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Billy Joel

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The VFW, county government and the Mike DelGuidice-led Big Shot put on a massive concert for thousands Aug. 27. Photos by Greg Catalano

By Rich Acritelli

It was during this past week that classic rock could widely be heard throughout the North Shore. 

The Billy Joel “Big Shot” band that is led by local native Mike DelGuidice sang to a packed audience at Saint Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in Rocky Point Aug. 27. With almost 8,000 people on hand to watch the musical event, it was a great night enjoyed by all. For the last several years, Big Shot has been the main attraction of the summer concert series and a driving force of Post 6249 Rocky Point Veterans of Foreign Wars’ local efforts.

VFW Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore speaks at the Aug. 27 concert.
Photos by Greg Catalano

For the entire day, veterans of this military post diligently worked to ensure that this production was enjoyed by the many residents of this community. This operation was organized by Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore with eighteen members of the veterans organization that helped set up tents, directed where chairs could be placed, the positioning of garbage cans and worked with the church to ensure the success of this night. Cognitore was pleased to be working with Reverend K.J. Augustine, a new addition to the parish of Saint Anthony’s. It was a united effort by members of the church, VFW, county officials and local leaders that all participated in making this night come alive. Cognitore was thankful for the guidance that Augustine demonstrated to bring various organizations together through a musical tradition that has flourished at Saint Anthony’s during the summer months.

Cognitore said he was delighted that everything came together for all of the people on the beautiful evening to hear the DelGuidice sing the hits of Billy Joel, Elton John and Aerosmith.  For well over twelve hours, members of Post 6249 were seen in their blue shirts selling raffle tickets, pointing people to their seats, dancing, all with big smiles on their face, excited to watch this event unfold in front of a packed house. Even as DelGuidice now calls Florida his home, this local kid recalled his roots with good-hearted banter with the crowd. 

Since this series was created under then county legislator Dan Losquadro and continued with the aid of his successor Sarah Anker (D-Mount Siani), DelGuidice has been the key event to end these shows on a high note. While the musician performs next to Joel through the longstanding franchise at Madison Square Garden, DelGuidice is a proud figure from Miller Place. The former resident has mastered the songs of Joel and has members of his band playing with Big Shot to round out this talented group. With cheers that could be heard up and down Route 25A and Main Street in Rocky Point, DelGuidice played for almost three hours. 

It is this music that resonates well with many people that can identify with the local lyrics and spirit of Joel mastered by DelGuidice.  Like that of Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar Mellancamp, and Zac Brown, the combination of Joel and DelGuidice music will continue to stand the test of time and local residents will surely enjoy these shows for many years to come.

The VFW, county government and the Mike DelGuidice-led Big Shot put on a massive concert for thousands Aug. 27.
Photos by Greg Catalano

The importance of this concert series is that the local government and Cognitore are able to bring solid musicians to this area to present their multitude of talents. Instead of worrying about paying an expensive ticket price and traveling into the city, many people are able to come home from work and within minutes hear the unique voice of DelGuidice play some of the most memorable rock hits. This leisurely event allows people the opportunity to see an outstanding show that is free, close to home and they also observe the likes of Post 6249 work for the betterment of the North Shore.

One of the finest songs that DelGuidice sang on this night was “Good Night Saigon.”  Immediately, DelGuidice invited all of the veterans to be present on the stage and be next to him and his band. Much of this tribute was presented to the Vietnam Veterans that were led by Cognitore. He had tears in his eyes by the overwhelming applause from the crowd. Standing next to the post commander, they looked out to the crowd as they raised phones over their heads.nThey turned on their flashlights and cameras creating a clear path of light across the fields of Saint Anthony’s.  

Veterans, young and old were continually thanked by DelGuidice and his band for sacrificing for this nation. In an evening with many highlights, this one surely hit home for the members of Post 6249 and for those with history of defending this nation at home and abroad.

Already, Cognitore is looking forward to next year. He wanted to thank all of the political leaders, the church, officers of the Suffolk County Police Department of the 7th Precinct for their role in handling crowd control, parking, the traffic, and being a presence to ensure the safety of an audience of thousands.  

