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TBR News Media covers everything happening on the North Shore of Suffolk County from Cold Spring Harbor to Wading River.

Women’s EXPO returns to Middle Country Public Library for 15th year

Liz Carroll of Wild Lizzy’s with her staff, from left, Sue Nicola; Lynn DiCarlo; Libby Carroll and Camille Sena; not pictured, Samantha Luongo. Photo by Elizabeth Malafi

By Donna Newman

Has the news got you down? Are you worried about the state of our world? The Middle Country Library Foundation offers a “stop the world-I want to get off” event guaranteed to lift your spirits and recharge your batteries. “On Thursday, October 1, from 11 to 6, our Centereach building will once again be transformed into the bustling marketplace that is the Women’s EXPO. It’s one of my favorite days at the library,” said Elizabeth Malafi, coordinator of adult services and the Miller Business Resource Center at the Middle Country Public Library.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting our 15th annual Women’s EXPO,” added Library Director Sophia Serlis-McPhillips. “Each year, new and former vendors come together to celebrate and showcase their unique talents and embody the spirit of entrepreneurship and community. We’re very thankful to our many sponsors and volunteers who help us make this day possible.”

Intermingled with the shopping is a matchless opportunity for a diverse group of women to network, support and inspire each other. “I love doing the EXPO!” said Jena Turner, owner of Breathe in Port Jefferson. “Having worked in advertising 13 years, I know how important it is to get yourself out there. The EXPO is better than a full page ad!”

Tiana Le, owner of Le Fusion, is also excited to return this year. “The EXPO gave me an opportunity to showcase my products surrounded by amazing women entrepreneurs sharing their stories of struggle and triumph,” she said. “I sold out, got positive feedback and leads.” When interviewed, the common theme expressed by EXPO vendors is passion — and the discovery of the capacity to be successful doing something they love.

Since its inception in the year 2000, the Women’s EXPO has earned a loyal following. Attendance surpassed 2,400 last year for the 83 vendors. The event showcases female Long Island entrepreneurs: artisans, importers, designers and distributors of products such as jewelry, clothing, fine art, pottery, children’s items, culturally diverse crafts, fiber art, specialty food items, gift baskets, household goods, paper products and much more. Fitting its “harvest-themed” October time slot, the EXPO provides a veritable cornucopia of unique creations and gifts.

Admission to the EXPO is free. Lunch is available for purchase from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the EXPO Café, catered by Fifth Season Restaurant of Port Jefferson. Baked goods from Sweet Street will be sold from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The library is located at 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach. For a complete list of vendors, visit www.womensEXPOli.org/shop. For more information, call 631-585-9393, ext. 296.

Here are some of the women you’ll meet at this year’s EXPO:

Jena Turner realized a dream when she opened her shop on East Main Street in Port Jefferson Village in 2006. The previous year had brought a pair of tragedies. Her father, “an accomplished man [who] built everything from scratch – houses, boats, cars, and his last project – his airplane,” died during the plane’s inaugural flight. Seven months later, she lost her brother. An incident at work following the second loss propelled her into action to sign a lease. She had prepared herself for the business by becoming a Certified Yoga Teacher and studying Reiki (hands-on healing).

Jena Turner at her shop, Breathe, in Port Jefferson. Photo by Amber Sroka
Jena Turner at her shop, Breathe, in Port Jefferson. Photo by Amber Sroka

In tribute to her late father, Turner named the store “Breathe,” which summed up his philosophy of life. Given its stated mission “to help others understand their gifts and full potential,” Breathe is more than just a store, and Turner wears many hats: “I am the owner,” she said, “and with that, I am the buyer, the manager, the bookkeeper, the healer, the teacher, the reader, the unpacker, the shipper, the banker, and the cleaning lady!”

She stocks an assortment of jewelry, clothing, candles, home accessories, and spiritual items, and also offers meditation, yoga, reiki, psychic readings and other workshops. Visit www.breatheinspiringgifts.com for more information.

Liz Carroll spent her life serving others. She raised three children on her own while working for the Town of Oyster Bay in a succession of increasingly responsible jobs. “I’m holding on to my job for now,” she said, “as I’ve worked hard to be where I am, and still have children who depend on me.”

But when her children were in college, she began thinking. “I wanted to do something for myself that would be productive, something where I could earn extra money and, of course, something that makes people happy!”

Carroll turned her signature cookie, one she had always made for family and friends, into a gourmet cookie line and created “Wild Lizzy’s.” At first, the cookies sold via word-of-mouth, at street fairs and other events, and at a few specialty stores. Soon they began winning prestigious awards.

“I always offer samples,” said Carroll, “and the reaction is always ‘Oh, my God!’ So now I have an OMG bell. When you say it, you ring it!”

Last September, the bell attracted a customer with a link to QVC and plans are now underway to take Wild Lizzy’s to the TV shopping network. She ships nationwide, due to customer demand.

Visit her website at www.wildlizzys.com.

Jackie Maloney discovered her passion early and parlayed it into a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art. “One of the main reasons I chose MICA was their dedication to making sure artists could actually make careers with their degrees. In my degree program, we all took a class dedicated strictly to business, taught by a successful/working art rep.” She likes that she can live and work at the beach, yet have clients all over the world, that she can work for different ‘bosses’ while being her own boss.

