Music

Mark Newman

Save the date. Grounds & Sounds Café, located at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 380 Nicolls Road, East Setauket will welcome singer/songwriter/guitarist Mark Newman in concert on Friday, Nov. 9 at 9 p.m. Preceded by an open mic at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person at www.groundsandsounds.org or at the door. For further information, call 631-751-0297.

Photo from WMHO

Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook village hosted the Long Island’s Got Talent 2018 finals on Oct. 19. Caitlin Beirne of St. James took first place (winner of $6,000 scholarship from Five Towns College and $1,000 cash from Green Towers Group); Sara Caliguiri of St. James was in second place (winner of $5,000 scholarship from Five Towns College); and Michael Lomando of Centereach, third place (winner of $4,000 scholarship from Five Towns College). 

Pictured in the back row, from left, Aidan Hopkins, bassist/Mint Band; Matt Broadbent, trumpet/Mint Band; Varun Jindal, drums/Mint Band; Deborah Boudreau, WMHO education manager; Michael Lomando, solo vocalist and guitar; Jay Sangwan, guitar/Mint Band.

Pictured in the front row, from left, Sara Caliguiri, solo vocalist and keyboard; Max Tuomey, vocalist; Ben Fogarty, keyboardist/Mint Band; Jordan Amato, solo vocalist; Caitlin Beirne, solo vocalist; Lydia Korneffel, solo vocalist. Congratulations to all the winners! Watch for details in the spring of 2019 for next year’s contest at www.wmho.org.

Photo by James Dima

Tribute to Led Zeppelin

Pure Led, a Long Island Led Zeppelin tribute band, will return to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport to perform on Sunday, Nov. 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the 60-foot domed theater of the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium.

 The playlist, which features work from the early BBC recordings to select hits from the later albums, captures the essences of the band’s best live performance and will include “The Song Remains the Same,” “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love” as spectacular laser images and space imagery fly overhead in a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.

“We love the music and we love playing the music you love to hear,” said band member Patrick Giovanniello. “We give it our all with a chemistry and force that is comparable to the mighty Led Zeppelin during their early years.”

Tickets are $20 adults online, $25 at the door; $15 children ages 5 to 15; children under 5 are free. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

If one asked Miller Place native and opera singer Chris Remkus what makes opera so appealing, he would say a production is more than just a costume and set, that it’s the combination of epic story and deep-throated, passionate voices that transcend the mundane of the normal world.

“I think what’s so thrilling about opera is you have these pieces in the repertoire which are just complete works of art,” the 29-year-old Remkus said. “They tell a complete story that is both musically thrilling but also sincere and authentic in its intentions.”

Remkus has long worked to perfect his voice as a tenor, and while he has loved choir and musicals, it is opera that has captured the young man’s imagination.

Chris Remkus, a tenor opera singer who graduated from Miller Place High School in 2009, is set to star in a production of ‘Candide’ at the New England Conservatory Oct. 23 and 24. Photo from Remkus

“You’re using the full range of your voice, and you’re using the full dynamic of your acting capability to create a story and create a character that is thrilling to witness and participate in,” he said.

Now Remkus is cast in the title role of Candide for the New England Conservatory’s two-night production of the late Leonard Bernstein’s English-speaking operetta “Candide.” The opera is being put on in celebration of what would have been the famous composer’s 100th birthday.

Remkus was born to the stage at a very young age when his father, Joseph Remkus, a retired chemistry teacher from Sagamore Middle School in Sachem who also acted as director for the schools theater program, would bring his children, Chris and his sister Lauren, to the school’s auditorium to watch while his students rehearsed. Eventually his kids became part of the performance.

“He seemed to like it — being on stage,” Remkus’ father said. “We did ‘Damn Yankees,’ ‘Good News,’ ‘Bye, Bye Birdy,’ and more. My music director from junior high said he had a really good voice — even back then she could hear him really clear.”

Candide is based off of the 18th-century philosopher Voltaire’s notorious 1759 satire “Candide, ou l’Optimisme,” which follows the story of Candide as he journeys across Europe while testing the very concept of overriding optimism, and that people must make sense of a world that often displays such barbarity.

“It was just a role that speaks to me — it captures the satire and comedy in the role, and it also has a deep undertone to the story,” Remkus said. “We can just see how crazy the world can be and how terrible things can happen, and were left trying to make sense of this seemingly meaningless world.”

