Music

Pure Led in concert

Led Zeppelin tribute band, Pure Led, will return to the Vanderbilt Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport for a concert on Sunday, July 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Playlist will include “The Song Remains the Same,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Whole Lotta Love” and more. Tickets are $20 adults online, $25 at the door; $15 children ages 5 to 15; under age 5 free. For more information, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

By Kyle Barr

It is a real testament to the late, great Freddie Mercury and the band Queen that their songs sit so squarely in the public zeitgeist. “We Are the Champions” is still the go-to sports song for anybody’s home team, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” is that one song that, when played 50 times on a road trip, still never gets old.

It also means that the show “We Will Rock You,” which held its Northeastern regional premiere opening at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts on July 7, really needed to encapsulate just what Mercury and Queen meant to culture just before the turn of the century. Thankfully, the talented 18-member cast at SPAC managed to pull it off with ease.

With book by Ben Elton, the story takes place 300 years in the future in a vague dystopian world where all music but that which is produced by the corporation is banned. All those living on the iPlanet, as it is called, exist under the thumb of the Globalsoft Corporation, headed by the stiff-necked Khashoggi (Dylan Bivings) and the raucous Killer Queen (the-great-as-always Brianne Boyd). Two young rebels, Galileo (Andrew Murano) and Scaramouche (Danielle Nigro) are captured by Globalsoft right out of high school for being too out of the mainstream. This leads them on a quest to find the rebels called The Bohemians and then to find the true meaning of rock and roll and set the world free.

Featuring more than 20 hit Queen songs, the show is accompanied by a live band, with Melissa and Craig Coyle on keyboard, Chad Goodstein and Mike Lawshé on guitar, Rob Curry on bass and Jim Waddell on drums. At first it’s hard to tell from where the band is playing. They are not on stage, nor on the balcony. It is well worth staying until the end to see exactly where these band members were cleverly hid.

Tim Golebiewski, who directed last year’s very fine production of “Young Frankenstein,” returns this year to showcase his talents for stimulating musical sequences and cutting humor. This time the stage is set with what appears to be a very simple layout, just a two-level affair with a white screen hanging above it all. Yet this display holds more than a few surprises. 

Golebiewski and Chris Creevy, the head of lighting design, must have had a lot of fun setting up the LED lights all around the stage, whose multiple colors coordinate with a projector screen behind the stage. Every musical performance has a corresponding color and video that plays in time to the music. It’s a surprising sensation seeing the performance and video, like attending both a musical and rock concert all at once.

Danielle Nigro and Andrew Murano in a scene from the show

In a production such as this, where the story is not much more than a vehicle to get to the next Queen song, the vocal quality is probably the biggest selling point and the cast is very much up to the task. 

Nigro does a great job with the punk-styled, quick-mouthed Scaramouche, and she is great both in lead vocals in songs like “Somebody to Love” and in chorus in songs like “Under Pressure.” Mark Maurice, as Brit, and Courtney Braun, as Oz, are both absolutely hilarious, especially with Maurice’s random bouts of martial arts. Their duet on “I Want It All” is fun and energetic. Terrific in last year’s SPAC performance of “Man of La Mancha,” Boyd  pulls out all the stops with her usual considerable stage presence. She’s a perfect fit for the part of Killer Queen, especially with such loud and sometimes racy renditions of “Play the Game” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.”

If you have even a passing interest in Queen, Freddie Mercury or rock in general, then this is a great night outing to rekindle that old rebel rocker spirit.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown will present “We Will Rock You” through Aug. 19. Parental discretion is advised. Tickets range from $25 to $38. For more information, visit www.smithtownpac.org or call 631-724-3700.