Jackie Maloney with some of her artwork. Photo by Amber Sroka
Jackie Maloney with some of her artwork. Photo by Amber Sroka

In truth, the career she describes is her dream job. “Every day is different,” she said. “An average day in the studio, I could spend the morning painting the instructions for baking an apple pie, the afternoon Googling locations to complete a custom map for a wedding gift, and then finish the day unloading/loading my kiln. I get to travel all over and meet tons of people. Then I get to retreat into the peace of my quiet studio to create.” In addition to contract work for independent projects, she exhibits her art at outdoor arts and crafts fairs and has a shop in the online marketplace Etsy. Visit her website: www.jackiemaloney.com.

Tiana Le began a poem with the words, “We left during the fall of Saigon in 1975, blessed that we were alive.” Her family emigrated to the United States and eventually settled in Flushing. When it came time for Le to train for a career, her parents steered her toward information technology – a good job in great demand. She began a career in IT.

Tiana Le, owner of Le Fusion. Photo by Sal DiVincenzo
Tiana Le, owner of Le Fusion. Photo by Sal DiVincenzo

Later, her mother was diagnosed with cancer soon after retirement. “It was the hardest time of my life,” Le said, “caring for my Mom and watching her wither away. She was my top priority, and when she expired I needed time to recoup and recharge. I came out stronger, with a greater appreciation of life – and the emotional and physical freedom to pursue my passion.”

That passion is food as related to her Vietnamese heritage. In May 2014, she launched “Le Fusion,” thinking “Why not combine the best of both worlds? East and West!” Her menu items are healthy, handmade, all natural, and baked. “Vietnamese foods are light and refreshing, with exotic herbs,” she said, adding, “The French-influenced dishes are my all-time favorites.”

Her cuisine is created at the Stony Brook University Incubator in Calverton and marketed through the Port Jefferson Farmer’s Market, scheduled tastings at Whole Foods, and the Le Fusion website: www.lefusion.co.

Ward Melville's Lexi Reinhardt (No. 9) taps the ball into the cage off a feed from Kerri Thornton (No. 12) during the Patriots' 4-0 shutout of Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Ward Melville swarmed the field Tuesday and with an impressive passing performance gave Commack more than it could handle, blanking their opponent 4-0 on the road in Division I field hockey action.

The Patriots got to work three minutes in when sophomore Kerri Thornton hit the scoreboard first off an assist from fellow sophomore Kate Mulham, to take an early lead.

Ward Melville's Katie Mulham moves the ball down the field during the Patriots' 4-0 blanking of Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville’s Katie Mulham moves the ball down the field during the Patriots’ 4-0 blanking of Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

“I had a great insert from Kate Mulham,” Thornton said of the first goal of the game. “Our passing today was the best [we’ve had this season].”

Having lost to their Division I rival Sachem East on Saturday, the Patriots’ play was crisper, more deliberate, and they were faster to the ball than their opponents to bounce back and learn from their defeat.

“I think that coming off Saturday’s loss to Sachem East, today, we showed a lot of discipline,” said Ward Melville head coach Shannon Watson. “We were able to play at our level, the entire game.”

With 13:06 left in the first half, junior Kassidy Rogers-Healion passed the ball to freshman Lexi Reinhardt, who redirected the ball in the front of the cage for the score to put her team out front, 2-0.

At the 10-minute mark, Commack made an offense push, spending more time in front of the Patriots’ box, but Ward Melville senior goalkeeper Emily Hoey stood tall and extinguished the Cougars’ onslaught. She notched four saves on the afternoon.

Ward Melville wasn’t finished scoring, and a minute later, Reinhardt found the box again, this time, off an assist by Thornton, to help her team break out to a 3-0 lead.

“It was a fast break and the defender was on Kerri [Thornton],” Reinhardt said. “I was right in front of the goal and she passed it to me, and I just tapped it in.”

With just over four minutes left in the half, Commack’s Brooke Novello squared off against Hoey with a penalty shot at point-blank range, which Hoey was able to deflect, spoiling the Cougars’ best scoring opportunity of the afternoon.

Ward Melville's Kiera Alventosa air dribbles the ball during the Patriots' 4-0 win over Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville’s Kiera Alventosa air dribbles the ball during the Patriots’ 4-0 win over Commack on Sept. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

Reinhardt wasn’t done, and buried her hat trick goal early in the second half, to put the game away, 4-0.

“I got a great pass [from junior Hannah Lorenzen] and I just tapped it in,” Reinhardt said. “I had a lot of help today from my teammates.”

Watson said that junior Kiera Alventosa and senior Shawn Davenport held the midfield together, which was key to getting the ball up front.

“They both did a really nice job for us in the midfield this afternoon,” she said. “They made smart choices and they anchored the center of the field today.”

With the win, Ward Melville improves to 4-1, and will look to improve on that when the Patriots host Bay Shore on Friday. The opening face-off is scheduled for 4:15 p.m.

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Kings Park's Kayla Homeyer competes in a game against Huntington last season. File photo by Desirée Keegan

By Joe Galotti

The schedule makers did not do the Smithtown East girls’ soccer team any favors during their first month of the season. The Bulls are currently in the middle of a stretch in which they play four games in six days, and in their matchup against Kings Park on Tuesday afternoon, fatigue was certainly a factor.

