Music

He-Bird, She-Bird (from left, Terri Hall, Todd Evans and Christine Kellar) will be one of the headliners at the festival this year. Photo by Erin Pelkey
Music tradition continues at Benner’s Farm

By Rita J. Egan

The air will be filled with the sounds of bluegrass, blues and folk music in Setauket on Sept. 10 when Benner’s Farm hosts its sixth annual Fiddle & Folk Festival.

The farm’s owner Bob Benner said last year nearly 300 music lovers attended the festival where they explored the organic, solar-powered working farm and visited the animals while listening to music. “It’s an old-fashioned festival,” Benner said. “It’s pretty much held all over the farm.”

Miles to Dayton performs for a large crowd at Benner’s Farm during a previous Fiddle & Folk Festival. Photo by Bob Benner

Charlie Backfish, host of the long-running, weekly WUSB radio program “Sunday Street,” said the festival’s location sets it apart from others. “There aren’t too many [festivals] that actually take place on a working farm,” Backfish said. “The locale is terrific, and the performers we have are top-notch performers; so it’s a nice combination.”

Emceed by Long Island guitarist and singer Bob Westcott, the festival will feature headliners Daisycutter, The End of America and He-Bird, She-Bird.

Backfish said he’s familiar with the groups and looks forward to their performances. He said the group Daisycutter, from upstate New York, features fiddler Sara Milonovich. The End of America comes from Philadelphia and consists of three singers with incredible harmonies, and they’ve been compared to the early days of Crosby, Stills and Nash, according to the radio disc jockey. He-Bird, She-Bird, a trio from Long Island who sing both originals and covers, Backfish said, perform a roots music type of sound.

“I think we have three interesting acts there,” Backfish said. “They’ll all be on the main stage, and then there’s a second stage at the festival — a meet-the-performers stage. That’s the one that I’ll be hosting, where the audience has a chance to ask questions of the musicians and hear them do some songs that they’re not doing on the main stage.”

A scene from last year’s Fiddle & Folk Festival. Photo from Bob Benner

Benner said the stage to meet the performers is the solar-powered Shady Grove Stage close to the woods. There will also be a Fiddle Workshop in Jam Hollow where attendees can bring their own instruments to join in on the musical fun.

Amy Tuttle, program director of Greater Port Jefferson-North Brookhaven Arts Council, said the Stony Brook Roots Ensemble will be on hand for a special performance. The local music group is comprised of classically trained musicians who share a love of American roots music.

“They are terrific,” Tuttle said. “I’ve found that many outstanding young bluegrass musicians across the country are classically trained, and I’m delighted that we have such a talented homegrown group to present at the Fiddle & Folk Festival.”

For those who aren’t musically inclined, they can participate in contra dancing with a live band led by Rusty Ford, and children can enjoy stories and create artwork in the Kids Corner.

Children can get creative at the Kids Corner. Photo by Bob Benner

Backfish said for WUSB there is a personal connection to the festival. The station’s radio programmer Gerry Reimer, who died in 2012, was in talks with Benner to bring back the Fiddle & Folk Festival, which was formerly held on the property of The Long Island Museum. “I think she would very much like what has happened and how this festival continues,” Backfish said

Tuttle said the members of the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council enjoy a variety of musical genres and have enjoyed the performers at past festivals at Benner’s. “They are also very supportive of independent artists,” she said. “The same audience that loves the artistry, lovely surroundings and feeling of community at the Sunset Concerts in Port Jeff also enjoys those same aspects at the Fiddle & Folk Festival.”

Benner said he is looking forward to the event and music lovers coming together as they have the last few years on the farm. “It’s a day to come out and leave the world’s problems behind for a few hours and enjoy some music and community,” he said.

Presented by Homestead Arts, Benner’s Farm, the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, TBR News Media and WUSB Radio, the music festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., 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 more information, call 631-689-8172 or visit www.fiddleandfolk.com.

By Kevin Redding

From Aug. 24 to 27, the grounds at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson were filled with residents shouting “Opa!”

