Arts & Entertainment

Symptoms of diverticular disease include lower abdominal pain and feeling bloated.
Fiber intake can affect results

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

Many patients say they have been diagnosed with diverticulitis, but this is a misnomer. Diverticulitis is actually a sequelae, or consequence, of diverticular disease. Diverticular disease is one of the most common maladies that affects us as we age. For instance, 10 percent of 40-year-olds are affected and, for those over the age of 60, more than 50 percent are affected (1).

The good news is that it is potentially preventable through modest lifestyle changes. My goal in writing this article is twofold: to explain simple ways to reduce your risk, while also debunking a myth that is pervasive — that fiber, or more specifically nuts and seeds, exacerbates the disease.

What is diverticular disease? It is a weakening of the lumen, or wall of the colon, resulting in the formation of pouches or out-pocketing referred to as diverticula. The cause of diverticula may be attributable to pressure from constipation. Its mildest form, diverticulosis may be asymptomatic. 

Symptoms of diverticular disease may include fever and abdominal pain, predominantly in the left lower quadrant in Western countries, or the right lower quadrant in Asian countries. It may need to be treated with antibiotics.

Diverticulitis affects 10 to 25 percent of those with diverticulosis. Diverticulitis is inflammation and infection, which may lead to a perforation of the bowel wall. If a rupture occurs, emergency surgery may be required.

Unfortunately, the incidence of diverticulitis is growing. Between 1998 and 2005, hospital admissions for acute diverticulitis increased 26 percent overall with a 73 percent increase in those between the ages of 18 and 44 (2).

Fiber, or more specifically nuts and seeds, does not exacerbate the disease.

How do you prevent diverticular disease and its complications? There are a number of modifiable risk factors, including fiber intake, weight and physical activity.

In terms of fiber, there was a prospective (forward-looking) study published online in the British Medical Journal that extolled the value of fiber in reducing the risk of diverticular disease (3). This was part of the EPIC trial, involving over 47,000 people living in Scotland and England. The study showed a 31 percent reduction in risk in those who were vegetarian. 

But more intriguing, participants who had the highest fiber intake saw a 41 percent reduction in diverticular disease. Those participants in the highest fiber group consumed >25.5 grams per day for women and >26.1 grams per day for men, whereas those in the lowest group consumed less than 14 grams per day. Though the difference in fiber between the two groups was small, the reduction in risk was substantial. 

Another study, which analyzed data from the Million Women Study, a large-scale, population-based prospective UK study of middle-aged women, confirmed the correlation between fiber intake and diverticular disease, and further analyzed the impact of different sources of fiber (4). The authors’ findings were that reduction in the risk of diverticular disease was greatest with high intake of cereal and fruit fiber.

Most Americans get <14 grams of fiber per day. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends daily fiber intake for those <50 years old of 25 grams for women and 38.5 grams for men. Interestingly, their recommendations are lower for those who are over 50 years old.

Can you imagine what the effect is when people get at least 40 grams of fiber per day? This is what I recommend for my patients. Some foods that contain the most fiber include nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. In a study in 2009, specifically those men who consumed the most nuts and popcorn saw a protective effect from diverticulitis (5).

Obesity plays a role, as well. In the large prospective male health professionals study, body mass index plays a significant role, as did waist circumference (6). Those who were obese (BMI >30 kg/m²) had a 78 percent increased risk of diverticulitis and a greater than threefold increased risk of a diverticular bleed compared to those who had a BMI in the normal range of <21 kg/m². For those whose waist circumference was in the highest group, they had a 56 percent increase risk of diverticulitis and a 96 percent increase risk of diverticular bleed. Thus, obesity puts patients at a much higher risk of the complications of diverticulosis.

Physical activity is also important for reducing the risk of diverticular disease, although the exact mechanism is not yet understood. Regardless, the results are impressive. In a large prospective study, those with the greatest amount of exercise were 37 percent less likely to have diverticular disease compared to those with the least amount (7). Jogging and running seemed to have the most benefit. When the authors combined exercise with fiber intake, there was a dramatic 256 percent reduction in risk of this disease. 