After winning a physical and hard-fought game against crosstown rival Smithtown West on Monday, Smithtown East allowed the Kingsmen to dominate much of the play in Tuesday’s contest, but strong play in their own end and a 17-save performance by sophomore goalkeeper Cat Sheppard, allowed the Bulls to keep things close on the scoreboard, and ultimately, leave the field with a 1-1 draw.

Smithtown East head coach Bill Hamilton made the decision to give his regular starters limited playing time in the nonleague matchup. Despite that, he was pleased that his team was still able to avoid their first loss of the season.

“Given the fact that they had about 30 attempted shots in the game, I’m happy it came out as a tie,” Hamilton said. “I told the team today, at the beginning, that I don’t care about how the game goes, as long as we play hard. And they did.”

Kings Park head coach, Bryan LoPalo, also seemed satisfied with the way his team played in the match, despite the fact that his club failed to come away victorious.

“It was not the result we wanted, but the effort was outstanding,” LoPalo said. “I feel like we played our style of soccer and it was a good game.”

Most of the contest was played on the Bulls’ side of the field, with the Kingsmen preventing their opponent from breaking through the middle of the field. LoPalo highlighted the defensive efforts of seniors Shakila Sevanan and Francesca Timpone, and juniors Alexa Biegler and Kayla Homeyer in the game.

Kings Park controlled play through much of the first half, but still entered the intermission trailing 1-0. Sheppard’s strong play in net held the Kingsmen off the scoreboard, and sophomore midfielder Emma Heiser found the back of the net for the Bulls, to give her team the early advantage.

With just under 28 minutes remaining in the second half, Kings Park finally broke through.

A Genevieve Carpenter deflection, off a cross by teammate Selena Ubriaco, was too much for Sheppard to handle, and the ball found its way just over the goal line for the score.

“I just saw Selena coming down the line, and she crossed it, Carpenter said. “I was just trying to help make sure that it went in the goal, and it did. That ended up being a good result for us.”

Kings Park continued to put pressure on Smithtown East during the game’s final stretch, but Sheppard stood tall for the Bulls. The netminder made numerous big saves, including key late-game stops on golden opportunities by Carpenter and senior forward Noelle Perciballi.

“I kept focusing on the ball, and as we continued on, I was able to keep my head in the game,” Sheppard said. “I was a little tired from the game yesterday, but I wanted to get a good result here, and I knew I had to push through.”

Smithtown East continued on with their challenging stretch today, when they visit North Babylon at 4 p.m. Kings Park will also be back in action today, as they hit the road to face off against Deer Park at 6 p.m.

Wined and wanted

Suffolk County police and Crime Stoppers are offering a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information about a man who stole a bottle of alcohol from Hamlet Wines & Liquors in Setauket. Police said the man stole a nearly $1,700 bottle of Chateau Petrus wine on Sept. 12 around 5:35 p.m. Cops said the man took the bottle of wine and hid it in his pants before he fled the store on foot. The police seek the public’s help to identify and locate the man. If you have any information regarding the theft,call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. To see the video of the incident, visit www.youtube.com/scpdtv.

A gem of a thief

A 20-year-old man from Port Jefferson Station was arrested at his home on Concord Circle for grand larceny. Police arrested the man on Sept. 20 at 11:00 a.m. and said the man stole more than $50,000 in jewelry and cash on the evening of Aug. 15.

Out of line

Police pulled over a 20-year-old man from Stony Brook and charged him with driving while ability impaired. Cops said the man was under the influence of drugs while he drove a 1989 Ford southbound on Route 112 in Port Jefferson. Police arrested him at the scene on Sept. 18 around 1:20 a.m. after he failed to maintain his lane.

Late library stroll

On Sept. 18, at 11:15 p.m., police arrested a 26-year-old man from Port Jefferson Station and charged him with burglary. Police said on June 24 at 5:25 p.m., the man entered a staff-only room in Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station and stole a laptop.

Risky Rav4 ride

A 24-year-old girl from Miller Place was arrested at her home on Sept. 19 at 9:15 a.m. and charged her with operating a vehicle without permission. Police said the woman was operating a 2015 Rav4 without permission. Police didn’t disclose who the car belonged to.

A healthy heist

Around 9:10 a.m. on Sept. 19, at the 6th Precinct, police arrested a 43-year-old man from Lake Ronkonkoma and charged him with petit larceny. Cops said the man stole vitamins and dietary supplements from the CVS on Horseblock Road in Farmingville on July 5 at 12:30 p.m.

Gone with the grill

On Sept. 20, around 3:50 p.m., police arrested a 48-year-old man from Holtsville and charged him with petit larceny. The man was arrested at the 6th Precinct, for stealing a gas grill on June 14 around 1:00 a.m. from the Kmart on North Ocean Road in Farmingville.

Gimme some gas

Police charged a 28-year-old man from Centereach for driving while ability impaired on Sept. 17 at 1:20 a.m. Officers initially stopped the man for speeding down Nicolls Road in Stony Brook in a 2008 Nissan and discovered he was intoxicated.

DWAI disaster

A 48-year-old woman from Rocky Point was arrested and charged with driving while ability impaired. Police said on Sept. 18, the woman was driving under the influence of drugs when she got into a car crash with her 2014 Chevy Camaro on Route 25A in Port Jefferson. Police arrested the woman at around 10:08 p.m. at the scene.