Photos courtesy of SPAC

Rock Candy, front row, from left, Hayden Curry (drums) and Giuliana Gallone (vocals/guitar); back row, from left, Matt Astronovich (vocals), Daniel Heuertas (guitar), Jake Divillio (bass) and Luca Illonardi (keys/vocal). Photo courtesy of RNRU

Hauppauge-based music school Rock-n-Roll U (RNRU) saw its teen student band, Rock Candy, kick off the Smithtown Library Summer Concert Series on July 5 by opening for renowned Tom Petty & Fleetwood Mac tribute band, Petty Rumours. The concert was held at the Smithtown Main Building on its front lawn.

“Kicking off the Smithtown Library Summer Concert Series was a special accomplishment for Rock Candy,” said Jessica Gallone, owner of RNRU. “I can’t thank the library enough for giving our students the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience, and to open for a group of professionals like Petty Rumours.” For more information on RNRU, call 631-656-5901 or visit www.rnru.rocks.

Barbra Streisand in a scene from 'Hello Dolly'

By Heidi Sutton

I am simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy, and driven. — Barbra Streisand

What can one say about Barbra Streisand? In a career spanning six decades, the legendary singer, songwriter, actress, author and filmmaker has won multiple Academy Awards, Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes, Tonys and a Peabody, proving that the incredible voice that launched her career was only one of her remarkable talents. 

So it was only natural for Sal St. George to pay tribute to the legendary star in his latest Living History Production, now playing at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village through June 14. 

Barbra Streisand at the 1969 Academy Awards with her best-actress Oscar for her role in ‘Funny Girl.’ Photo courtesy of Photofest

According to St. George, the show focuses on a specific turning point in Streisand’s career. “The story takes place in 1969. Barbra recently won the Oscar for “Funny Girl” and her latest movie, “Hello Dolly” has just been released,” he said, adding, “This was a pivotal time in young Barbra’s life. She was divorcing Elliot Gould at this time, as well.” 

Now the 27-year-old is a special guest on the fictitious sixties talk show, “The Dixie Carlyle Program.” Formatted as if the audience is coming to a live taping of the show, Streisand is interviewed about her life and career. 

The original script was written by St. George. “It takes approximately three months of research before the actual writing process begins,” he explained.

Gabrielle Lutz, who plays the role of talk show host Dixie Carlyle, said “I love creating a character from scratch. Dixie is fun and off-beat. You never know what she is going to do next.”

Sarah Franco tackles the role of Streisand in the show. “When Sarah auditioned and sang for us I immediately heard the sound of Barbra’s voice,” said St. George. “She is a disciplined and hard-working actor. I knew she would be able to personify the legendary singer.”

“How do you portray an icon like Barbra? I just try to master her mannerisms and vocalizations,” said Franco. “I also enjoyed the opportunity to portray the real Fanny Brice in this show. We recreate a Baby Snooks radio show.” Franco will sing many of Streisand’s hits from that time period during the 90-minute show.

Sarah Franco will portray Barbra Streisand in the show.

St. George’s son, Darren, who has been featured in numerous productions over the years, most notably as Tobias Brunt, the ruthless Bounty Hunter in “Running Scared, Running Free” and as Edgar Allan Poe, has the role of Danny DeLuca. “This is one of the most ambitious shows we have ever mounted. The finale will surprise and delight you. It was a challenge to produce, but it is all there onstage for the audience to enjoy,” said Darren.

After the performance, participants will be treated to a high tea luncheon featuring finger sandwiches (tuna, cucumber and chicken), assorted pastries, coffee and tea provided by Fratelli’s Italian Eatery of Stony Brook along with a meet and greet with the actors.

For Sal St. George, he’s already planning the next show. “This is our sixteenth year producing programs for the WMHO. Soon we will be preparing for our holiday program. The special guest has not yet been finalized. But we are looking to do the story of another successful female entertainer and icon — a very famous country western star.” Stay tuned.

Partially sponsored by Roosevelt Investments, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook will present a musical tribute to Barbra Streisand on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m., and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. Available dates at press time are May 17, 19, 23, 30, 31, June 2, 7, 9, 10, 13 and 14. Admission, which includes lunch, is $50 adults, $48 seniors and $43 for groups of 20 or more. To make reservations, call 631-689-5888. For more information, visit www.wmho.org.