Vendors were selling Greek art and jewelry, there were carnival rides, happy faces and a whole lot of food for the 56th annual Greek Festival.

Long Islanders chowed down on gyros, moussaka, souvlaki and spanakopita while kids took to the merry-go-round and giant slide. Guided tours of the church and grand raffle prizes were available throughout the weekend and Greek music from the festival could be heard for miles.

From left, Pat Wictor, Joe Jencks and Greg Greenway make up the band Brother Sun. Photo by Neale Eckstein

BIDDING A FOND FAREWELL

Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, Setauket, in partnership with the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, will host Brother Sun’s final eastern Long Island concert on Sunday, Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. Join them in celebrating the six-year collaboration of Pat Wictor, Joe Jencks and Greg Greenway as they close this chapter in their careers and look forward to new horizons. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. No pets please. Tickets in advance are $20 at www.gpjac.org; $25 at the gate. Questions? Call 473-5220 before the event and 689-8172 on the day of the event.

Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra

Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra will fill the night with music, dancing and romance when they return to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport on Friday, Aug. 4, for their 11th annual performance of Spicy Sounds for a Hot Night. The popular event will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. in the courtyard of the Spanish-Revival style Vanderbilt Mansion overlooking Northport Bay.

Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner and to take professional, club-style Latin dance lessons ($5 per person, offered from 6 to 6:45 p.m. before the main event begins). Wine, beer and soft drinks will be available for purchase. Tickets are $30 in advance at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org, $35 at the door. Tickets also can be ordered by phone, weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, at 631-854-5579. In the event of rain, tickets will be refunded. (Please check Vanderbilt website for updates.)

Coltrane Day celebrated it’s third year at Heckscher Park this past Saturday, July 22. Long Islanders were treated to a variety of music workshops and classes, as well as a community jam session, live performances and more.

A scene from last year’s Coltrane Day in Huntington. Photo from Ron Stein

By Victoria Espinoza

Huntington is set to get jazzy  this upcoming weekend with the third annual Coltrane Day — part of Huntington Summer Arts Festival’s Jazz Week.

The Coltrane Home in Dix Hills in conjunction with the Huntington Summer Arts Festival and the Huntington Arts Council is set to entertain hundreds of residents this Saturday, July 22 from 2 to 10:30 p.m. at Hecksher Park for an all day festival of live music and music workshops. The event is intended to be a celebration of the legacy of jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane, who lived in Dix Hills.

“This is a one of a kind event — there is nothing else like it,” Ron Stein, director of Coltrane Day said in a phone interview. “The people who attend this event absolutely love it.”

Stein said what makes this event so unique is that it’s more than just a day filled with musical performances, there are also music classes and workshops offered throughout the day for kids of all ages to practice their craft.

Classes range from music improvisation, song writing, vocal music, hip hop, electronic music, drum circles and more.

Stein said what really makes Coltrane Day shine is the community jam session.

“This brings young musicians on stage to play with professionals,” he said. “It’s my favorite part of the day because it creates such a feeling of camaraderie. To see the faces of these young kids when they walk on the stage and get to play with the pros is really special. It creates such a spirit of community — which is really the theme of the event.”

Stein said the community jam is also great for parents to get an opportunity to see their kids shine on stage in a very different setting.

This year the Kenny Garrett Quintet is headlining Coltrane Day. Kenny Garrett, a saxophonist, has played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and has been nominated for six Grammy Awards. Long Island harpist Brandee Younger will be opening for the quintet.

All workshops are free and are about 45 minutes in length, but a $5 donation is recommended. Coltrane Day also offers a variety of foods, activities for kids, and art from local artists. Admission is free for children, and a $10 donation is suggested for adults.

For more information about Coltrane Day or the Coltrane Home in Dix Hills visit thecoltranehome.org or call 631-223-1361.

The planetarium’s new show Sunstruck explores the birth of our sun. Image from Vanderbilt Planetarium

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport has premiered two intriguing new shows for the summer and brought back a popular show.