Thus, the prevention of diverticular disease is one based mostly on lifestyle modifications through diet and exercise.

References:

(1) Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2006;40:S108–S111. (2) Ann Surg. 2009;249(2):210. (3) BMJ. 2011; 343: d4131. (4) Gut. 2014 Sep; 63(9): 1450–1456. (5) AMA 2008; 300: 907-914. (6) Gastroenterology. 2009;136(1):115. (7) Gut. 1995;36(2):276.  

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Amari (plural of amaro), the Italian term for “bitters,” refers to distilled spirits containing an infusion of bittering “botanicals” such as herbs, roots or barks. Some of the many botanicals used include gentian, rhubarb, quinine, aniseed, saffron, peppermint, cloves, bitter orange and cinnamon. Bitters were originally produced to soothe and relax the stomach after meals and therefore are often referred to as “digestives.” They are also used as ingredients in some cocktails.

Aperire, a Latin word, that means to open, is the origin of the word apéritif — a beverage that usually “opens” lunch or dinner as a stimulant to the appetite. Most apéritifs have an initial sweet taste with a somewhat bitter aftertaste because of the use of quinine, a bitter compound that comes from the bark of the Cinchona tree. This slight bitterness whets the appetite and cleanses the palate.

Unfortunately, many consumers cringe at the bitter flavor of some amari, preferring sweeter beverages to run across their palates, while others look upon bitters as a “cult” or “rite of passage” beverage. There appears to be growing interest in this category, which can easily be shown by the vast number of articles and cocktails about bitters in the news.

Although Italy has the lion’s share of amari, we also find delectable offerings from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, the United States and many other countries. 

Here are some of my favorites from Italy:

Aperol (22 proof, Veneto): Luminous orange color. Made from an infusion of aromatic herbs, spices and roots, including bitter orange, gentian and rhubarb.

Averna (68 proof, Sicily): Dark brown with colalike aroma and bittersweet taste; hints of black pepper, cloves, licorice and vanilla.

Branca Menta (60 proof, Lombardy): Dark, red-brown color; bouquet and flavor of spearmint, chocolate, citrus, menthol and herbs.

Campari (48 proof, Lombardy): Ruby-red, bitter beverage; bouquet and taste of bitter orange, cherry and strawberry, with a bittersweet aftertaste.

Cynar (34 proof, Veneto): Brown color; bouquet and taste of almonds, herbs, honey and walnuts.

Fernet-Branca (80 proof, Lombardy): Dark brown, extremely bitter; contains more than 40 herbs and spices.

Ramazzotti (60 proof, Lombardy): Dark brown, bittersweet; made from 33 different herbs, roots and spices.

There is no one correct way to serve amari; they are great served “neat” (room temperature), refrigerator chilled or on the rocks. Each can be served as a tall drink, filled with sparkling mineral water (or sparkling wine) and garnished with a wedge of lemon, lime or even orange. A maraschino cherry on top may provide a finishing touch.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

Michael Schatz. Photo courtesy of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

By Daniel Dunaief

What if an enormous collection of Scrabble letters were spread out across the floor? What if several letters came together to form the word “victory”? Would that mean something? On its own, the word might be encouraging, depending on the context.

Genetic researchers are constantly looking at letters for the nucleotides adenine, guanine, cytosine and tyrosine, searching for combinations that might lead to health problems or, eventually, diseases like cancer.

For many of these diseases, seeing the equivalent of words like “cancer,” “victory” and “predisposition” are helpful, but they are missing a key element: context.

W. Richard McCombie

Michael Schatz, an adjunct associate professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory who is also the Bloomberg distinguished associate professor at Johns Hopkins, and W. Richard McCombie, a professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, use long-read sequencing technology developed by Pacific Biosciences to find genetic variants that short-read sequencing missed.

The two scientists recently teamed up to publish their work on the cover of the August issue of the journal Genome Research. They provided a highly detailed map of the structural variations in the genes of a breast cancer cell.