Breaking and not entering

Police said between 2:00 and 9:15 a.m. on Sept. 17, an unknown person broke into the front driver’s side of a 2004 Honda Accord. The incident happened on Chestnut Street in Mount Sinai. Police said nothing was stolen from the car.

Handy house visit

Police said an unidentified person entered a residence on Radio Avenue in Miller Place through the backyard and stole a Bosch demolition hammer sometime between Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m. and Sept. 19 at 9:30 a.m.

Cash register raider

On Sept. 20, around 8:48 p.m., an unknown person entered the Carvel on Route 25A in Port Jefferson and reached over the cashier counter before taking money from the cash register. Police didn’t disclose the amount of money that was stolen.

A serious workout

Police said an assault took place outside the Planet Fitness on Route 25A in Rocky Point. On Sept. 18, around 12:47 a.m., a man told police he was punched and kicked several times by another man before the complainant fled the scene. Police said the complainant was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital to have his injuries tended to.

Partners in crime

Suffolk County police said a man and a woman stole cosmetics and clothes from the Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket on Sept. 19 at 1:30 p.m.

Shattered glass

Between Sept. 16 at 10:00 a.m. and Sept. 17 at 7:00 a.m., an unknown person broke the glass door of How How Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant on Nesconset Highway in Setauket. According to police, nothing was stolen.

Lexus lost change

On Sept. 19 at 12:48 a.m. on Cheryl Drive in East Shoreham, a man reported that an unidentified person entered his 2015 Lexus and stole cash from the car. Police didn’t say if the individual broke into the car or if the car was unlocked.

A daring steal

Police said on Sept. 16 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. an unknown person broke into a 2001 Ford and stole a driver’s license and Social Security card. The incident took place on Dare Road in Selden.

Walgreens wake-up

Around 1:00 a.m. on Sept. 20, an unidentified person stole cosmetics and razors from the Walgreens on Middle Country Road in Selden. The individual fled the store in a dark blue van.

A rocky night

On Sept. 19 around 7:05 p.m., someone threw a rock at a 2015 BMW near Route 347 in Stony Brook. Police said the rear passenger door was damaged.

Listening to the blues

A 35-year-old man from Bayshore was arrested for third degree criminal mischief on Sept. 20. He stole an Eclipse Pro 180 mp3 video player from Walmart in Smithtown according to police around 2 p.m. and was arrested at the store.

Not Ksmart at Kmart

On Sept. 18 a 40-year-old woman from Wyandanch and a 27-year-old woman from Medford stole assorted clothing from a Kmart in Commack according to police at 6:30 p.m. They were arrested on site and charged for petit larceny.

Sleepy in a Mitsubishi

A 24-year-old man from Nesconset was found passed out behind the wheel on Smithtown Blvd. at 1:10 a.m. on Sept. 16. He was inside a 2011 Mitsubishi and was transported to the 4th Precinct. He was charged with driving while ability impaired.

Pot bust

On Sept. 16 a 29-year-old woman from Selden was arrested for fifth degree criminal possession of marijuana. In the rear parking lot of 7-Eleven in Nesconset at 5:45 p.m., she was found in a 2007 Lincoln with marijuana and was arrested at the scene.

Why have one drug when you can have two drugs?

A 22-year-old man from Brentwood was arrested on Sept. 18 at the 2nd Precinct. He was found on the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Commack Road at 1:25 p.m. with marijuana and cocaine in his possession. He was charged with criminal possession of marijuana and third degree criminal possession of a narcotic drug.

Sandman take the wheel

Police arrested a 19-year-old woman from Commack on Sept. 17 after they observed her sleeping behind the wheel of a 2013 Honda Civic when her vehicle rolled forward into an unmarked unit car at 5:45 a.m. She was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Wild times on Wildwood Lane

A man reported that another man punched him in the face on Wildwood Lane in Smithtown at 9:45 p.m. on Sept. 19.

U-turn turns U-crazy

While making a U-turn on Sept. 19 due to construction, the driver was approached by a man who started yelling and calling him names, and then stuck his hand inside the car and threatened to punch the driver at Bowers Court in Smithtown at 2:40 p.m.

Raise the roof

Suffolk County police said a 41-year-old man and a 16-year-old man, both from Huntington, were arrested on Sept. 19 at 3:30 p.m. for opening the protective safety cover to the roof and gaining access at Walt Whitman mall in Huntington. They were both charged with third-degree criminal trespassing in an enclosed property.

Schoolyard blues

On Sept. 18, a 17-year-old man from East Northport was arrested at the 2nd Precinct and charged with petit larceny. Police said on Sept. 16 at 12:45 p.m., he stole cash out of someone’s purse at Northport High School.

Rocky car ride

A man told police that on Sept. 18 at 11:10 a.m. while making a right turn on Broadway in Huntington, he began to yell at a passerby on the street. The passerby then threw a rock at the man’s car and shattered the vehicle’s rear break light.

Bed theft and beyond

A 43-year-old woman from St. James was arrested at the 2nd Precinct on Sept. 18 for fourth-degree grand larceny. Police said on Aug. 16 at 3:30 p.m., she took a Bank of America credit card from someone’s purse at Bocu Salon in Commack and then used it to buy items at a Bed Bath and Beyond in Lake Grove.