Benefit concert rakes in $55,000 for Suffolk County Crimestoppers

By Rebecca Anzel

The first thing Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron does when he gets to work each morning is check the communications section log, which tracks all significant events from the night before. More often than he would like, he reads that at least one young adult died from drug-related causes. And almost every time he is in a police car, he hears a call about an overdose on the radio.

“It is unprecedented — the opioid crisis affects everybody,” Cameron said over the sound of “Walking in Memphis” playing in the background. “We absolutely have to do something about it.”

The Emporium in Patchogue was filled with almost 600 people Thursday night, all there to listen to Billy Joel and Led Zeppelin cover bands, who were there to raise money for SCPD’s Crime Stopper’s four-month-old narcotics tip phone line, 631-852-NARC, which has already received nearly 900 tips — so much that the SCPD added detectives to investigate leads.

Teri Kroll lost her son Timothy to a heroin overdose in 2006. Photo by Rebecca Anzel
Teri Kroll lost her son Timothy to a heroin overdose in 2006. Photo from Teri Kroll

The original Suffolk County Crime Stoppers tip line generated a lot of helpful leads, Cameron said, but residents did not realize they could use the number to call in narcotics-related ones. Now, narcotic search warrants are up 100 percent this year, he said, and the amount of reward money given to those who called in tips leading to an arrest was higher than it had been in the past 20 years.

The benefit concert raised $55,000 in one night, all of which funds rewards. Donations are the sole way rewards are funded.

Michael DelGuidice, a Miller Place resident and front-man of Billy Joel tribute band Big Shot, said that the night’s concert was the right way to start fighting the county’s heroin epidemic, but stressed that it needs to be just the beginning of more action.

“As parents and fellow Long Islanders, we need to do something,” he said. “It’s going to be a fight, and it’s going to take a lot of collaboration, but we need to think of future fundraising efforts too.”

Teri Kroll’s son Timothy died at age 23 from a heroin overdose on Aug. 29, 2009. He became addicted to oxycodone after a doctor prescribed it to help alleviate the pain from his migraines. When his parents found out, they took the drugs from him and began the process of helping him recover, but they did not know he had turned to heroin.

The doctor, Seji Francis, was sentenced to six months in prison and deported after Timothy reported him to police. But during the process of helping her son and the detectives, his mother said there were no resources for her to turn to for help; no other mothers to call. There was a stigma around heroin addiction that there does not seem to be now.

“This event allows us to let our guard down, relax and know we’re doing a good thing at the same time.”–Teri Kroll

“The whole thing was hard on my family, but my son suffered the worst. Speaking out about this is my mom job for Timothy,” said Kroll, who is now the PUSH Coordinator for the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. “This event allows us to let our guard down, relax and know we’re doing a good thing at the same time.”

She added that if Timothy was at the event, he would be smiling and dancing with whoever was around him.

“The room was packed – and Michael DelGuidice gets it, and is willing to speak out on behalf of the disease of addiction and put his time an energy in the fight against what drives this epidemic – the drug dealers,” Kroll said. “The Suffolk County Police Department and Suffolk County Crime Stoppers have made it easy to report the dealers – proving zero tolerance in Suffolk County. We are attacking this epidemic from all sides, just what Timothy would have liked to see.”

Louis Iacona, president of Long Island Helps Recovery Initiation, said this event was a fun way to raise money and awareness about Suffolk County’s heroin problem. He struggled with the drug and found there were not a lot of resources available to help him recover.

“We need to smash this heroin epidemic to smithereens,” Iacona said.

Smithtown resident Nick Santoria, guitarist for Led Zeppelin cover band Zofolk, said the band was grateful to be invited to play at such an important event.

“We love to partake in such a great cause,” he said. “Crime Stoppers is doing such a great job and we wanted to help in any way we could.”

Residents can report tips or information regarding past crimes and drug dealing anonymously by calling 1-800-220-TIPS. Rewards of up to $5,000 will be issued.

