Tags Posts tagged with "Tom Needham"

Tom Needham

Photo courtesy of LIMEHOF

The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) in Stony Brook awarded $1000 scholarships to ten graduating students from across Long Island at an awards ceremony on June 30. Also, for the second year in a row a Pat DeRosa Memorial Scholarship was awarded in memory of LIMEHOF inductee Pat DeRosa. 

The following students received scholarships: Cooper Arbisi, Massapequa High School, Massapequa; Stephen Buff, Center Moriches High School, Center Moriches; Cody Chelune, Island Trees High School, Levittown; Jocelyn Chiu, Herricks High School, Albertson; Giuliana Gallone, Kings Park High School, Kings Park; Dara Gordon Commack High School, Dix Hills; Emily Helbock, Sayville High School, Sayville; Ryan Loughlin, Farmingdale High School, Farmingdale; Aidan Passaro, Mt. Sinai High School, Mt. Sinai; Julian Zuzzolo, North Shore High School, Sea Cliff; and Peter Hoss (Pat DeRosa scholarship winner)Harborfields High School, Greenlawn. 

“We are thrilled to award these scholarships to such talented and dedicated young musicians,” said Tom Needham, LIMEHOF’s Educational Programs Director. “Supporting the next generation of music students as they embark on their college journeys is at the heart of our mission. These scholarships not only recognize their hard work and passion but also reinforce our commitment to nurturing musical talent and education within our community. We can’t wait to see what these young people will accomplish in their musical careers.”

Freeport teacher Stephanie Arnell is excited to teach the workshops this fall. Photo from LIMEHOF

As part of the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHoF) partnership with rock and roll legend Steven Van Zandt’s TeachRock organization announced earlier this year, LIMEHOF will host the first ever series of free TeachRock workshops for teachers sponsored by Harmony Insurance at LIMEHOF’s Stony Brook location, 97 Main Street, Stony Brook, on Sunday, September 17 and another on Sunday, October 15  both from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

TeachRock founder Steven Van Zandt at a TeachRock event. Photo from LIMEHOF

“We are so excited to give teachers this opportunity to learn more about Steven Van Zandt’s TeachRock curriculum and to give them some time to explore our museum,” said Tom Needham, LIMEHoF’s Educational Programs Director.  “My hope is that this leads to many music themed lessons in the classroom and field trips to the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame moving forward.”

These are free workshop events, sponsored by Harmony Insurance, open to local area teachers with registration. Teachers can register on TeachRock’s workshop registration page https://teachrock.org/LIMEHOF/. The first workshop Intro to TeachRock followed by a 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop themed workshop.

The workshops will be taught by TeachRock Star Teacher Stephanie Arnell who is a veteran Freeport Public Schools educator who has helped her district embrace arts integration and had fun doing it! She’s excited to share her tips and the free TeachRock lesson plans she uses with local educators. All attendees are granted free access to the museum following the event and are eligible for NY CTLE credits through TeachRock.

“Looking at curriculum through a musical lens keeps students engaged while they don’t even realize they are learning,” said Arnell. “For example, learning the history of MLK Day through Stevie Wonder’s song “Happy Birthday” or using data from Beyonce’s Instagram account to practice calculating ratios.  I’ve seen in my classroom the way students’ gravitate towards TeachRock lessons and I’m excited to spread that enthusiasm to teachers and students on Long Island.”

Launched in 2002 by Van Zandt and the Founders Board of Bono, Jackson Browne, Martin Scorsese, and Bruce Springsteen,TeachRock.org provides free, standards-aligned resources that use music to help K-12 students succeed in science, math, social studies, and language arts, among other subjects. TeachRock improves students’ lives by filling every classroom with the sound, stories, and science of music. Nearly 60,000 educators—representing all 50 states—are registered at Teachrock.org.

“TeachRock teachers don’t tell kids to take out their earbuds, they ask them what they’re listening to and then make connections between their favorite music and the core curricula they need to master to succeed in life,” said TeachRock founder Steven Van Zandt. “This partnership will help my TeachRock team create more of those educators whose cool class keeps kids coming to school.”

The workshops are made possible by Harmony Insurance. “Harmony Insurance is proud to sponsor TeachRock’s Long Island Music Workshops for teachers, aiming to inspire and educate through music,” Harmony Insurance said in a statement.

“We’ve seen for years how the shared interest in music helps forge connections between teachers and students, and every year we witness how arts-integrated math, science, and social studies classes pull students from the margins and inspire them to participate,” said Bill Carbone, TeachRock Executive Director. “We’re thrilled to partner with LIMEHOF to help as many LI teachers as possible get excited about inspiring their students through the arts.”