“This is one of many covers [of scientific journals] that we are pleased and proud of,” said Jonas Korlach, the chief scientific officer at Menlo Park, California-based Pacific Biosciences. 

“This is another example of how long-read sequencing can give you a more complete picture of the genome and allow researchers to get a more complete understanding of the underlying biology and here, specifically, that underlies the transition from a health to a cancer disease state,” he said.

Schatz and McCombie were able to see fine detail and the context for those specific sequences. They were able to see about 20,000 structural variations in the cancer genome. “It’s like using Google maps,” explained Schatz in a recent interview. “You can see the overall picture of the country and then you can see roads and zoom out.”

In the context of their genetics work, this means they could see large and small changes in the genome. Only about a quarter of the variants they found could be detected without long-read technology.

In breast cancer, scientists currently know about a family of genes that could be involved in the disease. At this point, however, they may be unaware of other variants that are in those genes. Schatz is hoping to develop more sensitive diagnostics to identify more women at risk.

People like actress and advocate Angelina Jolie have used their genetic screens to make informed decisions about their health care even before signs of any problems arise. Jolie had a double mastectomy after she learned she had the mutation in the BRCA1 gene that put her at an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer.

By studying the sequence of genes involved in breast cancer, researchers may be able to identify other people that are “at high risk based on their genetics,” Schatz said.

Knowing what’s in your genome can help people decide on potentially prophylactic treatments. 

When people discover that they have breast cancer, they typically choose a specific type of treatment, depending on the subtype of cancer.

“There’s a lot of interest to divide [the genetic subtypes] down into even finer detail,” said Schatz, adding, “There’s also interest in transferring those categories into other types of cancer, to give [patients] better treatments if and when the disease occurs.”

The reduced cost of sequencing has made these kinds of studies more feasible. In 2012, this study of the breast cancer genome would have cost about $100,000. To do this kind of research today costs closer to $10,000 and there’s even newer sequencing technology that promises to be even less expensive, he said.

Pacific Biosciences continues to see a reduction in the cost of its technology. The company plans to introduce a new chip next year that has an eightfold higher capacity, Korlach said.

Schatz said the long-term goal is to apply this technique to thousands of patients, which could help detect and understand genetic patterns. He and McCombie are following up on this research by looking at patients at Northwell Health.

In this work, Schatz’s group wrote software that helped decipher the code and the context for the genetic sequence.

“The instrument doesn’t know anything about genes or cancer,” he said. “It produces raw data. We write software that can take those sequences and compare them to the genome and look for patterns to evaluate what this raw data tells us.”

Schatz described McCombie, with whom he speaks every day or so, as his “perfect complement.” He suggested that McCombie was one of the world’s leaders on the experimental side, adding, “There’s a lot of artwork that goes into running the instruments. My lab doesn’t have that, but his lab does.”

Working with his team at CSHL and Johns Hopkins has presented Schatz with numerous opportunities for growth and advancement.

“Cold Spring Harbor is an internationally recognized institute for basic science, while Johns Hopkins is also an internationally recognized research hospital and university,” he explained. He’s living in the “best of both worlds,” which allows him to “tap into amazing people and resources and capacities.”

Korlach has known Schatz for at least a decade. He said he’s been “really impressed with his approach,” and that Schatz is “highly regarded by his peers and in the community.”

Schatz is also a “terrific mentor” who has helped guide the development of the careers of several of his former students, Korlach said.

Down the road, Schatz also hopes to explore the genetic signature that might lead to specific changes in a cancer, transforming it from an organ-specific disease into a metastatic condition.

A juvenile male common yellowthroat. Photo by Joe Kelly

By Joe Kelly

Those of you that view the work of other photographers may enjoy the photographs of birds without thinking very much about what goes into these shots. “A bird. On a branch. Pretty bird.” While these are correct and true observations, they don’t really capture what is actually involved in taking a photograph of a bird, or any wild animal for that matter. 

