. So when the Whitmans lived here, Walt had a lot of relatives in the area.”

Mixed into the Whitman family tree are numerous surnames familiar in Huntington: Sammis, Brush, Wood, Platt, Scudder, Buffet, King, Smith, Gates, Cole, Nostrand, Van Nostrand, Van Size, Velsor, Van Velsor, Young(s), Tuthill, McCunne, Sage, Woolsey, Carrl, Seymour, Colton, Treadwell, Seaman, Lewis, Kennedy, and Reed. Tracing shared ancestors, genealogists have found Whitman is related to Benedict Arnold, Shirley Temple, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Bill Gates.

The Birthplace encourages anyone with these names to come and figure out their connection to Whitman with the help of genealogists April Lynne Earle and Bill Chamberlain. Earle will explain the process of researching and finding relatives with Genealogy 101. While Chamberlain – an expert in the town’s oldest ancestors – will focus on Huntington family lineages.

“We feel they will be helpful to the families that visit, with finding out more about their family tree,” Guardi said. “Whether they are related to Whitman or old families in the area, it will be interesting for them to find long lost relatives.”

Whitman family heirlooms will be on display, including a pen and ink stand used by Whitman, books with his signature, and two quilts bearing the Whitman initials in the stitching. The Birthplace also has a Whitman family bible that was a gift from Walt to his sister Mary Elizabeth.

“We want to draw the family members together,” Shor said. “They have a common ancestor. By looking at something that was alive for their ancestors, it will make him more alive to all his relatives.”

The reunion will also be an opportunity to take in a new addition to the Birthplace’s interpretive center that goes deep into Whitman’s roots. Photo restorer George Mallis aided the restoration of Whitman’s family photos and portraits for the exhibit that tell his life story.

“Each panel explains various times in his life,” Guardi said. “When he was a journalist, when he helped soldiers in the Civil War, when he was older and well-regarded as a poet. The newest panel deals with his childhood and going to school.”

Bringing Whitman’s words to life, Dance Vision NY will perform a contemporary piece, “I Hear America Singing, I See America Dancing” at 3:30 p.m.

“We wanted relatives and friends to see Whitman’s legacy in action,” Shor said. “It’s a different art form than poetry, so there could be cross-discipline appreciation.”

With Blues Roots, You’re Gonna Drag In Some Mud

“Swamp rocker” J.J. Grey and his band Mofro open a triple bill at the Paramount Tuesday.

“Swamp rocker” J.J. Grey and his band Mofro open a triple bill at the Paramount Tuesday.

By Peter Sloggatt
psloggatt@longislandergroup.com

They’re gonna make some noise when a triple bill of American originals hits the stage at The Paramount Tuesday.

It’s not enough that “swamp rocker” J.J. Grey and his band Mofro share the bill with guitar prodigy-turned-legend Jonny Lang, a guest appearance by the racous North Mississippi Allstars should raise the roof right off the rafters.

It’s going down Tuesday night, July 16, and the card is so full it will take an early start to fit everything in. Show time is 6:30 p.m., so make your dinner plans for early.

Who are these guys that are going to make even The Paramount’s sturdy steel timbers shake?

Straight out of gator country, J.J. Grey ‘s raw vocals and backwoods blues guitar earned him his own genre – swamp rock. Grey grew up in what he calls the “Redneck Triangle” outside of Jacksonville, Fla. Home is a pecan grove that was his grandparents’ place.

Grey cites as influences everything from church preachers to the bands he heard in juke joints near home along the Georgia border. His music is honest, visceral and – delivered with a distinct voice that wraps the best Southern rockers around a Delta bluesman. Hard to ignore.

Jonny Lang’s bringin’ his guitar.

Jonny Lang’s bringin’ his guitar.

If that’s not enough awe for one night, bring on Jonny Lang, who can make a guitar do things a guitar’s daddy doesn’t even want to think about.

The music world isn’t sure if Lang earned his chops or just was born with ’em. Could be his DNA is made from the steel of a guitar string.

He was just 12 when he caught the attention of Buddy Guy, with whom he still tours today. Lang regularly trades riffs with the best of them – Clapton, B.B. King, Keith Richards – and channels Jimi Hendrix on tour with Experience Hendrix.

Like J.J. Grey, Lang’s honesty and boyish charm come through despite the power chords.

North Mississippi All Stars top the bill at Paramount.

North Mississippi All Stars top the bill at Paramount.

Then there’s the North Mississippi All Stars, set to do what they do best: make some noise. Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson – sons of producer and session player Jim Dickinson – write and play their own brand of blues-based roots music that springs, as they say, straight from the Mississippi mud.

It’s gonna be a night. Tickets are  $39.50 to $74.50. Visit the Paramount box office or go to paramountny.com.

Huntington Sculptor Pays Tribute To War Dogs

Huntington artist Susan Bahary’s sculpture “Stubby Salutes” is permanently installed at the American Kennel Club’s museum in New York City. At the installation, from left, are: WWI Centennial Commission representative Dr. Libby O’Connell; American Kennel Club executive director Alan Fausel; Bahary; and members of the Sgt. Stubby’s “Conroy” family: Kaley Thornton, Curt Deane, Michael O’Brien, and Alexandra Deane Thornton surround teh sculpture.

Huntington artist Susan Bahary’s sculpture “Stubby Salutes” is permanently installed at the American Kennel Club’s museum in New York City. At the installation, from left, are: WWI Centennial Commission representative Dr. Libby O’Connell; American Kennel Club executive director Alan Fausel; Bahary; and members of the Sgt. Stubby’s “Conroy” family: Kaley Thornton, Curt Deane, Michael O’Brien, and Alexandra Deane Thornton surround teh sculpture.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

A Huntington sculptor’s statue memorializing the service of America’s first war dog has found a home.

Sgt. Stubby, a bull terrier who served as the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment during World War I, became legend for his combat exploits overseas during World War I. Sculptor Susan Bahary of Huntington memorialized Sgt. Stubby in a bronze sculpture which was recently installed at the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Museum of the Dog in New York City. The recent addition joins two other Bahary sculptures, “Smokey” and “Always Faithful.” Smokey depicts a four-pound Yorkshire terrier who helped soldiers carry a communication cable under an airstrip through a drain pipe safeguarding 40 U.S. airplanes. “Always Faithful” is a sculpture of a doberman that sits atop a U.S. Marines Corps monument dedicated to the 25 war dogs killed in combat during World War II.