Carolyn Brown-Benson recently recorded "Forever in My Heart," a song dedicated to military members and their loved ones. Photo by Christina Bohn

A local singer plans to give back to those who have served through the gift of music.

Carolyn Brown-Benson, known in the Three Village area for her Linda Ronstadt cover band Blue Bayou, recently recorded a single called “Forever in My Heart.” The song, written by Gray Devio and Jack Ruby, tells the story of a deployed military person and a loved one writing to each other.

The single is slated to be released by Bigger Bang Media May 19, Armed Forces Day, and will premiere on Armed Forces Radio on Memorial Day. A music video will follow July 4. Brown-Benson said she’s excited about its release and raising funds to aid a nonprofit that assists veterans or military members with proceeds.

“If they have somebody that they are missing terribly, whether they are here or passed, that it will give them a memory or a glimpse or make them feel like that person is right next to them.”

— Carolyn Brown-Benson

While the 52-year-old singer from East Setauket said she will continue working with Blue Bayou, she wanted to record music as a soloist for the first time in a way that could make a difference.

“A big part at this stage in life, you go, ‘Well I need a career,’ but it’s also, ‘How can I be of service?’” she said. “How can I use my voice?”

Brown-Benson said she knew she wanted to sing “Forever in My Heart” the moment she heard it at Devio’s studio. She had met Devio more than a year ago when a mutual friend connected them after she confided that she wanted to sing outside of her cover band.

“Forever in My Heart” originally was written to be a country song, according to Devio, but he said the singer’s pop sound takes it to another level. He believes the song will reach a broader demographic than if they were to release it as a country single.

“It’s a wonderful thing that Carolyn is singing it,” Devio said. “She has such a beautiful and legit voice.”

The songwriter-producer said he and co-lyricist Ruby were in Nashville, shopping their music to label executives when they wrote the song. Devio said when they composed the ballad, the two were overwhelmed with emotions with being separated from their wives and nervous about a meeting.

“We felt sort of like soldiers on a battlefield away from the ones that we love,” Devio said.

While originally written to depict a military member who is missing family back home, Brown-Benson’s sings it from a loved one’s perspective. Devio said in the middle of the song there is the idea of heaven, and he said he hopes the affirmation of faith gives comfort to those serving the country and the people in their lives.

“The idea of the song is to remind the people who are at home and missing their loved ones, who are serving our country to fight for the freedoms we have every day, to remind them that no matter what happens, that they’ll be forever in their hearts and that everything will be ok,” Devio said.

Brown-Benson said she also hopes the song will bring comfort to those who listen to it.

“It’s a wonderful thing that Carolyn is singing it. She has such a beautiful and legit voice.”

— Gray Devio

“If they have somebody that they are missing terribly, whether they are here or passed, that it will give them a memory or a glimpse or make them feel like that person is right next to them,” the singer said. “And to remember that they’re not that far away, even distance or death, there always right there next to you.”

Brown-Benson said she hopes once the song premieres Memorial Day on the syndicated Armed Forces Radio, which broadcasts to service members around the world, that other radio stations across the country will pick it up. She also hopes it will inspire civilians to see what they can do to help current and former military personnel. As the daughter of an ex-Marine, who served during the Korean War, she is familiar with the sacrifices of armed forces members. “These people protect [our] rights every day and leave families and jobs behind,” she said.

Brown-Benson said she is still searching for an organization to donate to and has found that several nonprofits need help. She has received suggestions of organizations that build homes for vets and those who provide canine companions, to those that fly military members home, but is open to more ideas.

The importance of helping former and current military members is something Joe Cognitore, Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 commander, knows well. He and his post have raised funds for many vets, including helping to build them homes. He said he is touched when he hears about endeavors like those of Brown-Benson and Devio.

“As a vet it makes me feel elated, because they don’t have to do that,” he said, adding he knows other vets feel the same.

