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Billy Joel

One of the items on display at the new exhibit. Photo by Tara Mae

By Tara Mae

Music is often a meander through memory; it enraptures listeners with emotional remembrance and resonance. Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame’s (LIMEHOF) newest exhibit, Billy Joel, My Life — A Piano Man’s Journey, is a nuanced trip through time and tempo so intuitively evocative that it seemed to stun the piano man himself.

Billy Joel visited the LIMEHOF to view the new exhibit on Nov. 21. Photo by Tara Mae/TBR News Media

“It is a little intimidating,” Billy Joel said to a gathering of press, LIMEHOF board members, and other inductees, at the exhibit preview on Tuesday, Nov. 21. LIMEHOF Chairman Ernie Canadeo, Exhibit Designer Kevin O’Callaghan, and radio personality Bob Buchmann also spoke, remarking on Joel’s legacy and ongoing accomplishments. 

A retrospective revealed through multimedia, My Life spans more than 50 years of the Grammy Award winning artist’s life and career, beginning with his childhood on Long Island through his current residency at Madison Square Garden. With no announced end date, the show, on display now, is an audio-visual sensation. 

Featuring photos, video installations, personal memorabilia, artifacts, and, of course, music, the exhibit includes everything from Joel’s primary school class photo to set lists, instruments, a motorcycle, his MTV Video Music Awards, and many other personal paraphernalia.

“It was incredibly rewarding to watch Billy’s eyes as he was walking around the exhibit, saying, ‘Where did you guys get all of this stuff? It’s unbelievable,’” Canadeo said.

All the items, many from Joel’s personal collection, are notes in the score that comprise the soundtrack of his life. Visitors may enjoy their own theme songs as a jukebox offering Joel’s repertoire helps set the mood, and the piano he played on tour with Elton John rotates on a moving stage. Behind it, on a giant screen, footage plays of him performing at Shea Stadium. 

Providing a multi-tonal presentation of Joel’s evolution from struggling songman to undeniable superstardom, My Life is a multi-sensory experience. The exhibit is a comprehensive homage to Joel’s past, present, and passions. It embodies both the personal and professional elements of his life.

One of the items on display at the new exhibit. Photo by tara Mae/TBR. News Media

“People are going to be emotional and very impressed with what we have collected because they have not seen most of what we have here,” Canadeo added. “It really does represent Billy’s journey: from his humble beginning [on Long Island] to becoming one of the biggest music stars in the world. And, we cover pretty much every aspect of that, all the way through.”

Throughout this trajectory, Long Island arguably serves at both opening act and supporting player. “The show is not only a tribute to Billy, but it is a tribute to Billy’s relationship with Long Island,” Canadeo said. 

Tracing the development of the musician and the man, My Life chronicles different facets of Joel’s story: childhood in Hicksville; teenage keyboardist for the rock group The Hassles; working musician; motorcycle aficionado; and, world renowned artist with many multiplatinum albums to his name. 

This is the first time Joel has agreed to an exhibit of this nature. “We found that he had never agreed to doing an exhibition, ever. And so that was really the big conflict I had; the mission I had was to convince him to let us to do this. And the way I did it was the realization of his loyalty to his friends,” O’Callaghan said. “He is a very loyal guy. So, the show, if you look around, it is about his influences, people who influenced him and vice versa.”

Composed by music lovers for music lovers in honor of an internationally recognized music lover, the exhibit is tribute to more than Billy Joel; it is a communal celebration. Artist, exhibit architects, and audience share one fundamental trait: they are all fans. 

The exhibit lauds this musical reverence. A revelatory reflection on the sustenance for the soul music provides, My Life explores the scope of its impact. As patrons walk in, they are first greeted by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, a pivotal moment for the development of the modern music scene and Joel’s own artistic awakening. 

Other artists are represented as part of Joel’s musical development and devotion.  

“It is not only Billy Joel, we have on display Otis Redding, we have Paul McCartney, we have George Gershwin. [Joel] loved that idea of showcasing his influences and musical friends.  And, he actually said to me, ‘So, it is going to be a party with my friends,’ and I said, ‘It is going to be a party with your friends.’ And that’s what kind of sold him on it,” O’Callaghan added. 

That sense of camaraderie creates kinship between artist and appreciators as it permeates the exhibit’s atmosphere. Such a symphony of synchronicity is a symbiotic relationship that unites all participants in their mutual musical dedication. Bonds born of these shared interests are key components of My Life, incorporating both the keepsakes themselves and honoring those who treasure them.

Among the items donated by Joel are mementos lent by two of his biggest supporters, Eric Fellen and Paul Fierro. “They found us and were very generous and really this would not have happened without their help. It would have been a much, much softer show; we went over the top with what they had,” O’Callaghan said. 

Such enthusiasm underscores every aspect of My Life. Common appreciation for Joel encapsulates what the artist enjoys as well as the ways he is able to continue connecting with his listeners. 

“I love music…most people do, and I am very glad that we all ended up loving the same thing,” Joel said at the exhibit’s reception. 

Located at 97 Main Street, Stony Brook, LIMEHOF is open Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $35 for adults; $32.50 for seniors/veterans; and, $20 for students age 13+. For more information, call 631-689-5888 or visit www.limusichalloffame.org. 

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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.