Another Bahary sculpture, “Always Faithful” sits atop a USMC monument to service dogs killed in action.

Another Bahary sculpture, “Always Faithful” sits atop a USMC monument to service dogs killed in action.

Bahary crafted these sculptures to recognize the service of dogs who saved many lives during war.
“This honors the deeds and sacrifices of all our service animals – whether it’s guide dog, war or police – and their handlers,” Bahary said. “It raises our level of awareness and compassion of how great our animals are… that we need to take care of them.”

American Kennel Club held a ceremony on May 23 to welcome “Stubby Salutes” as a permanent installation. The group laid a commemorative wreath of red and purple poppies in remembrance of soldiers and animals who gave their lives in combat.

“He is yet another tribute to the heroic canine companions and service dogs who have stood side by side with soldiers in battle,” AKC executive director Alan Fausel said.

War dogs didn’t serve until World War II, but Stubby aided soldiers on 17 battlefields in the first world war. The story goes that his owner Robert Conroy found him as a stray on Yale University’s campus. As Conroy trained for the Army, he taught Stubby tricks and the pair became inseparable.

“When it was time to ship off to France, he smuggled his friend on the ship with a blanket,” Bahary said. “When the commanding officer discovered him on the ship and asked what he was doing there, Conroy prompted [Stubby] to do ‘his salute trick.’ He got up on his haunches and gave the salute. That’s what saved him.”

Bahary’s scupture “Stubby Salutes” captures the moment when Sgt. Stubby charmed his way on board an Army transport ship by saluting.

Bahary’s scupture “Stubby Salutes” captures the moment when Sgt. Stubby charmed his way on board an Army transport ship by saluting.

Bahary chose to honor this moment, sculpting Stubby in his posture of salute.

The sculptor thought his valuable service in World War I made him an “iconic” dog. More than a mascot, the dog delivered messages in combat. He went into the “no man’s land” between the German and Allies’ trenches. He recognized Allied soldiers’ uniforms, and stayed with injured soldiers until help arrived. He even warned the troops about incoming artillery and attack by lethal gas.

“He could detect the smell of mustard gas being sent over,” Bahary said. “This allowed his fellow two-legged soldiers time to put on their gas masks. Thus he did save lives.”

Despite being wounded in France by shrapnel and mustard gas, Stubby continued to serve. After the liberation of one French town, the women of Chateau-Thierry made Stubby a jacket, bearing his name, the word infantry, and the Yankee insignia and flags of the Allies. Bahary’s sculpture depicts the dog proudly wearing the jacket, his arm raised in salute.

On his return to America, Stubby was given a hero’s welcome, leading parades and meeting three presidents.

The legendary Sgt. Stubby proudly wears his medals on a coat sewed for him by the women of a grateful French village.

The legendary Sgt. Stubby proudly wears his medals on a coat sewed for him by the women of a grateful French village.

“Although he wasn’t actually made a sergeant, he was so loved by many of the soldiers that they often gave him their medals and he wore them on his jacket,” Bahary said.

Stubby was awarded at least one medal on his own. “General John Pershing met him and awarded him a medal,” Bahary said.

When Stubby died in 1926, the New York Times ran a half-page obituary

Bahary was eager to immortalize Stubby in bronze and worked several months on research, mold making, bronze pouring, before applying the final patina.

Once complete, she showed the final statue to the Conroy family, who were “very pleased”.
“I think we were a good fit, because we both really care about the proper representation of Stubby,” Bahary said. “We’re coming from the same place and they trusted me.”

The original casting resides at the Trees of Honor in Conroy’s hometown of Middletown, Connecticut. Bahary created a limited number of additional castings to display at significant locations in honor of the 100th anniversary of Stubby’s return to the U.S.

“Stubby Salutes” can be viewed at the AKC Museum of the Dog, 101 Park Ave in New York City.

A Summer Of Free Performances Ahead

Family night opens the Summer Arts Festival when Plaza Theatrical Productions performs “Cinderella”.

Family night opens the Summer Arts Festival when Plaza Theatrical Productions performs “Cinderella”.

This year marks the 54th anniversary of the Huntington Summer Arts Festival. A new season of music, dance and entertainment runs almost every night from June 25 through Aug. 11. Six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday, touring artists and ensembles will be featured on the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park for the annual summer festival of free performance.

Here are some of the highlights from opening week:

Opening Night - Tuesday, June 25
“Cinderella” Plaza Theatrical Productions
All the ingredients that have made this musical a perennial favorite are here ... The wicked stepsisters, the zany Fairy Godmother, beautiful Cinderella, and, of course, the handsome prince!

A pre-show Prince and Princess Parade will feature children wearing colorful clothing from The Pink Link of Huntington.

Long Island Dance Consortium performs June 26.   Photo by Clemente Ettrick

Long Island Dance Consortium performs June 26. Photo by Clemente Ettrick

Wednesday June 26
Long Island Dance Consortium Kaleidescope of Dance

The Long Island Dance Consortium (LIDC) is composed of presenters, dance advocates, dance professionals, Arts Councils and companies from the finest dance studios on Long Island. This program will showcase The Red Hot Mamas, a unique group of senior tap dancers, who will perform with their usual sophistication and vivacity and the brilliant dancers of the North Shore Dance who will showcase their sensational cutting edge choreography. The Dance Theatre Company will bring their upbeat style of Broadway jazz to the stage and Ohana Mokuloa, a classical Hawaiian Dance Company, will light up the evening with dances from the South Pacific. The winners of the Rea Jacobs Dance Scholarship and the Sandi Bloomberg Dance Scholarship, Ruth Rise and Elisabeth Shim will perform exciting solos.

Huntington Men’s Chorus sings June 27.  Photo by Greg Catalano

Huntington Men’s Chorus sings June 27. Photo by Greg Catalano

Thursday, June 27

Huntington Men’s Chorus

The Huntington Men’s Chorus originated in 1949 with a group of Huntington men who shared exceptional vocal talent, choral singing experience, and a desire to foster male choral singing. That original group of 34 has grown substantially, as has the style and diversity of its programs.  The chorus continues to promote and perform a wide variety of selections; its annual Christmas Concert at Huntington High School and its appearance at the HSAF are highlights each year.