For more information about LIMEHoF’s education programs please visit https://www.limusichalloffame.org/teachrock/

Hip-hop group The Fat Boys was recently inducted into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) at its newly opened museum location in Stony Brook on Aug. 6. Kool Rock-Ski (Damon Wimbley), the last surviving member of The Fat Boys, accepted the induction in person from hip-hop legend and LIMEHOF inductee Erick Sermon of EPMD. Public Enemy’s DJ Johnny Juice (also a LIMEHOF inductee) was also on hand to show support and speak about the group. 

“It’s definitely an honor on behalf of the group, two members who are no longer here,” Kool Rock-Ski said. “To accept this on their behalf is huge, because they brought so much to the culture. Their legacy lives on with an award like this. We got to the pinnacle of our success—and we got there the hard way, by doing a lot of hard work.”

The Fat Boys rose to fame in the 1980s, where they pioneered their influential beatbox style of hip-hop music. The group was from East New York in Brooklyn and included “Prince Markie Dee” (Mark Morales), “Kool Rock-Ski” (Damon Wimbley), and “Buff Love” (Darin Robinson). They would heavily influence hip-hop culture through beatbox, comedic charisma, and rhymes. The trio released seven studio albums, four of which went gold by RIAA. In addition to their music, they went on to star in three feature films: Krush Groove, Knights of the City, and Disorderlies.  

The Fat Boys had several successful singles which included “Stick ‘Em,” “Can You Feel It,” “The Fat Boys Are Back,” “Wipe Out,” “Fat Boys,” and “Jail House Rap,” to name a few. Throughout their career, they participated in several tours, one of which was Fresh Fest. And despite having eventually broken up as a group, each of the three members maintained a strong brotherhood. The Fat Boys is credited as having had a strong influence on the development and growing popularity of hip-hop. 

“The Fat Boys introduced the beatbox, to the world and the song they made was funky to me,” said EPMD’s Erick Sermon, himself a LIMEHOF inductee, when he officially inducted The Fat Boys on stage. “I’m honored to do this because my memories of my kitchen on that ledge was playing The Fat Boys album.” 

Kurtis Blow, another LIMEHOF inductee, has a personal connection to The Fat Boys, as he produced their first two albums. 

“The Fat Boys being inducted into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame is so well deserved,” Blow said in a written statement which congratulated the group on this honor. “These young men were talented and passionate about their craft at a very young age. Producing The Fat Boys was one the highlights of my career. Rest in peace, Buffy (the Human Beatbox Master) and Prince Markie Dee (Mark Morales). I will never forget you, and you are greatly missed. Continue to carry the torch, Kool Rock-Ski!”

LIMEHOF has long recognized the unique talent and contributions that Long Island artists brought to the hip-hop genre. Notable hip-hop inductees include LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Kurtis Blow, Whodini, Salt-N-Pepa, and EPMD. Earlier this year, LIMEHOF held an event to honor the 50th anniversary of hip-hop which had a strong participation and turn out from Long Island artists.

“This historic induction—coupled with our recent 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop Concert—cements Long Island’s legacy as one of the most important regions in the country for contributing to hip-hop’s long-term success,” said Ernie Canadeo, LIMEHOF Chairman.  

“Inducting The Fat Boys into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame is a tribute to their enduring influence—recognizing their role in shaping the genre and inspiring generations,” said Tom Needham, LIMEHOF Vice Chairman and longtime host of the “Sounds of Film” radio show, and who organized the induction event.

At the induction ceremony, Kool Rock-Ski announced that he is working on a documentary film about The Fat Boys and intends to hold the premiere at LIMEHOF when it’s released. 

For more information about events and future inductions, visit www.limusichalloffame.org/museum/. 

(L-R) LIMEHOF 2023 music scholarship winners Jacob Leshnower (Half Hollow High School East High School), Alexis Pabebianco (Mineola High School) Chris Hummel (Harborfields High School), Coleman Schubert (Babylon, Babylon Jr-Sr. High School) and Luca Alexandru (Syosset High School).

For the first time since opening the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) Museum in Stony Brook last fall, LIMEHOF recently awarded its annual music scholarships to five graduating students from across LongIsland in a special ceremony held in the main exhibit hall.