When it comes to creating the video for the single, the singer needs others’ help in another way. Brown-Benson wants to incorporate photos of service men and women with their families in the video. The singer said she is also thinking of adding letters sent during deployment from contributors to the video.

For more info about “Forever in My Heart” or submitting photos for the upcoming video, visit www.carolynbensonofficial.com.

Post updated May 2 to include a quote from Joe Cognitore.

Photo from WMHO

AND THE FINALISTS ARE …

From left, Max Tuomey (vocalist, Old Bethpage); Caitlin Beirne (vocalist, St. James); Michael Lomando (vocals/guitar, Centereach); Sara Caligiuri (vocalist, St. James); Lydia Korneffel (vocalist, St. James); Ben Fogarty, Mint Band (trumpet, East Setauket); Varun Jindal, Mint Band (drums, East Setauket); Matt Broadbent, Mint Band (guitar, Setauket); Aidan Hopkins, Mint Band (trumpet, Setauket); Tom Manuel, president, The Jazz Loft (judge); Jay Sangwan, Mint Band (trumpet, Setauket); Naomi Pierro, music instructor, Grace Music School (judge); Jordan Amato (vocals, South Setauket); and Edward Decorsia, New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band ( judge)

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization recently revealed the finalists for its 2018 Long Island’s Got Talent competition. Created by the WMHO’s Youth Corps, the annual competition gives students from across Long Island the opportunity to showcase their amazing talents.  

Seven finalists (including a five-person band) were chosen to take part in the final competition on Sept. 7. The finalists will also be given the opportunity to perform at WMHO’s Sunday Summer Concerts series in July and August.

The judges this year will be Tom Manuel, president of The Jazz Loft; Naomi Pierro, a music instructor at Grace Music School; and Edward Decorsia of New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band.

A $500 scholarship will be awarded to the first- through seventh-place winners by Stony Brook University’s Pre-College Music Program, Five Towns College will once again offer a total of $25,000 in scholarships and Green Towers Group will present a $1,000 cash prize to the first place winner.

 For more information, please call 631-751-2244 or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com.

 

Ray Bonneville
On Sunday, April 15 at 5 p.m. WUSB-FM, The Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, sundaystreet.org and the Long Island Museum will welcome singer-songwriter Ray Bonneville, performing live on the stage of the Carriage Museum’s Gillespie Room in Stony Brook.  

With a style that sometimes draws comparisons to JJ Cale and Daniel Lanois, this blues-influenced, New Orleans-inspired “song and groove man” holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship. He says he “found his grove” when he moved to New Orleans after serving in Vietnam as a Marine, earning a pilot’s license, and moving to Alaska, then Seattle, and Paris. Ray‘s songs involve gritty narratives inspired by a lifetime of hard-won knowledge set against his soulful guitar and harmonica playing.
Ray has earned many accolades, including a Juno (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy). His post-Katrina ode, “I Am the Big Easy” received the International Folk Alliance’s 2009 Song of the Year Award, and in 2012 Bonneville won the solo/duet category in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge. His songs have been recorded by many other artists, among them Slaid Cleaves and Ellis Paul.
Ray will perform songs from a new album as well as fan favorites from his previous six releases. (www.raybonneville.com).
Tickets are $25 per person and may be purchased at the door. Please call the museum at (631) 751-0066 the day of the show to confirm ticket availability. Museum exhibitions close at 5 p.m. and are not included with concert tickets.
The Sunday Street Concert Series is presented by WUSB-FM, sundaystreet.org, the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council and the Long Island Museum.
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About Sunday Street
The Sunday Street Series began in 2004 at The University Cafe at Stony Brook University, when Charlie Backfish, host of the long-running weekly radio program Sunday Street on WUSB-FM, began presenting concerts with many of the singer/songwriters featured on the program. In its first decade, the series presented 172 concerts with musicians from all over the world performing in an intimate venue. In 2015 the series moved from the University Café to the nearby Long Island Museum, where musicians may take advantage of the museum’s Steinway Boston Grand piano. For more information and a complete concert schedule visit www.sundaystreet.org

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About the Long Island Museum

Located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook, the Long Island Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate dedicated to enhancing the lives of adults and children with an understanding of Long Island’s rich history and diverse cultures. Regular exhibition hours (unless otherwise noted), are Thursday through Saturday,10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.  For more information about programs and exhibitions, please call 631-751-0066 or visit the museum website at www.longislandmuseum.org.