Banda Magda brings Pineapples and Laughter to the Heckscher stage June 28.  Photo by Shervin Lainez

Banda Magda brings Pineapples and Laughter to the Heckscher stage June 28. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Friday, June 28  
Banda Magda-World Music

Banda Magda moves from samba to French chanson, from Greek folk tunes to Colombian cumbia and Afro-Peruvian lando. Their songs capture the best of mid-century pop ballads and cinematic arranging, drawing on the band’s global background and unchained musicality. This group of close musical friends turn Giannikou’s songs into engaging romps that have won them a spot with Carnegie Hall Musical Explorers Series, as well as performances at venues such as Webster Hall, Irving Plaza, The Kennedy Center and numerous festivals. Greek-born singer, film scorer, and composer Magda Giannikou has collaborated with everyone from Kronos Quartet to Snarky Puppy.

Gear up when Hazmat Modine brings its brand of blues to the Heckscher stage June 29.

Gear up when Hazmat Modine brings its brand of blues to the Heckscher stage June 29.

Saturday, June 29
Hazmat Modine

Bluesy, roots, folk and jazz jam band HAZMAT MODINE plays the kind of blues one might have found in a barrelhouse in New Orleans had the city been inhabited by gypsies who performed with Otis Redding and the city had been built on the Black Sea. The band is driven by harmonicas, tuba, drums, guitars, Banjo and a full horn section. Guests play such exotic instruments as the Romanian cimbalom, the banjitar, and the Claviola. Front man Wade Schuman has the appropriately throaty voice of someone who has both hopped freight trains and collaborated with the Throat Singers of Tuva.

Plena Libre brings the lively sounds of Mexico June 30.

Plena Libre brings the lively sounds of Mexico June 30.

Sunday, June 30
Plena Libre

Plena and bomba are distinctive musical styles of Puerto Rico, and the virtuoso musicians of Plena Libre are their contemporary masters. These four-time Grammy Award nominees combine a hard-hitting horn section, master hand drummers, and lush three-part vocal harmonies into a modern blend. Plena Libre mix traditional Puerto Rican rhythms with modern Afro-Caribbean influences, and folkloric musical roots with contemporary compositions. They’ve toured the world and recorded with some of the biggest names in Latin music. Over a 24-year, 15-album career, bandleader Gary Nunez and his orchestra have revived the once-dormant plena sound for a new generation, electrifying audiences with a dazzling spectacle of horns, drums, and dance.

The Huntington Summer Arts Festival is produced by the Town of Huntington and presented by the Huntington Arts Council. Additional support is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the County of Suffolk and Canon U.S.A.All regularly scheduled performances take place at the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park and start at 8 p.m. The exception is Tuesday Family Night which begins at 7 p.m. A free fun craft is available on Tuesdays for children at the HAC Craft table starting at 6 p.m. All performances are rain or shine.

Scholarships Awarded At OHEKA Garden Party

Keeper of the Castle Gary Melius meets with young guests on a tour of Oheka.

Keeper of the Castle Gary Melius meets with young guests on a tour of Oheka.

Friends of Oheka, an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to the protection, preservation and public awareness of Oheka Castle, threw its annual garden party at the Castle. Headed by President Ellen Schaffer, Friends of Oheka uses the garden party to raise funds for scholarships for students graduating from high school in the town of Huntington, who are pursuing the arts.

The Otto Kahn Awards (OKA) are granted in partnership with Gary Melius. It is their chosen way of honoring and remembering the legacy of the original owner of the castle, Otto Herman Kahn. Like Melius, Kahn was a philanthropist who generously supported struggling artists through-out his life time. Each student receives a scholarship of $3,500, all of which was raised at the previous year’s garden party at Oheka Castle.

Heading up the Garden Party Committee for Friends of Oheka were Frances Sadis and Kerri Sneden. They received generous support from Ellen Fleury of Fleury Designs, Matt Harris, Bill Bohn of Summit Graphics, Greg Genovese, Douglas Martines Photography, Frank Yolango and the Walt Whitman High School Chamber Orchestra, Matthew Hoffman and the Walt Whitman High School Jazz Band, Otto Keil Florists, Kelly Melius, Nancy Melius, and Gary Melius as well as the many corporate sponsors.

The honorees at this year’s event were Steven and Paul Gentile.

Paul Gentile is the General Manager/Director of Operations and the CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) of L.I. Adventureland. Paul is tasked with balancing between the best that amusement parks can offer the entire family while preserving the parks nostalgia. As many generations of Long Islanders know, Adventureland brings smiles to all who attend the park.

Steven Gentile is the President of L.I. Adventureland. Steve enjoys the challenge of changing the parks landscape with new rides and attractions to offer the best experience to visitors, while maintaining the integrity of Adventureland’s nearly 60 year history.

This year’s Otto Kahn Award winner are:

Jaycee Cardoso, a 2019 graduate of Walt Whitman High School. Jaycee will be attending the Manhattan School of Music in the fall.  Frank Yolango, director of Orchestra at WWHS, said that Jaycee is a serious musician and violinist who can balance his academics as well as extra-curricular activities with professionalism and excellence.

John DiGiorgio III, a 2019 graduate of Half Hollow Hills High School West who will be attending the University of Southern California’s BFA Acting program in the fall. John received the LI Arts Alliance Scholar Artist Award of Merit 2018/2019 and participated in the NYSSMA Allstate Mixed Chorus. Jennifer Ievolo, a Fine Arts Teacher/Drama Director at HHHW says John “is destined for great things.”

Peter Mainetti, a 2019 graduate of Northport High School who will be attending CUNY/Queens in the fall. Peter participated as a musician and composer while at Northport in the Jazz Band, the Symphony Orchestra, IB/AP Music Theory as well as the Gemini Youth Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Edward Smaldone of the Queens College said the Peter is an outstanding young man and that he would be an asset to any project he attends.

Reyha Meteis, a 2019 graduate of Walt Whitman High School who will be attending Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in the fall. Reyha participated in AP Studio in Art, Art Portfolio, Drawing and Painting I and II and the National Art Honor Society. WWHS Art Teacher David Rickmers said “Reyha is profoundly talented and responsible young person”. Reyha’s art had a significant showing at the Hecksher Museum.