I’m not complaining or bemoaning my lot in life. In fact, I’m hoping that parts of this little essay will bring a smile to your face. Mix in some nature, a little humor and a dash of knowledge, bake for 30 minutes and maybe we’ll all get to enjoy some wild creatures and places. And maybe we, or our children, will try to preserve the recipe.

Okay, back to the premise at hand. I was talking about photographing birds before I went all philosophical there. It happens, get over it. Photographing birds is not as easy as one might think. First off, you have to find the bird. I know, I know: They’re everywhere, right? But they’re not. Not really. We all have robins or sparrows or blue jays or crows in our backyards. Or pigeons for you city dwellers. But if I or any other wildlife photographer just took pics of those guys, we wouldn’t generate much interest. People might get to thinking that they’d seen all there was to see and why seek for more? No one would want to preserve open spaces or parklands. They wouldn’t understand the why of it.

I did it again. I was talking about finding birds and I went all sideways with it. So, really, you have to find the bird. You need to go where the birds are, whether it’s a park, a river or wetlands, a seashore or wherever. Again, you need to go where the birds are. You’re not done yet. Even when you’re in the right place, you still need to find your quarry. It’s not like birds are lining up to meet you. 

I have friends that can find and identify birds by their calls. I am not so gifted. I have several CDs of bird calls but I find my retention for such recordings — or lack thereof — do not help me in the field. Also, I am mostly deaf in one ear so even if I could recognize a particular call, zeroing in on the location of a particular call is nigh on impossible. By the way, I can hardly believe I found an excuse to use the word “nigh” in a sentence.

Okay, so you’re in a right place and you’ve found a bird. You don’t always see it right off. Sometimes, it’s just a rustle among the branches or a disturbance in the flowers. But it’s a bird. It’s right there, maybe just a few feet away. You know it’s there. Maybe you can even hear it. But can you see it? Can you get a photograph? Is that bird sitting there, proud and dignified, waiting for you to take its picture? Most times, at least for me, the answers are no, no and no. Birds flit and fly from branch to branch and from tree to tree. It turns out that the darn things have wings.

But sometimes, those sweet wonderful sometimes, you get lucky. The bird peeks out from the foliage or the flowers and is right there. All you need to do then is put it in focus. And that is an entirely different conversation. 

A resident of Stony Brook, Joe Kelly is the official photographer of the Four Harbors Audubon Society. Visit his blog at www.joekayaker.com.

RED DARLING

Mimi Hodges of Sound Beach snapped this gorgeous photo of a garden with a red hibiscus plant in the foreground on July 31 using an Olympus OM-D E-M1. She writes, “This was in the beautiful backyard of dear friends and neighbors.” Hibiscus plants are known for their large, colorful flowers but they also have medicinal uses. The flowers and leaves and calyces (pods that hold the seeds) can be made into teas and liquid extracts that can help treat a variety of conditions.

Send your Photo of the Week to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com.

'Gamecock Cottage Stony Brook' by Linda Ann Catucci

By Heidi Sutton

‘Off Duty’ by Robert Roehrig

The lazy days of summer are finally upon us, a perfect time to drop by the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s Mills Pond Gallery to check out its annual juried summer exhibition, Capturing the Spirit of Long Island.

“So many Long Island painters find creative inspiration from the local landscape,” explained  STAC’s Executive Director Allison Cruz in a recent email. “Each brings an individual style and vision to their work so each exhibit is unique. Our Island provides endless possibilities for artistic compositions. I always look forward to seeing what hidden treasures the artists uncover!”

According to Cruz, artists were invited to share their artistic vision of any of Long Island’s four seasons and submit art depicting the characteristics of its landscape, weather, wildlife or activities associated with winter, spring, summer or fall. A total of 49 works by 32 artists were accepted into the show and feature a variety of media including watercolor, gouache, oil acrylic, pastel and colored pencil.

‘Cupsogue Coast’ by Adriann Valiquette

The beautiful exhibit fills four gallery rooms and the center hall gallery on the first floor of the historic 1838 Greek Revival mansion.