‘Dance of the Haymakers’ by William Sydney Mount, 1845

By Heidi Sutton

Now through Sept. 3, The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook presents a delightful treat: a special exhibit titled Perfect Harmony: The Musical Life and Art of William Sidney Mount.

William Sidney Mount (1807-1868) was a renowned artist best known for his genre paintings, although he also painted landscapes and portraits. Born in Setauket, Mount lived in Stony Brook and painted many local scenes. A man of many talents, Mount was also a musician (he played the fiddle and fife), composer and inventor, designing a hollow-back violin that he named the Cradle of Harmony.

‘The Banjo Player,’ 1856, by William Sidney Mount, oil on canvas, gift of Ward and Dorothy Melville. Image from LIM

So many of Mount’s paintings incorporate music into the scene, whether it is dancing or playing a musical instrument so it was only natural to “connect his two major passions in life,” according to the exhibit’s curator, Joshua Ruff, director of collections and interpretations and chief curator at The LIM.

Currently on view in the Victoria V. Costigan Gallery in the Art Museum on the hill, the fascinating exhibit links Mount’s music and art with more than 20 oil paintings, pencil drawings, musical instruments, original compositions and more.

Of course, it is the incredible oil paintings, drawn from the museum’s unsurpassed collection, that take center stage. “Catching the Tune,” “Dancing on the Barn Floor,” “Just in Tune” and the famous “Dance of the Haymakers,” among others, are displayed in all their glory.

The portraits, some of which are over 160 years old, are as colorful and vibrant as ever. “Both William and his brother, Shepard Alonzo Mount, were really great at painting eyes and giving one the feeling like they are sitting in a room across from you,” commented Ruff, who has a fondness for “The Banjo Player.”

‘Just in Tune,’ 1849, oil on canvas, by William Sidney Mount, gift of Ward and Dorothy Melville. Image from LIM

Situated toward the center of the room is a unique music stand that Mount illustrated with sheet music of early American folk tunes including “Dearest Ellen” and a patriotic Fourth of July song. “These musical pieces were popular in the 19th century,” explained Ruff during a recent tour. The stand was designed to accommodate four musicians at a time and Ruff said that Mount most likely used it. “I would be surprised if he didn’t,” said the curator.

Also on display are some of Mount’s compositions including “In the Cars on the Long Island Railroad” and “The Musings of an Old Bachelor,” as well as musical instruments — a tin whistle, hornpipe, tuning fork — which belonged to the Mount family. A piano owned by Mount’s uncle Micah Hawkins sits in the corner. A General Store owner at Catherine’s Market in lower Manhattan, Hawkins composed music and to some extent was an influence to Mount “but his whole family was passionate about music,” said Ruff.

Along with Mount’s personal violin and initialed case, three prototypes of Mount’s Cradle of Harmony are also on view. “It’s nice that we were able to have all three examples of the violin that he designed and we have the 1852 patent design drawing for the first one,” the curator said.

In the background, a video plays several of Mount’s compositions, initially recorded by violinist Gilbert Ross for the Smithsonian in 1976 on its own Cradle of Harmony, tying the exhibit together perfectly.

“It is amazing how Mount was just able to bring music and art together and combine it. Until you have all [these items] gathered in a gallery you don’t necessarily appreciate just how much he was setting a violin down and picking up a paintbrush,” reflected Ruff. “Where one started and one finished is not always clear … nor should it be. It was just this continuing, constant influence and important part of his life.”