Burglary and a buzz

A resident on Makamah Beach Road in Northport told police that someone broke into his or her house at 8 p.m. on Sept. 16 and stole a sound system, two PlayStation devices, four remotes and many bottles of wine and beer.

Can’t af-Ford anymore problems

A 47-year-old man from Huntington was arrested on Sept. 18 at 6:01 p.m. on Oakwood Road in Huntington Station and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08. He was stopped after police said witnesses said they saw him using a non-hands-free mobile device while driving a 1997 Ford. When police stopped him, they also found that he was driving without an interlock device in the car that he was required to be driving with due to previous DWI arrests. They also discovered he was driving while under the influence.

Ring the alarm

On Sept. 17, a 17-year-old woman from Huntington Station was arrested and charged with first-degree falsely reporting an incident after police said she pulled the fire alarm at Walt Whitman High School at 11 a.m.

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By Wendy Mercier

As summer fades into fall, many plants and flowers will continue to bloom until the first frost of winter. Annuals, such as geraniums, marigolds and begonias, can have an extended growing season with proper watering and pruning. Plants such as Montauk daisies, Black-Eyed Susans and hardy mums are just beginning to come into season, and are a sign that autumn is upon us.

The band Half Step, from left, Scott Bardolf, Joe Chirco, Matt Iselin, Cindy Lopez, Tom San Filippo and Craig Privett. Photo by Joel Werner

By Stacy Santini

“Walk me out in the mornin’ dew, my honey, Walk me out in the mornin’ dew today…….,” the ethereal voice rises and silence falls upon the crowd. A kinetic energy begins to weave itself into the scores of bodies riddled with goosebumps that sway from side to side; the forlorn melody coming from the stage reinforces a brotherhood that this community of listeners knows all too well. Fortunately for Grateful Dead-lovers this is not a recollection of an endearing concert moment, observing Jerry Garcia chant the song, “Morning Dew.” It is an accurate and recent depiction of the infamous voice of Long Islander Tom San Filippo and the band Half Step.

Half Step will be participating this weekend in another Rich Rivkin event on The Great Lawn at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport called Grateful Fest. Rivkin is the dynamic promoter of all things Grateful Dead on our island. He is an environmental consultant who soaked up the desire and need to keep up the 1960s peace, love and music movement. Many years ago, he passionately started to create “gatherings” at public parks for people to come, be together and enjoy local bands. Today, he is known as a cultural attaché for thousands of Long Island Deadheads, fusing art with live music, and holds full blown festivals at wondrous locations like The Vanderbilt.

On Sunday, bands such as Half Step will be joined by other Grateful Dead song masters like The Electrix, Reckoning and Unbroken Chain and play to droves of Dead aficionados. Perched on a hill, overlooking Northport Bay and the Long Island Sound, up to thirty visual artists will join them.

From the time San Filippo was a boy, growing up in an Italian family in Levittown, peering into the windows of the music store on the corner at the guitars for sale, he was drawn to all things artistic. Although an accomplished graphic artist today, it was music that grabbed his soul for good at an early age, and by seven, he had picked up his first guitar. Although his parents were traditional, they embraced the Beatles, and for Tom, that band’s influence would remain a mainstay throughout his prolific career. His first band, Galaxy, was formed with schoolmate Dave Diamond, of Zen Tricksters fame. In Dave’s basement, they would rehearse Beatles songs until their fingers bled. Tom recalls this time with childlike excitement, “There was no Internet, no digital anything, so in order to practice, we would have to play the record and slow it down by hand. It was a discovery of music, discovering this art form in a very pure way.”

In the infancy of San Filippo’s journey, he was a bass player, and not until Galaxy eventually morphed into The Mighty Underdogs did Tom take the lead with guitar and vocals. There was much discovery along the way and as musicians, San Filippo and his bandmates certainly paid their dues. He remembers how excited they were to play “Fun Day” at McDonald’s for free hamburgers. As they became more well known amongst their peers, they expanded their song repertoire from pure Beatles to include the Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and popular Grateful Dead tunes like “Truckin’” and were unofficially the house band for all community events.

There is no doubt that San Filippo enjoyed the notoriety and still does, he openly admits this, but his ear-to-ear grin when confessing is so warm and welcoming that it does not, in any way, come off as egocentric. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Tom San Filippo has a way of drawing people in; he is outrageously funny and has a rare sense of humility. He is impassioned about his career choice and the music that carries his daily routine and simply just wants to share it with the world. It is impossible not to like the guy.

“Songwriting flows through me. Notes and rifts effortlessly come to me; the lyrics take a little longer,” he says, when discussing his song writing, which began at age nine. There have been numerous bends in the road for San Filippo and the bands he was so fundamental in creating, and moments that certainly made time stand still for him. All part of his migration towards Half Step. Today, as Half Step plays to adoring crowds, he can still remember the moment while on tour as the opening act for Debbie Gibson, when the stage crew permitted The Underdogs to jam on the stage of an empty Radio City Music Hall prior to their sold-out Gibson show. “It was surreal to say the least. I looked around as we belted out songs like Bertha and said to myself, this is it, this is where I belong. I really believed that.”