Elisabeth Shim, a 2019 graduate of Cold Spring Harbor High School will be attending Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music: IU Ballet Theatre in the fall. At CSHHS, Elisabeth was a Teacher’s Assistant for Primary level dancers. She was also a full time apprentice with the Eglevsky Ballet Company and did summer programs with the American Ballet Theatre in NYC. Maurice Brandon Curry, Executive Artistic Director at Eglevsky Ballet says “I have discovered Miss Shim’s work as disciplined, focused, and maintaining a compelling drive for perfection.”

Bombshell Concert To Benefit Veterans Charity

The American Bombshells will share a message of gratitude for those who served at the John W. Engeman Theater on June 17.

The American Bombshells will share a message of gratitude for those who served at the John W. Engeman Theater on June 17.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

As “Ambassadors of America’s Gratitude”, the American Bombshells will celebrate the military, veterans and their families on the stage of John W. Engeman Theater at Northport on June 17.
The American Bombshells have been dazzling crowds for nine years with an All-American show, that spreads a message of appreciation to those who serve. Started in 2011 by Ali Reeder of Centerport, the American Bombshells have toured across the world, performing for members of every war.
“I wanted to marry my vision of live music and my love of country,” Reeder said. “I am a very patriotic person, my husband served in the Marine Corp, and I just wanted to see more music in the world, that was uplifting and positive.”

The American Bombshells bring to life patriotic anthems like “America the Beautiful,” “Proud To Be an American” and “God Bless America” in three-part harmony, as well as music that spans from the 30s to 60s. The performance at the Engeman Theater will feature singers, Rayna Bertash of Centerport, Crystal Cimaglia of Deer Park, and Vanessa Simmons of California.

The American Bombshells perform an Andrews Sisters-style of patriotic music

The American Bombshells perform an Andrews Sisters-style of patriotic music

 “Music is one of the best ways people can communicate, particularly with the thousands of strangers we meet wherever we go,” Reeder said. “The message of our show is one of love of country and gratitude to our service members. I truly believe when people leave our shows, they feel fuller in their hearts for this service.”

A staple of every show, “The Armed Forces Branch Salute” highlights every branch of service and touches everyone in the audience, whether they served or someone close to them has, Reeder said.

“There’s always an opportunity to be grateful for everything that we have. Even in tumultuous times, as someone who has been to every part of this world, we do have a lot of blessings here,” she added.

The Bombshells are a “modern-day twist on the Andrews Sisters.” They transport the audience back in time with a carefully-crafted retro aesthetic. The women achieve a “timeless” look, from makeup to hair to costumes. Even their choreography is reminiscent of girl groups of the past, with fun, flirty and energetic movement.

“All of the songs are sung in an ‘Andrew Sister’s fashion’ with really tight harmony,” Reeder said. “This is our signature. Harmony is not an easy thing to learn or perform. These girls are masters of their craft. We want to deliver something that is technically complicated, but comes off as seamless and effortless.”

The American Bombshells give back to the military and veterans in a multitude of ways. A recognized charity, American Bombshells has donated to Boots and Suits and service dogs for veterans. For venues that partner with charities, the group makes performances cost-effective, allowing more money to be donated. They hope to raise morale with performances overseas, in hospitals and at special service member events, often spending quality time with them afterwards.

“It’s more than just the musical capacity, it’s taking the time to sit with people, and appreciating what they sacrificed,” Reeder said. “It’s much more personal. It’s a very intimate thing for us when people decide to trust us with their memories and cherished tales of their loved ones. It may be the first time a World War II veteran talked about his days on the battlefield or his brother who didn’t make it home.”

This special performance partners with the Northwell Health Foundation and proceeds benefit the Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and their Families (UHBC).

“The Northwell Foundation does a tremendous amount for our military, more than most people realize,” Engeman owner, Kevin O’Neill said. “Veterans are treated at the Northport VA, but the UBHC provides care for the families that are suffering along with them, while that veteran is making his or her adjustment back to life as they knew prior to them being deployed.”

The American Bombshells performance at Engeman Theater is June 17. Purchase tickets at EngemanTheater.com or call 631-261-2900.

Musician, Storyteller, Bill Scorzari Hits The Road

Bill Scorzari had a successful career as an attorney in New York City. These days you can find the Huntington-based musician on the road performing his original music.

Bill Scorzari had a successful career as an attorney in New York City. These days you can find the Huntington-based musician on the road performing his original music.

By Jim Kelly
jkelly@longislandergroup.com

Bill Scorzari is a performer, song writer and storyteller. Born in Flushing, Queens, Bill’s family moved to Huntington when Bill was 1 year old. Scorzari started playing the guitar at the age of 8 and started writing music while still in grade school. By junior high, he had played his first gig at age 13.

As the son of a preeminent New York trial attorney, Scorzari also became an attorney in New York City in 1989 and for almost 30 years led a successful law practice. During that time, he formed a band, Blue Sky Reign, which has appeared in the Founders Room at the Paramount and other live venues. The band performed at many fundraising events for groups such as Blue Star Moms and for the Outreach Program for St. Patrick’s Church in Huntington.

Bill said he really sings Americana music which is a combination of folk, country, bluegrass, blues, and storytelling. In 2011 Scorzari released his solo album Just the Same. John Platt of WFUV stated “Bill Scorzari has a lived-in voice that says, ‘Listen to these songs.’ They spring from the earth and the ocean with an open heart and the wisdom of experience.”

His second album, Through These Waves, was released in 2017 and Bill decided to do a national tour. The album jumped straight to number 1 on the Americana Music Association’s Most-Added-Radio-Stations Top-50 chart. It later also landed on many Top-Albums-of-2017 lists, including Folk Alley and Elmore magazine.

Bill has played with man notables such as Joachim Cooder (Ry Cooder’s son), Chris Scruggs (Earl Scruggs’ grandson), and Kim Richey. Eamon McLaughlin, who was nominated for best instrumentalist by the Americana Music Association, played the fiddle on his second and third albums.