It’s a role that Remkus’ father said his son has worked so long and so hard for. As a young man the opera singer was always involved in theater and music throughout his high school career. First, he played saxophone in the traditional high school band, big band and jazz band. Over time his classmates and friends kept telling him he had a great voice, and that he should join choir as well. In his senior year he was picked to be one of only 12 young people for the New York All-State select choir and was also the only person on the North Shore of Long Island to be selected for All-Eastern choir.

After he graduated from Miller Place in 2009 Remkus left for Hofstra University to get his bachelor’s degree in music. He took time off to develop his voice even more, taking classes at the Manhattan School of Music before heading upstate to get his master’s in music from the Bard Conservatory of Music. In 2017 the tenor headed to Boston to participate in the New England Conservatory’s pre-professional program, specifically looking to get a graduate diploma in voice. Remkus said he expects to finally end his schooling by early 2019.

Beyond Candide, the young opera singer said he wishes to one day make it to Europe to perform in the opera scene there. The life of an opera singer is much less sedentary than some might assume, Remkus said. Often opera singers are employed for the length of one or two years before having to move on to another opera hall and another company. Despite the anticipated traveling, he said he is excited to see the world.

“We’re always bouncing around exploring new avenues and new pieces which keeps it really exciting and refreshing,” Remkus said.

Remkus’ father, who will be taking the trek to Boston to watch his son perform Candide Oct. 23 and 24, said he could not be any happier for his son.

“Being a theater person myself I couldn’t be any more proud of him,” he said.

Save the date!

Grounds & Sounds Cafe at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 380 Nicolls Road, East Setauket will welcome singer-songwriter Lara Herscovitch (modern American folk with blues, pop and jazz flavors) in concert on Friday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. Preceded by an open mic at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door or at www.groundsandsounds.org.

Pete Mancini & the Hillside Airmen

By Heidi Sutton

Featuring the best in traditional and contemporary folk music, the seventh annual Fiddle & Folk Festival returns to Benner’s Farm in East Setauket this Sunday, Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

The day-long event will showcase three stages. Emceed by guitarist and singer Bob Westcott, the Main (Back Porch) Stage will feature four acts this year. The Shady Grove Stage, which will be hosted by WUSB’s Charlie Backfish, will allow visitors to meet the performers and attend workshops, and the Jam Hollow Stage will highlight a sing-along and a fiddle workshop. There will also be a roaming fiddler, appropriately named Jack Fyddle, who recently appeared as a reenactor in TBR News Media’s feature film, “One Life to Give.” The evening will end with a family contra dance in the barn. 

Larry Campbell and Theresa Williams

Reached by phone, Amy Tuttle, program director at the Greater Port Jefferson-North Brookhaven Arts Council who’s also on the festival committee, said she’s familiar with the groups and looks forward to their performances, adding that this year’s headliners will have more of “a rock feel, more on the Americana, modern folk spectrum.”

Back by popular demand, The Stony Brook Roots Ensemble will open the festival. Formed in 2015 by Taylor Ackley, the ensemble features grad students from Stony Brook University. Tuttle said the group “takes the mountain music and the western music that [Ackley] grew up with in Montana and Washington State and play it with classical instruments and it’s really cool — everybody loves it.”

The festival will continue with a performance by Brooklyn-based The New Students, who “do a modern twist on traditional folk music,” and will be followed by Pete Mancini & the Hillside Airmen. According to Tuttle, Mancini was the former frontman of Butcher’s Blind. “He just started this band and was recently signed to Diversion Records based in Chicago,” she said.

Larry Campbell and wife Theresa Williams will close out the festival. “They are musicians’ musicians,” explained Tuttle. “Larry was a member of Bob Dylan’s Band, and Theresa is also a songwriter and singer and they have been in Levon Helm’s band and have become the musical director of Levon’s Midnight Ramble. They’re the ones that are carrying on the torch now that Levon has passed.” 

The New Students

She is most excited to introduce the community to this duo, having tried for several years to get them to come. “These folks are known worldwide among people who appreciate great musicianship.”

Tuttle said there will be plenty of activities that children can participate in as well by taking part in the sing-along workshop, enjoying stories and creating artwork in the Kids Corner.