After moving to Amityville with his soulmate and extremely supportive wife, Rose, band members in Half Step, reached out to Tom asking him to join, as proximity was now a friend. By this time, San Filippo was finally embracing Jerry Garcia’s style, something that had been attributed to him over and over again throughout the years. “I just got Jerry’s style and music; he has a very melodic approach and embraces the whole scale. It comes naturally to me.” To this day, he spends a good portion of his time studying Grateful Dead archives and all things Jerry, including his gear.

San Filippo joined a stellar group of extremely talented musicians when he acquiesced to be the front man for Half Step. “Playing and listening to the Dead is like having an extra chromosome, a special musical vocabulary — either you get it or you don’t,” Tom states. “And you want to be around people who speak the same language. With Half Step, I found that.”

Joining Scott Bardolf, Cindy Lopez, Craig Privett, Matt Iselin and Joe Chirco on stage would be an honor for any musician. They are all individually accomplished and when they come together, pure magic happens. Founding member, Scott Bardolf on rhythm guitar, willingly embraces the Bob Weir role and is sublime as his fingers meander across the fret board. Cindy Lopez beautifully spins jazz and blues around the Dead vocals when she sings and as a twenty-year veteran on the Long Island music scene, she complements her fellow band members perfectly. A natural bass player, Craig Privett gives credence to his instrument that would make Phil Lesh smile.

Having the opportunity to share the stage with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, keyboardist Matt Iselin has been playing piano since he was a small child, and his musical ability is apparent with every string vibration. Joe Chirco has manifested his current role as drummer from as early on as he can remember. Once the drummer for the Donna Jean Godchaux Band, the diversity of his percussion skill set is vast and his love for Grateful Dead music reigns supreme; his joy at being a part of Half Step is evident to all who see him play.

It is crucial to note that referring to Half Step as a cover band would be highly insulting. Often compared to Dark Star Orchestra, a hugely popular national band that also plays the music of The Grateful Dead, Half Step channels music from a legendary group and is integral to keeping that music alive. The quality of their musicianship can sometimes challenge even the actual work of the Grateful Dead themselves. There are so many layers to Dead music that there is plenty of room for bands like Half Step to delve deeper and deeper into its complexity.

There’s a reason people flock to Half Step venues, one you just might want to discover yourself. Half Step at The Vanderbilt Museum,this Sunday — be there.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will host the 4th annual Grateful Fest on Sunday, Sept. 27 from noon to 6:30 p.m. Rain date is Oct. 4. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic lunches. Tickets are $25 adults online, $35 at the door; $10 children ages 5 to 15; children under 5 free. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

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Steve McCoy and Suzanne Mason in a scene from ‘Sweeney Todd’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Sari Feldman, Franklin Inc.

By Stacy Santini

To experience “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” the musical currently running at Theater Three in Port Jefferson, is to once again enter the clever imagination of Creative Director Jeff Sanzel. It is bold, it is daring, it is courageous and it is uncomfortable, as it should be. With productions such as “Les Misérables” and “Oliver” in his repertoire, Sanzel is no stranger to challenging and enormous projects, and Sweeney Todd is no exception. He brings the darkness of this satire to light and as we watch, as grievous as the subject matter may be, we are entertained.

Although there have been numerous publications attempting to give honesty to the story with references to actual people, Sweeney Todd is an urban legend. The story is based on a vengeful London Fleet Street Barber in 1785 who slits the throats of his customers. Mrs. Lovett is his pie-making accomplice, and together they join forces to make mincemeat out of his victims, literally. The pies become all the rage and cannibalism commonplace to Lovett’s naïve patrons. Opening at New York’s Uris Theater in 1979, the musical has consistently won numerous Tonys, including Angela Lansbury for Best Actress and Len Cariou for Best Actor. The infamous Stephen Sondheim is responsible for the award-winning score.

As is always the case with Theater Three, the performances are astonishing, but there were several other stars in the room the evening of the premier that were not on stage. This production is visual perfection. From the set to the lighting to sound to the choreography, the team Sanzel assembled for this production created a true optic masterpiece. Scenic Designer, Randall Parsons; Lighting Designer, Robert W. Henderson Jr.; Sound Designer, Peter Casdia and Choreographer, Sari Feldman took this show to soaring heights. Whether it was the actors running up and falling down in the aisles or witnessing victims slide off the barber chair and down into morbid eternity, the viewers were captivated by the imagery.

The costumes, as created by Ronald Green III, are sublime. Green’s vision of black and gray hues with pops of white serves the energy of this production well. They were a marvel to look at. The haunting score is handled well by the orchestra and under the musical direction of Jack Kohl, complements the shocking scenes on stage.

There is no actor in the Theater Three family of thespians more suited for the role of Sweeney Todd than Steve McCoy. His initial appearance on stage is chilling and the connection to the character Hannibal Lector in the movie “The Silence of the Lambs” is uncanny. Right before our eyes, McCoy creates a monster on stage, a singing, maniacal murdering monster with a heart. Only McCoy can do that and he does.

Outside of McCoy, Suzanne Mason as Mrs. Lovett commands our attention every moment she is on stage, which is often. Mason plays this unsavory character with such likability that we completely forget that she is not only a murderer’s accomplice, but his manipulative business partner as well. She is charming almost to a fault, from her brilliant cockney accent to her empathetic gestures to her completely sociopathic consciousness, we are enthralled with her. Once again, Sanzel’s intuition when it comes to selecting actors is right on point.