Related programs

Art & Music lecture

The Atelier at Flowerfield, 2 Flowerfield, St. James will present a lecture on the Perfect Harmony exhibit with guest speaker, curator Joshua Ruff, on Thursday, April 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Atelier Hall featuring an early American fiddle performance by Director Kevin McEvoy. Suggested donation is $10. For more information, call 631-250-9009.

Mount tribute concert

On Saturday, April 14, The LIM will host a concert by the Manhattan-based Red Skies Music Ensemble at 2 p.m. The group will bring Mount’s music and art to life through visual imagery and theatrical interpretation of songs from the artist’s own collection. One of the musicians will play Mount’s Cradle of Harmony. Followed by a Q&A. Admission is $20 adults, $18 seniors, $15 members and students. To register, call 631-751-0066, ext. 212.

Hands-On Art

Students in grades K through 4 can take part in an after school program, Hands-On Art, on Thursday, May 3 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. by visiting the Perfect Harmony exhibit and taking inspiration from William Sidney Mount to combine music and art. $10 per child. To register, call 631-751-0066, ext. 212.

The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will present Perfect Harmony: The Musical Life and Art of William Sidney Mount through Sept. 3. The museum is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors, $5 students, children 5 and under free. For further information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

 

WMHO to host 6th annual talent show contest

Attention Long Island students! Can you carry a tune? Or is a musical instrument your specialty? If so, get your audition DVD or YouTube video submitted now for Long Island’s Got Talent 2018, hosted by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO). Created by WMHO’s Youth Corps, the event gives Long Island students the opportunity to showcase their talents this spring.

The competition is open to students 10 to 17 years of age in Nassau or Suffolk County who must still be in high school at the time final awards are given in October of this year. Talent must be non-professional vocal or musical instrument performances. The entry deadline is April 6 and there is a $25 entry fee. Those who are contacted after submitting their audition will be asked to perform at the first round competition on Saturday, April 14 at 2 p.m. at WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main Street in the Stony Brook Village Center. Finalists chosen will also be given the opportunity to perform at WMHO’s Sunday Summer Concerts series in July and August.

For full details and Official Entry Form, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com/what-to-do-events/.

Mose Allison
Evening will honor the music of longtime Smithtown resident

By Kevin Redding

Mose Allison. Photo by Michael Wilson

A reporter once asked the late jazz and blues pianist and singer Mose Allison — regarded among musicians like Bonnie Raitt, Leon Russell, Pete Townshend and Van Morrison as “one of the finest songwriters in 20th century blues” — why he wasn’t more famous.

“Mose, you were a social critic before Bob Dylan, satirical long before Randy Newman and rude before Mick Jagger,” the reporter said. “How come you’re not a big star?” Allison, who was born in Mississippi and moved from New York City to Smithtown in the mid-1960s to raise a family and spent much of his time walking in the local woods and swimming in the Long Island Sound, responded: “Just lucky, I guess.”

On Saturday, March 24, The Long Island Museum, in partnership with WUSB-FM’s Sunday Street Concert Series and the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, will give the 2006 Long Island Music Hall of Fame inductee his proper due with The Word From Mose: A Celebration of the Music of Mose Allison, a tribute concert in the Carriage Museum’s Gillespie Room at 7 p.m.

Jack Licitra

The concert, following the tradition of other Sunday Street Series shows organized by Charlie Backfish, Stony Brook University history lecturer and host of the university’s weekly radio program “Sunday Street,” will feature local and outside musicians, who will strum and sing through decades of Allison’s breakthrough material, including his more well-known tracks “Your Mind Is on Vacation,” “Everybody’s Crying Mercy” and “I Don’t Worry About a Thing.”

Allison, who died Nov. 15, 2016, just four days before turning 89, was a four-time Grammy nominee and frequent collaborator with jazz greats Zoot Sims and Stan Getz whose songs spanned more than 30 albums — The Rolling Stones, Diana Krall, The Who, The Pixies and Elvis Costello are among those who have recorded Allison’s songs.