“I am always amazed by the unique work received for our Long Island exhibits and I have never been disappointed. And what is so wonderful is that each year we have new artists as well. Each show gives us an opportunity to see some new local talent and each year local artists step up with new work,” said Cruz. “We never exhibit the same piece more than once here at the gallery anyway,” she added.

Exhibiting artists include Ross Barbera (Ronkonkoma), Melanie Berardicelli (West Islip), Renee Blank (Holbrook), Renee Caine (Holtsville), Linda Ann Catucci (St. James), Donna Corvi (Flushing), Julie Doczi (Port Jefferson Station), Liz Fusco (Kings Park), Maureen Ginipro (Smithtown), David Jaycox Jr. (Northport), Anne Katz (Stony Brook), Kathee Shaff Kelson (Stony Brook), Jim Kelson (Stony Brook), Lynn Kinsella (Brookhaven), Mary Lor (New York), Joan Rockwell (Stony Brook), Robert Roehrig (East Setauket), Lori Scarlatos (St. James), Gisela Skoglund (Kings Park), Irene Tetrault (Westbury), Adriann Valiquette (Ridge), Mary Ann Vetter (St. James), Nancy Weeks (East Setauket) and Patty Yantz (Setauket).

‘Two Artists Intense Focus’ by David Jaycox Jr.

The executive director is excited to show off this new exhibit. “This is an opportunity to discover or maybe rediscover Long Island,” she said, adding, “viewers will see so much beauty and variety of our island … and sometimes seeing it through someone else’s eye can put you in touch with new places or new ideas you will be inspired to explore.”

The community is invited to an opening reception on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. to meet the artists and view their work. The winners will be announced at that time. 

The Mills Pond Gallery, located at 660 Route 25A, St. James, will present the Smithtown Township Arts Council’s juried summer exhibition through Sept. 9. The gallery is open Wednesdays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.millspondgallery.org. 

Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter

MEET PITA!

This handsome ball of fluff is Pita, a domestic long-hair adult cat waiting at Kent Animal Shelter for his furever home.  A staff favorite, this feisty feline has paws of gold and a sweet disposition. Pita loves to sleep in the sunny spots on the screened-in porch at the shelter and will fight any toy that crosses his path. He promises to be your furry partner in crime and a snuggle buddy on cold rainy days. Pita is looking for someone he can give all his love and affection to. Could that be you? Pita comes neutered, microchipped and as up to date as possible on vaccines.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. For more information on Pita and other adoptable pets at Kent, visit www.kentanimalshelter.com or call 631-727-5731. 

Update: Pita has been adopted!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Frosting and Sprinkles

By Barbara Beltrami

When the kids get tired of their tablets and cellphones (lol), when it’s so hot that everybody is fighting to get in front of the AC vents, or when summer vacation is past the halfway mark and boredom sets in, it’s cupcakes to the rescue. Easy and user friendly, the following basic recipes for cupcakes and their frostings leave lots of room for creativity.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Butter Frosting topped with Chocolate Sprinkles

YIELD: Makes 12 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

One stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1¾ cups sifted cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Fill 12 muffin cups with paper liners. With electric mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and add alternately with the milk to the butter mixture; do not overbeat. Stir in vanilla. Fill muffin cups ⅔ full and bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden and pulling away slightly from sides of pan. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. When cool, top with frosting of choice. Serve with chocolate milk or lemonade.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Frosting topped with Pink Sprinkles

YIELD: Makes 24 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup cocoa

1 cup hot water

1⅔ cups flour

1½ cups sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup soft unsalted butter

2 eggs

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Mix cocoa and water until smooth; let cool. Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter and cocoa mixture; scraping sides of bowl frequently, beat two minutes on medium speed of mixer. Add eggs and beat two more minutes. Fill muffin cups half full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from muffin tin and cool on wire rack. Frost as desired. Serve with milk or orangeade.