Amanda Geraci plays Johanna, reinforcing that her superior vocal range can take on any role she assumes. Her ethereal voice is a welcome distraction to the comedic yet gloomy story line. Bryan Elsesser as her paramour, Anthony Hope, is delightful; his version of the song “Johanna” is standing ovation-worthy. John Hudson as the Baz Luhrman-type character, Italian Barber Pirelli, is also a surprise and perfectly apprehended. Robert Butterley gives new meaning to word “chauvinist,” as he plays the very dislikable Judge Turpin and, as always, veteran Linda May is the ultimate forlorn Beggar Woman. Honorable mention must be made of Andrew Gasparini as simpleton Tobias who does more than justice to this sympathy-invoking role.

Sweeney Todd might not be considered a musical for everyone, the subject matter coarse and offensive, but the irony is that, that is exactly the reason to see it. When a theater embraces a musical like Sweeney Todd in such a manner that it is enjoyable and appealing, purchasing a ticket should be instinctive. The value lies not so much in the story line, but in the performances and depiction of complex characters, which is done so well here.

There is an old saying that if you hang around the barber shop long enough, you will eventually get your haircut, in this case — your throat slit. Not sure you want to hang around Sweeney Todd too long, but it is sure worth a visit.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” through Oct. 24. Tickets range from $15 to $30. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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Smithtown celebrates its 350th anniversary with the unveiling of a new statue of founder Richard Smith. Photo by Eric Santiago

By Eric Santiago

Smithtown celebrated its 350th anniversary Saturday morning with the unveiling of a new statue– this time of the town’s legendary founder– Richard Smith.

Commissioned by the Smithtown-based Damianos Realty Group, the bronze sculpture joins the emblematic “Whisper the Bull” as the latest figure to immortalize the town’s history. The $300,000 statue stands outside of a Damianos-owned office building at the intersection of Main Street and Route 111.

“Here was a person who laid eyes on this land and said this is a great, great place,” Cristofer Damianos said. “It’s still true 350 years later.”

Local officials praised the Damianos’ efforts at a jam-packed ceremony on the building’s lawn.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said he was impressed with the attention that was drawn to the event.

“As you look at this crowd you are reminded with every glance how great of a town this is– that you all would be here on what is a beautiful Saturday morning” he said. “This is Smithtown.”

Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R) added that hoped Smith would approve of how the town has evolved over the last three centuries.

Smithtown celebrates its 350th anniversary with the unveiling of a new statue of founder Richard Smith. Photo by Eric Santiago
Smithtown celebrates its 350th anniversary with the unveiling of a new statue of founder Richard Smith. Photo by Eric Santiago

“I don’t know if [Richard] ‘Bull’ Smith could ever have imagined Smithtown as it is today,” he said. “I don’t imagine he would think some guy with an ‘O’ on the end of his name would be making a speech about him,” he said to laughs from the crowd. “But I hope Mr. Smith would pleased with our stewardship of Smithtown.”

According to legend, Smith was an English colonist settling in the new world when he made a pact with a group of Native Americans. He could keep whatever land he managed to circle in a day while riding his now-famous bull, Whisper. As the story goes, Smith set out on the longest day of the year in 1665 and covered the borders of modern day Smithtown.

Historians have since debunked the story, but the myth still an important part of the town’s culture.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) referenced it in his remarks at the ceremony.

“It’s nice to see the man who rode the bull getting his own statue, right here in Smithtown,” he said. Bellone added the event was “an incredible occasion for the community to come together and celebrate the founding of this great town.”

The real story behind Smithtown’s founding is more complicated.

According to Smithtown historian Brad Harris, the land that would become the town was originally owned by the Nissequogue Native Americans. Grand Sachem Wyandanch awarded the land to Englishman Lion Gardiner in 1659. Gardiner had helped return Wynandanch’s daughter, the princess, after she was kidnapped by the Narragansett Native Americans.

Meanwhile Smith was living with his family in nearby Setauket. According to Harris, Gardiner and Smith were friends, and when the Narragansett finally released the princess to Wyandanch, it was actually done at Smith’s house in Setauket. Then in 1663 Gardiner sold the Nissequogue lands to Smith.

Two years after this Smith had his claim to the land ratified by New York Governor Richard Nicolls. Nicolls then awarded Smith “The Nicolls Patent of 1665,” which solidified the claim. This is the document displayed in the statue’s left hand.

“So now you know the real story,” said Harris. “And I would just like to point out, it had nothing to do with bulls.”

 

Photos by Mark D’Angio and Victoria Espinoza

Cow Harbor Weekend kicked off this past Saturday, Sept. 19 in Northport with the Great Cow Harbor 10K Race. Hundreds participated, some dressed in costumes. The festivities continued on Sunday, Sept. 20 with the Cow Harbor Day Parade. Many floats included congratulations to Northport Village Police Chief Ric Bruckenthal, who is retiring on Sept. 26. Northport residents came out in large numbers, with many dogs in attendance as well, to celebrate Cow Harbor Day.