Visitors are also encouraged to stroll around the 15-acre working organic farm, meet the resident farm animals, tour the vegetable gardens, purchase organic produce and feel like a kid again on the Big Swing. For Tuttle, this is one of those special events that she looks forward to every year. “The quality of the music is just top notch, the setting is gorgeous and the vibe of the festival is relaxed and friendly.”

Presented by Benner’s Farm, Homestead Arts, the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, TBR News Media and WUSB Radio, the music festival will be held rain or shine. 

Benner’s Farm is located at 56 Gnarled Hollow Road in East Setauket. Admission to the festival is $18 for adults, and $13 for children and seniors at the door. Please bring seating. For a full schedule of events, visit www.fiddleandfolk.com. For more info, call 631-689-8172.

All photos courtesy of Amy Tuttle

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Bob Westcott

Save the date! Grounds & Sounds Café, located at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 380 Nicolls Road, East Setauket will welcome acoustic, folk, classical and blues singer/songwriter Bob Westcott, left,  in concert on Friday, Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. The evening will be preceded by an open mic at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 per person at www.groundsandsounds.org or at the door. For more information, call 631-751-0297.

Tom Manuel

Making Memories with Music, a special program for people with dementia and their care partners, returns to the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington on Aug. 27 at 11 a.m. Facilitated by Marcy Rhodes, the morning will feature a performance by The Jazz Loft Trio — Tom Manuel on cornet and vocals, Steve Salerno on guitar and Keenan Zach on double bass. Admission is $5 per person. Popcorn and beverages will be served. Registration is required by calling 631-423-7610, ext. 0.

The festival will have lots of carnival rides and games for families to enjoy. File photo by Bob Savage

By Sabrina Petroski

Souvlaki, gyros, baklava, oh my! Is your mouth watering yet? Try all of these dishes and more as the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson celebrates its 57th annual Port Jefferson Greek Festival from Aug 23 through 26. This year’s event will feature carnival rides, traditional dance performances, live music, games and culinary delights. 

Come for the delicious food and stay for the dancing!

Authentic Greek dishes such as gyros, moussaka, tiropita, souvlaki and spanakopita will be served up, along with sweet desserts such as melomakarona, galaktoboureko, kourabiedes, koulourakia, baklava and loukoumades, a fried dough pastry favorite.

According to Marisa Raptis, the president of the Parish Council, members of the church will be making the food on sight and fresh to order. Popcorn, cotton candy and pretzels will also be available. 

Guided tours of the church will be available throughout the day, and over 30 vendors will be scattered around the church grounds selling jewelry, home                                                                                           goods, clothes, beauty products, candles and other handmade items. 

One of the main attractions at the festival is the over-the-top sweepstakes that the church holds. This year 315 prizes will be awarded including cars — a 2018 Mercedes Benz GLC 300 4Matic is first prize — an Alexa Smart Device, a Bose Home Theater, an iPod Touch, a Nespresso Mini, cash prizes and much more. Tickets for the sweepstakes are $100 each, limited to 4,999 tickets — meaning that one out of 16 will win a prize. The drawing will be held on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.

The festival will have lots of carnival rides and games for families to enjoy. File photo by Giselle Barkley

In addition, there will also be live performances throughout the weekend for guests to enjoy. The Hellenic Dance Troupe will be performing on Saturday as well as the church’s Youth Dance Troupe, showing off the traditional Greek style of dance. A five-piece band will take the stage Friday through Sunday with tunes that will make you want to get up out of your seat, and a DJed fireworks show will turn heads on Friday and Saturday night, weather permitting. 

“People should come because we are one of the largest Greek festivals on Long Island,” said Raptis in a recent email. “Where else can you go on a Friday night and eat dinner under the stars while listening to live music and watching fireworks?,” adding, “I am most excited about being with my Greek community for four days as we show our love for our culture to everyone with music, food and dancing!”

The festival will take place, rain or shine, from 5 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 23, 5 to 11 p.m. on Aug. 24, 1 to 11 p.m. on Aug. 25 and 1 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 26. Tickets are $2 per person, and children under 12 can attend for free. A shuttle service will be available from Ward Melville High School to the church. Raffle tickets may be purchased online at www.portjeffgreekfest.com. 

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption is located at 430 Sheep Pasture Road, Port Jefferson. For more information, call the church office at 631-473-0894.

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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