Vanilla Butter Frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Frosting topped with Confetti Sprinkles

YIELD: Makes enough for 12 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup soft unsalted butter

3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

3 tablespoons cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Blend butter and sugar together; stir in cream and vanilla till smooth.

Chocolate Butter Frosting

Make vanilla frosting but stir in three squares unsweetened chocolate, melted, into blended mixture.

Orange or Lemon Frosting

Make vanilla butter frosting but omit vanilla and replace cream with same amount of orange or lemon juice.

ON TOP OF THE WORLD: Zachary Podair with the cast of 'Newsies'

By Melissa Arnold

Zachary Podair

Zachary Podair of Smithtown will have some great “What I Did This Summer” stories to share when he heads to middle school next month. The 11-year-old is spending almost every day onstage at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, where he is the youngest member in the cast of “Newsies.” 

The show is loosely based on the Newsboys Strike of 1899, where New York City paperboys organized a union and went on strike to be treated fairly on the job. Zachary plays the part of Les, who wants to help his older brother support their struggling family. His character is lovable and funny, providing some bright comic relief for the show. I recently spoke with Zachary about his professional theater debut, what it’s like being the youngest on the set and more.

What got you interested in acting?

When I was 6 years old, my sister was taking dance lessons and we would always go to pick her up. I really liked watching and decided I wanted to dance, too, so my mom put me in hip-hop classes. I love anything that involves dancing, so I started looking for shows that had a lot of dance numbers.

Have you been in any other shows?

My first show was four years ago, at the Encore Theater. I got to play [the title role in] “Aladdin.” And ever since then I try to do as many shows as I can. I was Rooster in “Annie,” Donkey in “Shrek,” and Charlie in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” 

What made you want to audition for ‘Newsies?’ Were you nervous?

My favorite kind of shows are dance-heavy, and I knew that “Newsies” was one. I had seen the movie before and thought that I would try out. It also has a really great musical score.

I wasn’t really nervous about it. I didn’t necessarily think I would get the part, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. I was really surprised when I heard I was cast. They originally said they were going to double cast the part of Les, [meaning two actors would take turns playing the role], but they ended up just casting me by myself. That was really exciting.

What is it like being the youngest person in the cast?

Sometimes it’s different being the only person around my age, but everyone in the cast and the crew has been so sweet to me. I’ve learned so much from being in professional theater. Every person I’ve worked with has taught me something, from the casting agency to the other actors, the director and other crew. I’ve also improved my dancing so much from working with our amazing choreographer [Sandalio Alvarez].

Zachary Podair, right, in a scene from ‘Newsies’

What do you like about your character?

Les and I are so much alike. He’s just a funny guy. I love playing him because he’s got a lot of great dance scenes and he’s also the comic relief in a lot of ways. I love the one-liners. 

What has acting taught you about life?

So, so much. I’ve learned how important it is to be flexible — emotionally and physically. You have to be spontaneous, to be willing to go with anything. And, of course, you have to learn how to deal with rejection. You’re not going to get every part and not everyone is going to love you.

What would you say to other kids (or adults!) who want to try acting but are nervous?

Definitely don’t be afraid to try it! If you don’t get a part, then you have the experience of auditioning and you can learn from that. If you want, you can try again. And if you do get the part, then you get to have an amazing experience. Either way it’s a positive thing and so much fun to be a part of.

Why should people go see “Newsies?”

It’s one of those shows that has something for everyone, no matter who you are or how old you are. There are things the kids like and things the adults will laugh at. And I think it’s interesting because it’s based on true events — we worked really hard to make our version of the show as realistic as possible. It’s a positive show that will make you feel good.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time at the Engeman so far? 

So far, the best moment was the first day that we got to see the set all finished. It was so amazing. I think that was the moment it all really hit me. I thought, “This is real. It’s really happening.” It’s the best feeling.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Newsies” through Sept. 2. Tickets range from $73 to $78. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

All photos by Michael DeCristofaro

Burt Block, David Amram, Tom Manuel and jazz vibraphonist Harry Sheppard at last year’s festival. Photo from Tom Manuel

By Sabrina Petroski

Calling all jazz lovers! The Harbor Jazz Festival returns for its fifth year of smooth sounds from Aug. 15 to 19. Held at The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook, the festival is a fun way for music fans to celebrate jazz while surrounded by treasures of the past. 