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By Bill Landon

The Northport football team briefly enjoyed a two-touchdown lead early in the game, and Sachem North may have came back to take the lead in the second quarter, but the Tigers wouldn’t let their homecoming game go that easily Saturday, and clawed their way back to pull out a come-from-behind victory, 29-22.

Northport hit the scoreboard first four minutes in when senior running back Rob Dosch went the distance for a 20-yard score, and senior wide receiver and kicker Ryan Tromblee split the uprights for a 7-0 lead.

“It was a great block — the play was designed to go up the middle,” Dosch said. “It started to the right, I cut back left; it was great blocking up front with a huge hole and just used some speed.”

Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers' 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers’ 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

On a play that was slow to develop, Dosch ran down the sideline and cut back inside to find the end zone, again. This time, it was a 29-yard play at the 3:44 mark. Tromblee nailed the kick, and helped the team edge ahead, 14-0.

After a slow start, Sachem North began to move the chains when senior quarterback David McCarthy, on a keeper, broke it outside for a long gain to the Tigers’ 16-yard line. To open the second quarter, the Flaming Arrows finished it when senior running back Steve Anacreon broke free for six points, and with the extra-point attempt successful, the team closed the gap, 14-7.

Sachem North, on their longest sustained drive of the game, marched down the field and capped it off with another six points, as Anacreon struck again to close within a point, 14-13.

The Flaming Arrows then turned lemons into lemonade on a bad snap on the extra-point attempt, when after the holder picked up the ball, he rolled to his right and found an open receiver in the end zone for the two-point conversion. Fortune smiled on Sachem North as the Flaming Arrows took their first lead of the game, 15-14.

With seven seconds left in the half, the Tigers attempted a field goal from the 28-yard line, only to have it blocked.

With the wind out of the south all afternoon, Sachem North kicked off with the wind on its back to open the second half. The ball almost sailed over the head of Northport’s senior kick returner and running back Enzo D’Angelo, who had to make a leaping, one-handed catch to field the ball at his team’s own 1-yard line.

Northport wide receiver John Tabert makes a diving catch in Northport's 29-22 homecoming win over Sachem North on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport wide receiver John Tabert makes a diving catch in Northport’s 29-22 homecoming win over Sachem North on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

It might have been wiser to let the ball carry into the end zone, but D’Angelo took off. The senior cut inside as he followed several blockers before breaking it to the outside, leaving would-be tacklers behind as he covered 99 yards for the touchdown run that helped the Tigers retake the lead.

“It was really my blockers that did the job for me,” D’Angelo said. “When I caught it I saw the open hole; it was the blockers up front, and I just ran through it.”

With the point after good, Northport edged ahead 21-15.

After a sustained drive, Sachem North marched deep into Tigers territory when Anacreon got the call. Again, he punched it in for the score three yards out to tie the game, 21-21. The Flaming Arrows split the pipes for the extra point and retook the lead, 22-21, to open the final quarter.

With just under six minutes left in the game, the Tigers pounded their way into field goal range. The kick just missed to the left, to leave Northport still down a point.

Northport’s defense made a critical stop with 3:23 left in the game, where the team held Sachem North to a three-and-out, forcing them to punt on fourth and 15. From the punt formation, the Flaming Arrows faked the kick, and the punter took off with the ball, gaining 14 yards — just one yard shy of the first down, but Northport took over on downs, and with excellent field position.

Northport quarterback Andrew Smith throws the ball over the middle in Northport's 29-22 homecoming win over Sachem North on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport quarterback Andrew Smith throws the ball over the middle in Northport’s 29-22 homecoming win over Sachem North on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

Northport senior quarterback Andrew Smith said his team got off to a slow start, but came on strong in the second half for the homecoming win.

“We really ran the ball well in the second half and everyone pushed today,” Smith said.

From the 29-yard line, Dosch went to work as he bowled his way up the middle to move the chains to the 14-yard line. Dosch got the call again as he punched through a hole up front and made his way into the end zone untouched for his third touchdown of the afternoon.

“The defense slanted to the hole that we were supposed to go to and my running back Dan Preston was my lead blocker,” Dosch said. “[Dan] recognized where they were, and there was one man [to beat] on the outside, and I just ran off his block.”

To make it a seven-point lead Northport, Smith went for two as he dropped back and rolled to his left. In a play that was slow to develop, senior tight end Kristian Gerken crossed to the left side of the end zone, and Smith spotted Gerken after checking for his primary receivers, as the two connected for the successful attempt.

“Our line held so I had plenty of time to throw,” Smith said.

Dosch said Smith threw a good ball, and pointed to Gerken as a strong receiver.

“Kristian Gerken is a big kid — kind of a Rob Gronkowski type — who just used his body, went up, made the catch,” he said. “[He’s got] great hands and that sealed it.”

Northport stretched their lead, 29-22, with 2:24 left.

With time running out, Sachem North, on its final offensive drive, did not go quietly. On a fourth and 20, the Flaming Arrows completed a pass over the middle, as the receiver turned upfield. The Tigers made the stop again, one yard short of the marker, and Northport took over on downs with 1:12 left in the game.

“Our kids just never give up — persevering, never feeling like we couldn’t do it, and we stayed right in there,” Northport head coach Kip Lukralle said. “We have confidence in each other and confidence in what we do, and that paid off today.”

Smith took three knees to run out the clock for a very sweet homecoming victory.

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