New on the playbill is Sunstruck! during which visitors can travel back in time to experience the birth of our sun and solar system. Discover how the sun came to support life, how it threatens life as we know it and how its energy will one day fade away. Show runs Tuesdays through Sundays at 3 p.m. through Sept. 3.

Also new this summer is Laser U2. Enjoy the classics and modern hits of the band U2, one of the greatest bands of the last three decades. This concert is set against a backdrop of the latest laser art. Your eyes and ears will be your guides into an immersive journey through this British band’s rise and success. Show runs on Friday and Saturday nights at 10 p.m. through Sept. 3.

Finally, back by popular demand is Pink Floyd: The Wall. Based on the 1979 album of the same name, this is the tale of the rock star named Pink Floyd and his downward spiral into madness. This gripping and spellbinding musical journey is beautiful, haunting, powerful and thought provoking. Show runs on Saturday nights at 9 p.m. through Sept. 3.

Tickets for the daytime shows are $13 adults, $12 seniors and students, $9 children. (This price includes required general admission fee.) Tickets for the evening shows are $10 adults, $9 seniors and students, $8 children ages 12 and under. For further information, please call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Amber Ferrari will pay tribute to Pat Benatar on July 15. Photo by Marie Fristachi

By Rita J. Egan

Vocalist Amber Ferrari is ready to hit music lovers with her best shot by taking on the hits of pop icon Pat Benatar.

Amber Ferrari as Pat Benatar

Known on Long Island for her production Joplin’s Pearl Featuring Amber Ferrari, dedicated to the ’60s icon Janis Joplin, Ferrari recently decided to create a show paying tribute to the music of Benatar — the singer behind hits such as “Love Is a Battlefield,” “We Belong,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” “Heartbreaker” and so much more. The new production, Benatar Featuring Amber Ferrari, will debut at Theatre Three July 15 as part of the venue’s Summer Concert Series.

It’s no surprise that the local singer is taking on the icon’s music. Not only are both from Long Island — Ferrari a native of East Patchogue and Benatar a graduate of Lindenhurst Senior High School — but both possess large vocal ranges. Ferrari said Benatar’s vocal style is one of the reasons she loves singing her songs, citing the pop stars knack for being able to sing classically or rock ‘n’ roll with a rasp.

“I enjoy singing rock music, and her songs have such a large vocal range,” Ferrari said. “She sings both clean and dirty, so I’m able to use both aspects of my vocals, and I love doing that.”

Ferrari said Benatar’s 1980 “Hell Is for Children” from the “Crimes of Passion” album and the second single from the “Precious Time” LP, “Promises in the Dark,” are among her favorites. “I love ‘Hell Is for Children’ because it’s so hard vocally, and ‘Promises in the Dark’ because the vocal range is so large,” she said. “It goes slow to up-tempo as well.”

Similar to her Janis Joplin show, and her 2015 production Material Girl Featuring Amber Ferrari, which spotlights Madonna’s hits, the Benatar show will open with a few songs from other artists. Ferrari said she has selected hits from Blondie, Melissa Etheridge, Linda Rondstadt and Journey as well as one of her own.

Ferrari said Theatre Three is the perfect spot to debut her new show. “Theatre Three has a dear spot in my heart,” she said. “First theater I ever did one of my full shows at was Theatre Three.” It was during Ferrari’s participation in the theater’s production of Woodstockmania: Woodstock in Concert in 2005 where the late music director Ellen Michelmore asked Ferrari to sing Joplin’s songs. After that experience, she was inspired to perform the legend’s songs on a regular basis and created her signature show.

Douglas Quattrock, director of development and group sales and marketing coordinator at Theatre Three, said he is always excited when Ferrari performs at the theater but he’s even more than usual with the singer debuting the Benatar show at the venue.

“As an artist, she is always expanding her horizons and never fails to impress her audiences with new material,” he said. “So when she told me she was thinking of putting together a Benatar show, I was thrilled. It is a perfect fit for her.” Quattrock said he is looking forward to Ferrari’s renditions of “We Belong” and “Promises in the Dark.”