On his 2017 tour, Bill travelled cross-country putting over 10,000 miles on his car. Through it all, Bill has been really impressed by seeing the different regions and nature’s beauty, as well as meeting really wonderful people and hearing their stories of their incredible lives. He had occasion to meet Charlie Hall in Colorado. Charlie was one of the founders of the Black Rose Acoustic Society, a music organization based in Colorado Springs that has regular performances in Black Forest as well as classes and jam sessions in Colorado Springs. He was also part of the bluegrass/folk/swing band Black Rose which made two albums, one as a trio and the other as a quintet. He then created the Prairie Como Band and had more success. Charlie also taught hundreds of people how to play guitar and mandolin. Sadly, Charlie was afflicted with a rare brain cancer, glioblastoma, the same disease that took John McCain’s life. While in Colorado, Bill had played with Charlie and was so moved by Charlie’s life and story that at Bill’s sold-out performance he donated a percentage of the sales to Charlie and his family. Charlie was very moved and told Bill that in the past they would have gone out and celebrated with a big steak but because of his cancer Charlie wouldn’t taste it so right now they would just go out and buy a couple of Big Macs. Charlie died in December 2018.

Scorzari has 26 shows booked this year. He intends to get it up to 40.

Scorzari has 26 shows booked this year. He intends to get it up to 40.

Bill related a story that during his last trip, he was on a straight flat road in New Mexico and the GPS made an announcement “in the next 511 miles, make a left”. The next set of directions from the GPS was “in 386 miles make a left.” In all of the driving and miles, Bill said that he is amazed after seeing all of the green fields, dusty roads, dust devils, and oil rigs, how remarkably the scenery changes and how beautiful this country truly is.

His next big event will be in Newport, Rhode Island, on Friday July 26 at what Bill referred to as the Holy Grail of folk festivals – The Newport Folk Festival. He has been attending for eight years, but this year is a featured artist. The next tour will start in Newport and go through New England before crisscrossing the country ending up in California. He has 26 shows booked and intends to bring it up to 40 shows over a two-month period.

Now I’m Free is scheduled for release in early September 2019. If you have not heard Bill, go to his website, Billscorzari.com. If you want to follow Bill, he is on Instagram (billscorzari) and Facebook (Bill Scorzari).

New Hands Learn Old Art

St. Anthony’s High School freshman art student Matthew Meberg helped make a stained glass window that will be installed in the school’s chapel.

St. Anthony’s High School freshman art student Matthew Meberg helped make a stained glass window that will be installed in the school’s chapel.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

St. Anthony’s freshman Matthew Meberg had the opportunity to leave a lasting impression in the form of stained glass that will honor his family for years to come.

Meberg helped craft one of 39 stained glass windows that will adorn the school’s chapel, Our Lady of the Angels.

Art teacher Jennifer Baldwin-Schafer has worked on the windows for six years. She completed them this summer. Along the way she recruited Meberg to craft a window that honors his grandfather. It was a unique opportunity for him to learn a new medium.

“They are all cathedral glass painted, the same process that’s been used for hundreds of years,” Baldwin-Schafer said. “You paint with powdered glass then put it into a kiln.It is a very traditional art form.”

The chapel, in a courtyard on campus, is a center for religious services, special events, and student reflection. Baldwin-Schafer recalls witnessing students sitting and taking in the surroundings during free periods.

“It gives it an aura. It’s a bit magical because you end up with all this dancing light that goes through the windows,” Baldwin-Schafer said. “Throughout history stained glass has been put in to give a sense of awe and divine that inspires.”

Historically cathedrals in Europe have featured and recognized patrons, a tradition St. Anthony’s upholds. Baldwin-Schafer designed each window with inspiration from patron families and their history.

“Matthew’s family gave me a photo of his grandfather for inspiration. The saint in this particular window is Saint Olaf, and that ties to his family’s history,” Baldwin-Schafer said.

Saint Olaf’s face takes the form of Meberg’s grandfather, a fellow Norwegian. The saint holds a sword modeled after one that was found on Meberg’s family property in Norway.

Meberg is looking forward to his family seeing the finished piece when his brother graduates in the chapel this month.

Art teacher Jennifer Baldwin-Schafer and student Matthew Meberg work on the stained glass design. Each of the 39 custom windows pays tribute to the school’s patron families.

Art teacher Jennifer Baldwin-Schafer and student Matthew Meberg work on the stained glass design. Each of the 39 custom windows pays tribute to the school’s patron families.

 “My family is very excited for this, especially my grandfather,” Meberg said. “He saw the drawing, and that’s basically it. When he sees it he’ll be amazed.”

This is the first time Baldwin-Schafer has invited a student to assist in the process. She felt Meberg was up to the challenge. A standout in her honors art class, the freshman has a love for precision and realism.

“It requires you to have a steady hand and be meticulous, especially because it’s a one-shot deal or you have to erase it all by washing it off and starting all over,” Baldwin-Schafer said. “It’s not something that everybody can do.”

Baldwin-Schafer felt this was a “once-in-a-life opportunity” for Meberg who gave up his study hall every day to work on the window.

“It was such a new experience for me,” Meberg said. “I’ve never done anything like this.”

Meberg’s steady hands served him well when painting the trace line that outlines the entire design in black. He also crafted the symbolism on Saint Olaf’s chest and a medallion that incorporates his family’s symbol.

“If my kids go here they will always remember my grandfather,” Meberg said. “Then if their kids come here, it will pass on through generations and generations; remembrance of my grandfather and Saint Olaf.”

Game Tournament Coming To The Paramount

PARGameofFest_1.jpg

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Hold on to your controllers, the first ever “Game Of Fest” hits The Paramount in Huntington on Saturday, June 15.

This one-of-a-kind esports tournament and festival mash-up brings top gamers together to battle for video game victory. Challengers will go head to head playing three intense rounds of Super Smash Brothers Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch.

Game of Fest was created by Kris Renkewitz, a “video game veteran” with over 20 years in the industry. He hopes to make the entire day an “interactive experience” for competitors and spectators alike.

“It brings the gaming community together,” Renkewitz said. “You can play tournament games, engage with vendors, and there will be side tournaments. It’s not the standard one big tournament, as they usually are.”

Game of Fest will feature a DJ, game demos, side tournament for the game “Overwatch,” as well as bar refreshments and food. If Game of Fest reaches its cap of 512 players, it will be the largest gaming tournament in New York state.

“Many people believe video games are anti-social, but nowadays it’s quite the opposite,” Renkewitz said. “Everyone wants to get together and play.”