Pete Kennedy

The lineup includes “Sunday Street” regular and New York-based singer-songwriter Pete Kennedy; Pat Wictor, electric and slide guitarist of the group Brother Sun; Jack Licitra, a Sayville-based keyboardist and guitarist as well as the founder of the music-teaching studio South Bay Arts in Bayport; and Abbie Gardner, an acclaimed Dobro player who has toured for many years as part of the trio Red Molly. Some members of Allison’s family, including his daughter and singer-songwriter Amy Allison, will also be in attendance.

The evening will also include a screening of a short BBC documentary on Allison called “Ever Since the World Ended,” featuring interviews with Costello, Morrison, Raitt and Loudon Wainwright III and footage of Allison performing.

“Not only is he such an important artist, Mose Allison was someone who lived in this area for many decades and we thought it was time to do something like this for him,” Backfish said of the decision to honor the musician. “When he wasn’t on tour, which was quite often, he would be back in the area and playing shows at the Staller Center at Stony Brook University or jazz clubs in Port Jefferson.”

Pat Wictor. Photo by John Mazlish

Backfish said he also had the opportunity to interview Allison on his radio program many years ago. “He had such an incredibly rich catalog in so many ways and these artists are going to get together and play both well-known songs of his and the deep tracks,” he said. “I would hope that if people aren’t aware of Mose, they’ll suddenly find someone they will check out and listen to, and for those who know him, this will be a great way to celebrate his music and listen to artists reinterpret his songs.”

Wictor, a longtime Allison fan who, with his band, recorded a version of “Everybody’s Crying Mercy,” said Backfish approached him to participate in the concert for his “affinity” for the man’s work. “I love Mose partly because he cannot be categorized easily,” Wictor said. “He sort of mixed jazz and blues, and social commentary, in a way that nobody else did. And I like his sense of humor in his lyrics, which were always a little sardonic and mischievous. He comes across as a person that doesn’t suffer fools gladly and that’s always enjoyable to me. The songs themselves are very musically interesting, too — blues-based but they always have a unique musical and lyrical quality unlike anything else.”

Abbie Gardner

Kennedy said Allison was unusual among jazz musicians in his time because he wrote a lot of songs with lyrics, while others primarily stuck to instrumental compositions. “Allison actually wrote songs that he sang and that’s what we’re focusing on during the concert,” said Kennedy, who noted that he’s had a lot of fun examining Allison’s songs more closely and learning them in anticipation of the show. “His songs sound totally modern to me now, even the old ones from the 1950s and ’60s. The writing is really clever, really humorous and had a little bit of social commentary to it, but not in a negative way.”

Licitra, too, expressed his excitement over his involvement, calling Allison’s music “the thinking man’s blues.” “I’m really looking forward to giving people a taste of his style of intellectualism and humor,” he said. “And for me, this is all about the group of performers on the bill. I’m a big fan of all of them and so I’m excited about playing with them and seeing how they each interpret Mose’s [work].”

The jazz legend’s son John Allison, who grew up in Smithtown, said while his father was a true “musician’s musician” and beloved in many artist’s circles, he was as low profile as could be at home. “There he was, living in Smithtown, so unassuming that even our neighbors, for 15 years, didn’t know what he did until they saw him on TV with Bonnie Raitt for a PBS concert at Wolf Trap,” John Allison said, laughing. “He just wanted to do his thing. He read books and played music. I’d come home from high school and he’d be listening to some weird Chinese, classical music and just laughing and loving it … [and] sometimes he did tai chi in the living room.”

The Long Island Museum is located at 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. Advance tickets to the tribute show are $25 through Friday, March 23 at www.sundaystreet.org with tickets at the door for $30 (cash only). Beer, wine and cider will be available for purchase. For more information, please call 631-751-0066.

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