The production will also feature special guest Teddy Rondinelli from the group Rondinelli who has performed with Vanilla Fudge and Robert Plant. Ferrari will be accompanied by her band, which includes Chris Ferrari on guitar, Mike Chiusano on bass, Gary Gonzalez on drums, Bob Bellucci on keyboards and Jim Carroll on percussion.

Ferrari said she’s attended concerts of Benatar’s in the past, and her performances are amazing to see. One day she hopes she’ll have the opportunity to meet the icon. Until then, she’s busy rehearsing for the her new show’s debut and is hoping music lovers will enjoy the production.

She encourages audience members to wear their favorite Benatar-inspired outfit the night of the show, too. “I hope they’ll have a rocking great time, and it will bring them back to the ’80s and rocking out,” Ferrari said.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present Benatar Featuring Amber Ferrari July 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39 and may be purchased by calling 631-928-9100 or by visiting www.theatrethree.com.

Stu and Josh Goldberg of Mr. Cheapo in Commack. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Stu Goldberg’s lawyer told him he was never going to make it in the midst of opening up his own record shop, Mr. Cheapo — a nickname his wife, Marcia, lovingly bestowed upon him— in Flushing, Queens.

His pursuit of a high school dream hinged on $4,000 he’d saved delivering candy to supermarkets and a lifelong love affair with music, which had turned Goldberg into a regular at garage sales and flea markets, where he bought up piles and piles of records of every genre under the sun. A self-professed “child of the 60s,” he went to Woodstock with then-girlfriend Marcia.

But nearly four decades, and two Long Island locations after taking the plunge into uncharted waters of record shop owning, Goldberg, 68, has not only made it — he’s conquered it.

Mr. Cheapo, a beloved new and used CD and record exchange business chain and haven for music enthusiasts young and old has outlived giant competitors like Virgin Megastore and Tower Records as well as a crop of local independents and stands strong in the age of Spotify and iTunes.

“I just followed my dream — I always say, part of our success is that I wasn’t smart enough to know this wasn’t a good idea,” Goldberg said as he laughed, surrounded by a library of vinyl LPs, CDs, and cassettes at Mr. Cheapo in the Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack, a town he’s worked and lived in since 1988. He set up shop there soon after closing the original Queens store for good and building a loyal customer base at his other location in Mineola.

His son, Josh, 36, who’s been working at the store since he was 13, helps him run the business now, bouncing between both locations.

The shop feels like a vibrant museum of music, perhaps a fascinating new world for younger visitors but extremely familiar territory for older visitors, with an array of album art and posters of rock icons lining the wooden walls.

There are tens of thousands of new, used, and imported records, CDs, cassettes, and 45s, on shelves and in crates. Ceiling-high shelves are also filled to the brim with DVDs, a varied collection of dramas and horror films and concert documentaries.

Customers of every shape, size, nationality, and gender gaze longingly at the fronts and backs of albums, studying them as if there will be a test on their content later.

Tim Clair, owner of Record Reserve in Kings Park. Photo by Kevin Redding

“There’s a percentage of people that just like tangible things, they like to touch it, they want to read the liner notes, they want a real CD or record,” Goldberg said. “If they’re only listening to Spotify or Sirius radio, sometimes those just don’t have what they want.”

Steven McClure, from Nesconset, sifted through some Kinks vinyl and said he’s been a loyal customer for 16 years.

“I think it’s kind of exciting to come in and find something that you’d forgotten about a long time ago,” McClure said. “I may come in here to look for Dire Straits and I’ll end up seeing something else, look at this one and that one, it’s kind of crazy — I can spend hours here. And, for me, I have to have the artwork, artwork is the most important thing apart from the record.”

When asked why his is one of the last stores of its kind, Goldberg held up his hands and explained.

“We got it all … we sell everything from Dean Martin to Metallica and anything in between,” he said. “10 years ago, I remember feeling that things were fading, the digital age was coming and we just thought we were done. Then people started thinking vinyl was a fun thing to collect, so we’re back and I don’t see it going away for a while.”

According to Nielsen’s 2016 U.S. Year-End Report, vinyl LP sales grew to more than 11 percent of total physical album sales last year.