The Paramount will be a hub of activity, with 60 setups on the floor and four on stage. Start time is 11 a.m. and Renkewitz hopes the finals will be reached by 6 p.m. when all eyes will be on the final eight players.

“It’s a double elimination, which means if you lose once, then you go into the loser’s bracket and play again,” Renkewitz said. “You get a second chance, in case a fluke happens during your game, you get to redeem yourself.”

Stakes are high for Game of Fest with a total purse of $5,000. First place payout is $3,600, second is $1,000, and third is $400.

“You’re gonna have gamers who have never played in a tournament, going against the best players in the world,” Renkewitz said. “We actually do have the top five Smash players in the world showing up for this.”

Typically video game tournaments span several weeks and locations, making them inaccessible for the common player who doesn’t have the time or money to commit. Hosting it all in one day, Game of Fest attracts broader competition.

“You don’t have to rank to get in, just play one of the people on the tournament list and boom, you keep on playing until you die,” Renkewitz said.

“Any given day, anybody could beat anyone,” Renkewitz said. “If you play and win matches at home with your friends, there’s a chance you could win. You might not even play a pro, they could be knocked out by someone else. As long as you keep on winning against who you sit next to, you have the same shot of getting to the finals.”

Players can sign up to compete at smash.gg/tournament/smash-at-the-paramount. Use the promo code: LONGISLANDER to receive $10 off the tournament ticket. To go as a spectator visit paramountny.com/shows/game-on-festival.

A Conversation With Singer/Songwriter/Poet Jim Frazzitta

Singer, songwriter and poet Jim Frazzitta has resumed performing.

Singer, songwriter and poet Jim Frazzitta has resumed performing.

By Jim Kelly
jkelly@longislandergroup.com

Jim Frazzitta started writing songs when he as 10 years old and has not stopped.  He was born in Newburgh, New York, and his dad was in the military stationed at West Point.  Jim pointed out that he was actually baptized in the West Point Chapel.  The family then moved to Plainview, Long Island, and then to Dix Hills where he spent his childhood.  In 1990, Jim moved to his first solo apartment in Northport.

Frazzitta’s primary instrument is guitar, and he also plays the harmonica and performs vocals.  In his soul he is a poet.  Jim describes his work as folk and acoustic rock with a little country tinge.  While he always was interested in music, he did not start professionally playing and recording until the mid-1990s.  He was bit by the music bug when he was jamming with a friend, David Bartow, in 1989, however he did not play again with David until 1994.  They had such a great time jamming together that they decided to try and put some songs together and record them.  They would go to the Bartow home in Sea Cliff and have a big dinner, and after cleaning up the dishes they brought out the instruments.  Jim would play the classical steel guitar while Dave played a nylon stringed guitar.  They would refer to themselves as Nylon & Steel (N&S) and the name stuck.  They moved to the mud room in Jim’s house and recorded every Sunday.

In the beginning, they did many covers of bands that had influenced them in the past, such as the Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones.  N&S started going to open mic nights where they met other musicians and added them to the mix to create a larger band.  The band would set up in community halls where people would gather to listen and dance.  It was open to all ages and it soon became an extended family.  They referred to themselves as “Folk, Groove and Gathering.”  Conklin Barn became a favorite destination and they performed their 103rd show there last year.  The events have a loyal following and very positive listener participation.  When it started at the Conklin Barn, Jim said that they didn’t even have a restroom in the barn, you had to go over to the Conklin House and ask Bernice.  At about 10:45PM, Bernice would come and yell last call for the restroom, which was a very important last call.

Freazzitta recently released his fourth CD, :In the Arms of Destiny.”

Freazzitta recently released his fourth CD, :In the Arms of Destiny.”

Nylon & Steel went their separate ways in 2003.  They have had a few reunions but, in general, Jim performs these days as a solo artist with his friends and former band members joining him on stage from time to time.  The Gatherings evolved into “Folk, Groove and Café” with some featured guests who would play different sets.  They always had an open mic and have had over 200 performers on the bill over the years.  Acts came from across the country, as well as Canada.  Jim remembered that there was even one band from Japan (Robin’s Egg Blue).

In Jim’s performances, 70% is original music with one of the fan favorites being “All Roads Lead to Northport.”  The song got its start when Jim was dating a girl who had moved from Ohio to Northport and took a job in Deer Park.  On her first day, she was very confused on how to get home and somebody at work explained that there are two things you have to remember, first is that all roads are either East-West or North-South on the island, and the second is that all roads lead to Northport.  That stuck with Jim as a great line for a song.  But the words to the song did not come easily.  Five years later, when Jim was dating a different woman, he was waiting for her while she did some shopping and the words came to him in the car.  He debuted the song at a Sundays at 7 event run by Kate Kelly at the Northport Historical Society Museum.  The song became a very popular part of his performances.

Since acoustic music does not pay all of the bills, it was important that he become an entrepreneur, therefore being able to continue performing his music and writing poems.  He formed Northport Transport Corp., which is a private, reliable, car service that Jim started with the idea that if you give people personal service, are very loyal and dependable, get to know their likes and dislikes, drive safely and comfortably, then you will get great reviews and your business will grow.

Last year after 25 years of non-stop work in the music industry, Jim took a year off to expand Northport Transport Corp.  With his business now running well, Jim will be back performing three sets on Saturday, July 6 at the “American Celebration at ‘Idle Hour’” in Long Valley , New Jersey.  Jim has also released his fourth solo album titled “In the Arms of Destiny.”

If you want to know more about Jim and his music career, or just hear some great music, search “Jim Frazzitta” on Google.

Contest Winners Go From Chaos To Clean

The Madden family received a huge surprise from Clorox, after earning the title of America’s biggest mess makers. Children, Delaney, Reagan, and Theodore love their new playroom and have vowed to keep it clean.

The Madden family received a huge surprise from Clorox, after earning the title of America’s biggest mess makers. Children, Delaney, Reagan, and Theodore love their new playroom and have vowed to keep it clean.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

When Rob Madden posted a picture of the catastrophe his children had created in the bathroom sink, he never would have guessed it could lead to a major surprise for his family.

In search of America’s biggest mess makers, Clorox found the Madden family’s bathroom disaster, that children, Delaney, Reagan, and Theodore created with the help of a red bath bomb. As a Christmas present, from a relative of Jade, their mother, the kids took it upon themselves to play with their new toy.