Long Islanders and their friends and family members gathered on Tuesday for the Rocky Point concert series’ last performance of the year.

Community members danced, sang and cried during the Mark DelGuidice & Big Shot: The Ultimate Billy Joel Tribute, which began at 7 p.m The band’s performance wrapped up this year’s Rocky Point Summer Concert series, which began in early July.

The North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce alongside members of the Veterans of Foreign War were two of the organizations that attended the concert.

During an intermission period, the Veterans of Foreign War were invited on stage for the audience to pay tribute to their service. Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) was also among the crowd. Anker, who announced the schedule for the Rocky point concert series, joined the veterans on stage as Joe Cognitore, commander of the Veterans of Foreign War, waved the American flag.

The audience members remained at the concert until late in the evening as they enjoyed the tribute, which feature Billy Joel songs as well as songs by Elton John and other artists.

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Billy Joel accepts his honorary degree at Friday’s graduation ceremony. Photo from Lauren Sheprow

Stony Brook University marked its 55th commencement ceremony Friday and doled out degrees to 6,298 students, joining more than 155,000 of the school’s forerunners around the globe.

The school also honored Long Island leaders Billy Joel and Charles B. Wang, who received an honorary doctor of music and doctor of humane letters, respectively.

State University of New York Trustee Cary Staller conferred the honorary degree to Joel, and in his acceptance speech, Joel told students to never compromise their ideals.

“I hope that by now you have found what it is you love and I hope that you have learned the skills you need to make what you love your life’s work,” he said. “I wish for you the stamina to continue that work when you encounter resistance and tough times … if you’re not doing what you love, you’re just wasting your time.”

Wang, during his acceptance speech, stated his beliefs in four points, “One — you can make a difference; two — integrity and loyalty are only words until tested; three — love life to the fullest; and four — have fun.” He also described his inspiration to create the Charles B. Wang Center, an Asian and Asian-American cultural hub at the university.

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Billy Joel will receive an honorary degree at next month’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony, slated for May 22 at LaValle Stadium. Photo from SBU

Billy Joel is coming to Stony Brook University.

Billy Joel will receive an honorary degree at next month’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony, slated for May 22 at LaValle Stadium. Photo from SBU
Billy Joel will receive an honorary degree at next month’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony, slated for May 22 at LaValle Stadium. Photo from SBU

The iconic singer and songwriter was named one of three luminaries who will receive honorary degrees at this year’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony on May 22, along with renowned computer scientist Ben Shneiderman and Long Island businessman and philanthropist Charles Wang.

“This is a remarkable distinction for the Class of 2015, to be joined in their celebration by such a highly accomplished trio,” said Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “It shows our new alumni how much can be achieved with vision, dedication and perseverance. These three individuals personify the relentless pursuit of excellence that Stony Brook embraces.”

Stony Brook University will be conferring honorary degrees to all three visitors, who will don academic regalia along with more than 6,000 students at the 55th annual commencement ceremony, slated for 11 a.m. at LaValle Stadium. Both Joel and Wang will speak at the ceremony, Stony Brook University said.

“I look forward to this commencement, as I’m sure does the entire Class of 2015, as they prepare to celebrate the culmination of their dedication, hard work, and their vision for what lies ahead,” Stanley said.

Joel, who was raised in Hicksville, is a singer-songwriter pianist and composer who has earned 23 Grammy Award nominations, six Grammy Awards, and an additional Grammy Legend Award to name only a few of his achievements.

Shneiderman, a two-time Stony Brook University alumnus and distinguished university professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, is a world-renowned computer scientist who has transformed his chosen field. Shneiderman will be speaking at a prestigious doctoral hooding ceremony the previous day, May 21, at 1 p.m. in the Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

Wang is co-founder of Computer Associates International — now CA Technologies — and owner of the New York Islanders ice hockey team. Born in Shanghai, China, he moved to Queens when he was 8 years old, and attended Brooklyn Technical High School. The Charles B. Wang Center at SBU was named in his honor.