“This marks 11 years of year-over-year increases for vinyl LPs, reaching a record sales level in the Nielsen Music era (since 1991) with over 13 million sales this year,” the report said.

“I’m very happy we have this and we seem to continue to do pretty good … I don’t think records and CDs will ever die,” Goldberg’s son, an avid record collector himself said. “We also sell video games and patches and T-shirts, and that gives us a bit more of an edge than the typical, new Brooklyn record store, where they’re just selling overpriced vinyls.”

Goldberg said every customer who walks through the doors is different.

“Our customers range from 12 to 80, you’d be amazed by what people buy … there have been old guys in their 70s buying heavy metal and young kids buying Frank Sinatra,” he said.

Pointing out a mother and young daughter buying records at the counter, he said he’s seen a new trend grow in recent years.

“That’s something new in the past three or four years, mothers buying girls record players and girls coming in to buy vinyl,” he said. “I’d never seen that before like I do now. 16-year-old girls buying Zeppelin, it’s so cool.”

A customer shops for records. Photo by Kevin Redding

Less than 10 minutes away, on Main Street in Kings Park, sits Record Reserve, a small but well-organized and fully-stocked shop that’s serious about vinyl, the only format on the shelves.

“It’s just the best form of music,” Tim Clair, the store’s owner and sole staff member said.

Clair, 52, opened the doors in 2011 when vinyl was starting to have a resurgence.

“I like giving some people a place to go to do what they enjoy and I like to bring that back to people who miss it,” he said. “People come in and look through thousands of records … you’re going to find something here.”

Shelves are decorated with records of every generation and style of music imaginable, from Miles Davis to Joe Walsh to Linda Ronstadt to obscure R&B and punk artists. Whatever there’s a market for, Clair makes sure to order it and make it available for customers.

The store is also equipped with a Spin-Clean record washer to restore and clean old records, which Clair uses to eliminate mold and dirt that might cause skips when listening to vinyl.

While he said Record Reserve sells enough to stay alive, Clair noted the record shop industry isn’t easy.

“It’s a labor of love,” Clair said. “We’re still not making money, it’s not easy at all … but I’m not going to retire. It’s something I enjoy.”

He said when he started he considered himself knowledgeable about music, but has been continually “trumped by customers.”

Roger Wilbur, 57, from Smithtown, has been a regular for about two years.

“Tim knows what I like so he’ll tell me what to stay away from, what’s good, what’s rare, and lets me play music here if I want and not a lot of places let you do that,” Wilbur said.

The customer has been trying to build back his lost record collection from the 70s.

“I got the vinyl bug,” he said. “It’s something that you can put in your hand, it doesn’t have to come off a computer. I look at this place as a time capsule, it brings me back to the 60s, 70s and 80s.”

Beaucoup Blue, from left, David and Adrian Mowry. Photo from Charles Backfish

Coinciding with the Midnight Rum: Long Island and Prohibition exhibition on view at The Long Island Museum, the Sunday Street Series, joined by the Long Island Blues Society, will welcome Beaucoup Blue in concert on Sunday, July 9 at 7 p.m. Join them for a very special evening of great blues as well as some great brews for your enjoyment provided by The Port Jeff Brewing Company. Wine will also be available.

Beaucoup Blue is the father and son Philadelphia-based duo of David and Adrian Mowry. Although blues is a staple of their repertoire, they also cite musical influences from folk, soul, R&B, jazz, country and bluegrass. A handsome range of instruments, including 6- and 12-string guitars, slide guitar, and dobro and their two soulful voices blend together like only family members can. You’ll hear their original compositions but also blues classics. They have recently released their fourth CD, “Elixer.”

Bob Westcott will open the show. An accomplished finger-style guitarist, Westcott promises to share some songs from the Prohibition Era with the audience including Clayton McMichen’s 1930 classic, “The Prohibition Blues.”

Advance sale tickets are $20 at www.sundaystreet.org through Friday, July 7, with tickets at the door for $25 (cash only). For more information, call 631-751-0066.