“We saw the bathroom door was closed and walked in to all of them are making bubbles,” Madden said. “They had filled up the sink and were just splashing pink water all over the place.”

The sink, walls and floor were covered with soapy, pink water, a scene that would leave any parent shocked. As Rob took in the scene, he captured the moment on his phone and decided to share the messy moment on Instagram, hashtagging #messykids.

“When you walk in and see your kids doing that, you have two options,” Madden said. “You can be mad or you can laugh and save it for the Thanksgiving dinner table in 20 years.”

Months later, Clorox was looking to promote their new Ultra Clean Disinfecting Wipes and felt the Madden family deserved a space for the kids make a mess. With promises of a huge surprise, Clorox transformed the Madden’s basement into spectacular playroom.

“It was surreal, more than anything else,” Madden said. “They put mats down on the floor and built an entire playset, which was really nice.”

Jade and Rob Madden with the kids in their new — still clean — playroom.

Jade and Rob Madden with the kids in their new — still clean — playroom.

The Maddens were pleased to find the kids feel a sense of responsibility to keep the playroom in immaculate condition, with the help of a year supply of Clorox wipes.

“First day, my kids usually go to bed at 8 p.m. and they were down there until 10, asking if they could sleep down there,” Madden said.

A poster saying “Vacation Awaits” was the final surprise for Rob and Jade, who were given luggage and airline gift cards, allowing them to plan a trip for themselves. Both attended the U.S. Naval Academy and have been greatly impacted by 9/11 and wars overseas, losing family and classmates. Clorox wanted to ensure the entire family could benefit from the mess and Rob was delighted to share the playroom is the new spot for the kids’ playdates.

The original picture that captured Clorox’s attention of the Madden kids playing with a bath bomb in the bathroom sink.

The original picture that captured Clorox’s attention of the Madden kids playing with a bath bomb in the bathroom sink.

 “The kids own our house, they own every room,” Madden said. “We haven’t had company since 2013. Our dining room was the previous play room and it was a mess. What’s nice about this is, we’ve migrated their toys down to this room. Now, we might be able to get our dining room back and have company over.”

This transformation kicks off Clorox’s #UltraMess contest. They invite people to share moments of massive messes on Twitter, with a chance to win $10,000 and a year supply of Ultra Clean Disinfecting Wipes.

Whitman’s Words Live On

Huntington Station poet Billy Lamont, right, and collaborator Em Kruz stand before a mural at the Huntington railroad station that display Whitman’s words: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.”

Huntington Station poet Billy Lamont, right, and collaborator Em Kruz stand before a mural at the Huntington railroad station that display Whitman’s words: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.”

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The words of Walt Whitman take new life and his poetry gets a modern adaption in a poem music video, “Walt Whitman America” by Huntington Station poet Billy Lamont.

Lamont released the music video in time for Whitman’s Bicentennial birthday on May 31, as a tribute to one of America’s greatest writers and the values he stood for.

Born and raised locally, Lamont has always had a fascination with Whitman, spending a time at the Walt Whitman Birthplace not far from his own home. When Lamont learned that Whitman’s voice reciting his poem “America” had been captured on wax cylinder by Thomas Edison, he knew it would lead to something special.

“It felt like there was such a great energy with the timing for an idea I’ve had bouncing in my head for years,” Lamont said.

Lamont and Kruz filming at the Walt Whitman Birthplace.

Lamont and Kruz filming at the Walt Whitman Birthplace.

Many of Whitman’s pieces speak to future generations, calling on them to carry out his values of tolerance, dignity, hope and compassion for all. In the poem “Poets To Come,” Whitman asks future creators to “justify” him and concludes with, ‘Leaving it to you to prove and define it, Expecting the main things from you.’

“He spoke to people like me, poets and musicians, in this poem,” Lamont said. “He knew America was still being defined by us. I feel that living in Huntington Station, I have almost a duty or calling.”

While working on his music CD “Beyond Babylon,” Lamont experimented with the recording, mixing and altering it to fit the modern day. He saw Whitman as an innovator who would appreciate a contemporary approach.

“I wanted to be experimental,” Lamont said. “I thought what did Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones do? They made the blues electric with electric guitars. So I decided to use electric drums. When [collaborator] Em Kruz heard it, he was inspired by it and felt it was very roots mixed with electronic.”

Kruz, a recording artist from Brentwood, went down a blues-hip hop path that inspired Lamont to recite his own message to America. “It was my intention to not be in it, I wanted to do Walt Whitman justice and put him in the modern context,” Lamont said. “But in my heart, I was so passionate to speak to America today. What came out was, ‘America we need an intelligent heart and loving mind. Intelligence of the heart will light your mind.’” These simple lines carry a powerful message of loving fellow countrymen, something Whitman advocated in his poetry as well as in his own life.

“My heart is for the community and America, but also the system of the world,” Lamont said. “It felt like I was entering the spirit of Walt Whitman.”

“Walt Whitman America” was shot on location at the Walt Whitman Birthplace and around Huntington Station. Lamont was eager to shine a light on his community.

“Living in Huntington Station, there are so many awesome people that have lived here, including Whitman,” Lamont said. “I just hope this can inspire people and their imagination. Whitman saw America as ‘we the people’, he was a humanitarian. I hope people take this in to their own lives and community.”

“Walt Whitman America” by Billy Lamont can be viewed online at youtu.be/s0lvIb_XRnc.

EXPOsure Shows Off Photographers' Works

Mirrored Microcosm by Holly Gordon is among foto gallery members’ works on display in the show EXPOsure.

Mirrored Microcosm by Holly Gordon is among foto gallery members’ works on display in the show EXPOsure.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

As the oldest fine art photography gallery on Long Island, fotofoto has amassed professional photographers guided by independent focus and purpose. In celebration of its 16th anniversary, fotofoto presents “EXPOsure” through June 29. A title with dual meanings, it refers to photographers working with exposure and exposing the public to members’ talent.

“The camera is such a malleable tool,” public relations member Holly Gordon said. “When you know its capabilities, you can do anything. You have to have that vision and know there are many paths you can take.”

Fotofoto was opened in 2003 by photographers who wished to share their work and maintain control over their exhibitions.