“What’s unique about our festival is that it has a vintage, or retro, feel,” said Tom Manuel, the curator and owner of The Jazz Loft in an interview last Monday. “What’s really exciting is we have over 12 performers and they are some of the top internationally and nationally recognized talents,” he said.

Dan Pugach and his band will perform at this year’s Harbor Jazz Festival. Photo from Dan Pugach

Each night offers new acts to enjoy, with food and drinks available at the bar. The opening night ceremonies on Wednesday include The Art of Jazz: The Jazz Loft Trio with the Atelier Artists, as well as a special VIP Reception and Art Gallery opening at 7 p.m., showcasing the art of Frank Davis ($75). 

On Thursday, Israeli drummer and composer, Dan Pugach and his nine-piece ensemble will take to the stage at 7 p.m. with their original jazz music, as well as some covers of famous songs like “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. 

“This is our first time playing at the Harbor Jazz Festival, and our second time playing at the loft. I love interacting with the audience, and meeting new people,” said Pugach in a recent phone interview. “It always fascinates me that people will go out and sit through a concert when they don’t know the artist and don’t know what to expect, but they’re just right there with you. It’s all about the music.”

The Matt Wilson Quartet will kick off Friday evening at the loft at 7 p.m. With the group’s improvisational style, known to challenge and entertain audiences, it will be a night of upbeat jazz tunes to remember. 

On Saturday there will be an all-day event, starting at 11 a.m. in front of the Stony Brook Post office. The Interplay Jazz Orchestra will start off the morning with its original compositions and arrangements written by members of the band. Following this will be the Warren Chiasson Quartet at 1:30 p.m. led by Chiasson himself, who has been regarded as “one of the six top vibraphonists of the last half century” by the New York Times. Next up will be the Nicki Parrott Quartet, featuring Houston Person at 4 p.m., Frank Vignola and his Hot Guitar Trio at 6:30 p.m. and the Bill Charlap and Warren Vache Duo at 9 p.m. There will also be a free children’s Instrument Petting Zoo at 1:30 p.m.

Steve Salerno performs at a previous festival. Photo from Tom Manuel

“The whole festival is a throwback to the old states of jazz festivals,” said Manuel. “When you come to the loft and walk through it, it doesn’t feel like every other museum. It has that charm that’s unique to the village, so when we were going outdoors we were trying to still maintain the same feel that people have at the loft.”

On Sunday, Mark Devine and Tom Manuel will perform at noon, followed by the Stony Brook Roots Ensemble at 3 p.m. To close the festival, The Jazz Loft Big Band will have a free concert in front of the Stony Brook Post Office facing the Village Green at 7 p.m. 

The business community will also be involved in the festivities, with special jazz-themed dinner menus and dishes being served at local restaurants including Fratelli’s, Sweet Mama’s and the Three Village Inn. There will be merchandise and vintage items available for sale at the Village Green on Saturday, as well as food and drinks. 

“[The Jazz Loft] is a very special place, especially because of where it’s located; it’s not on a busy street in the middle of the village. It is becoming a desired place for musicians to go and play, because everybody knows that the vibe is great,” said Pugach. “This is a spot where music lovers go to listen to great music.”

Individual concert tickets are $30 adults, $25 seniors and $20 students. Day passes are available for Saturday ($135 adults, $110 seniors and $85 students) and Sunday ($50 adults, $40 seniors and $30 students). The full festival pass (Wednesday through Sunday) is $250 for adults, $205 for seniors and $180 for students. Opening night reception tickets can be added on to other ticket purchases for a discounted price of $50. For more information or to find out about sponsorship and underwriting opportunities, call 631-751-1895 or email stmanuel@thejazzloft.org.

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