“We know how to control the camera, but just because you know this, doesn’t mean you will create a work of art,” Gordon said. “We have a specific vision or purpose when we look at the world through our lenses. We have an idea and know exactly what we want to see.”

Gordon feels a photographer’s creativity is evolutionary, constantly shifting and changing based on the outside world and their internal feelings. When a photographer captures an image, they put a part of themselves into what is seen.

Untitled, by Bruce Cohen

Untitled, by Bruce Cohen

Each fotofoto member was given the opportunity to hang pieces that represent them. For this years’ “EXPOsure,” 11 artists will show everything from street photography to wildlife to abstract.

Gordon found hanging the exhibit was a work of an art in itself, with the pieces finding ways to flow and relate. “When visitors come in and see the work, they can read a little bit about each of us,” Gordon said. “What makes us tick and why we shoot the way we do. Every member has their own methodology. We’re not cookie cutter people. We march to our own drummer.”

Suspended Beauty, by Andrea M. Gordon

Suspended Beauty, by Andrea M. Gordon

Gordon chose to exhibit “Mirrored Microcosm,” a massive metal replication of a picture taken over ten years in Chicago. While standing under the shiny sculpture “Cloud Gate” by Anish Kapoor – known as “The Bean” – at Millennium Park Foundation, Gordon saw her viewfinder fill up with shapes and colors as like in a funhouse mirror. “The crazy thing is, I am in the reflections,” Gordon said.  “When you look at it, you will find certain figures stand out and are repeated four, five, six times. It’s all of these reverberating reflections.” The convex and concave twists of the sculpture allowed Gordon to capture what she calls a “frenetic way of life” as tourists snap their cameras without truly seeing what’s in front of them.

Bay at Dusk, by Aronda Xystris

Bay at Dusk, by Aronda Xystris

Her work and those of her fellow photographers will be on display at “EXPOsure.” Stop by and meet them at the public reception held on June 1, 5-7 p.m. at fotofoto gallery, 14 W. Carver St., Huntington.

NYPL Jumps Into Whitman Celebrations

New York Public Library joined the celebration of Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday with an exhibit devoted to the Huntington Station-born poet.

New York Public Library joined the celebration of Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday with an exhibit devoted to the Huntington Station-born poet.

By George Wallace
info@longislandergroup,com

One would reasonably predict that, it being the 200th anniversary of the birth of Walt Whitman, celebrations will be mounted across America and beyond this year -- to be sure, here in the town of Huntington, Whitman's birthplace and for decades a major center for promoting and celebrating his accomplishments.

And in fact, there are Whitman-related activities galore in 2019, including at least two major International celebrations centered at the Whitman birthplace in West Hills.

But for sheer numbers, it will be hard for any venue to match the reach of the current Whtiman exhibit at the main branch of the New York Public Library in Manhattan. The library's colorful and richly narrated Whitman show, entitled 'Walt Whitman: America's Poet," is drawing hundreds of visitors a day, according to organizers. By the end of its three-month run, that translates to hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens of the world learning anew (or for the first time) the wonders of America's Good Gray Poet.

“Some of the objects we have on view are the equivalent of Holy Grails of American literature,” says show organizer Michael Inman, curator of Rare Books at the NYPL.

Walt Whitman, ca. 1865, in an image captured by famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady   NYPL Photography Collection, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Walt Whitman, ca. 1865, in an image captured by famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady
NYPL Photography Collection, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

“There are some things in this show, that, just to lay eyes on them, is an exceptional experience.”

Inman, who said the show was years in the making, recently gave me a two-hour tour of the library's exhibition. Housed in the ‘jewel-box’ Wachenheim III Gallery, a compact room located just to the left of the first floor foyer – it is a testament to the detailed devotion that he applied to organizing the show. As visitors from far and wide streamed through, he stopped lovingly each step of the way to reveal details of the photographs, paintings, original manuscripts, first edition books, and ephemera he had gathered together to tell the story of Whitman (1819-1892), who at 200 years old remains one of America's most influential writers and a cultural icon.

“The years preceding Whitman's death would see his encompassing vision – a mix of earthly and cosmic, common and highbrow – (was) embraced and celebrated by readers throughout the world,” noted Inman. “And his advances in format and language, resulting from a distinctive American poetics, would prove formative for generations of writers, artists and thinkers.”

 

A letter Whitman wrote to his mother in 1866 during the time he was employed by the Attorney General’s office.  NYPL Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

A letter Whitman wrote to his mother in 1866 during the time he was employed by the Attorney General’s office. NYPL Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

The first portion of the show features some of the formative influences on Whitman's life, including vintage images of old Long Island, the Whitman birthplace, old Brooklyn, and New York City, where Whitman spent his early adulthood as a journalist. The second portion presents a first edition of Whitman's great Leaves of Grass, with its distinctive green and gold cover, and lettering made to resemble roots, branches, leaves and trunks of trees.

A third section focuses on the very important Civil War years, when Whitman served as a nurse in the war zones of the conflict, and as a government clerk in WashingtonDC. Of particular interest in this section is the letter of dismissal issued to Whitman when the Secretary of the Interior found a copy of Leaves of Grass on the poet's desk – a situation which contributed to Whitman's further elevation to a figure of cultural importance during his early adulthood.

An 1855 edition of Whitman’s  Leaves of Grass.

An 1855 edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

The exhibition continues with handwritten manuscripts by the Good Gray Poet, including his well regarded Passage to India and an annotated copy of Leaves of Grass which he used during his lecture tours.

And importantly, the final section includes Whitman's impact on his successors in literature and the arts – highlighting poets (Sandberg, Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, Frank O'Hara), musicians (Guthrie, Dylan, Springsteen), filmmakers (DW Griffith), and a host of others.

“Whitman declared ‘the proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it,’” said Inman. “By this standard or almost any other, he has proved himself.”

One look at the faces of the steady stream of visitors to the New York Public Library's evocative show is proof positive that old Walt's still doing so.

Walt Whitman: America's Poet, runs through August 30 at the New York Public Library in New York City. Visit nypl.org for more information.

Editor’s note: The author, George Wallace, is the first Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, and editor of Walt’s Corner for this publication.

Note: This article has been edited to reflect a change in exhibitions dates. The show has been extended to August 30.