This year’s Distinction in Music scholarship winners include Chris Hummel (Centerport, Harborfields High School), Jacob Leshnower (Dix Hills, Half Hollow High School East High School), Alexis Pabebianco (Williston Park, Mineola High School), Luca Alexandru (Syosset, Syosset High School) and winning the Pat DeRosa Scholarship was Coleman Schubert (Babylon, Babylon Jr-Sr. High School). The Pat DeRosa Memorial Scholarship was created to honor the memory of LIMEOHF inductee Pat DeRosa and was awarded specifically to a High School Senior to continue their studies in Music on the saxophone or woodwind instrument.

“We are immensely proud of our scholarship winners who have been granted the opportunity to pursue their passion for music through higher education,” said Tom Needham, LIMEHOF’s Educational Programs Director. “Their talent, dedication, and commitment to their craft inspire us all. We believe that their journey will not only shape their own futures but also contribute to the rich musical legacy of our community and beyond.”

Both Patricia DeRosa Padden, the daughter of LIMEHOF inductee Pat DeRosa and her daughter, Nicole DeRosa Padden (Pat’s granddaughter), were in attendance to present the scholarship in his name to Coleman Schubert. Afterwards they were presented with Pat DeRosa’s LIMEHOF inductee award trophy by LIMEHOF Chairman Ernie Canadeo. Pat DeRosa had been inducted during the Covid lockdown restrictions and unfortunately, he passed away in March of 2023 before the official in person presentation ceremony could be held.

About Christopher Hummel (Centerport, Harborfields High School, Violinist)

Christopher Hummel

Christopher Hummel has a passion for music which has brought him from Germany to Oregon. Equally comfortable leading an orchestra (he is currently serving as concertmaster of the Long Island Youth Orchestra), playing in chamber groups (he is the violinist in the HBK Piano Trio), and as a soloist (he has performed at the Majestic Theatre, and was a featured soloist during the Long Island Youth Orchestra’s 61st season), he has had the opportunity to work with some of today’s leading teachers.

Christopher has won national accolades (3rd prize in the 2021 Charleston International Baroque Competition, and 2nd in the 2021 New York MTNA Senior Performance Competition). He currently studies with Ann Setzer and Jennifer Frautschi. When not with his violin in hand, you will find him swinging a tennis racquet or spending time with his wonderful family.

Christopher is incredibly grateful to receive this scholarship from the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. This generous scholarship will enable him to pursue his passion for music at Juilliard, taking the next step towards his dream career of being a soloist.  He would like to thank the scholarship committee, his teachers, and his parents for supporting him on his journey to becoming a professional musician.

About Jacob Leshnower (Dix Hills, Half Hollow High School East, Percussion and Piano)

Jacob Leshnower

Music has played a unique role in shaping Jacob’s academic and professional pursuits. Jacob began playing piano when he was two years old and chose percussion in fourth grade after being wowed by the timpanist at a Carnegie Hall concert. In high school, he played percussion in the All-District Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Symphonic Orchestra, and Marching Band, and piano in Jazz Band and Pit Orchestra.

Jacob also has had the amazing opportunity in recent years to perform as a percussionist in All-County, All-Eastern, and All-National ensembles, as well as the featured pianist in the All-State Symphonic Band. These experiences have provided him with an opportunity to meet like-minded people and confirm my commitment to pursue music as I enter college and beyond.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacob participated, by audition, in the Juilliard Summer Percussion Masterclass Series, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the NYU Sandbox Percussion Seminar. In addition, he has conducted original research into complex and important aspects of the intersection of music and psychology that has been accepted for presentation at international science competitions. Jacob plans to continue this music-related research in college and beyond, and he would like music performance to be a major part of his career. Jacob looks forward to attending Yale University in the fall, participating in ensembles while taking lessons at the Yale School of Music. “I am honored to receive the Long Island Music Hall of Fame scholarship because it is a testament to my passion for music and a source of great encouragement as I embark upon a musical career.”

About Luca Alexandru (Syosset, Syosset High School, Guitarist, Singer-songwriter)

Luca Alexandru

Luca Alexandru is a guitarist, singer-songwriter, and producer. In addition to his selection as the jazz guitarist of the 2022 All National Jazz Ensemble, Luca was also selected as the jazz guitaristfor the 2022 All State Vocal Jazz Ensemble, a Bass for the 2022 All State Mixed Choir, a jazz guitar alternate for the 2021 All State Jazz Ensemble, and a finalist in the 2023 All Eastern Composition Symposium. In his free time Luca likes to write and perform music with his band, play soccer on his travel team, and teach guitar lessons.

“I am so incredibly grateful to receive this scholarship. I would like to thank all of my music teachers and mentors for their guidance and for inspiring me to be the best musician I can be every day.”

Luca is very excited for his future in Boston as he plans to attend Berklee College of Music and major in Music Production and Engineering.

About Alexis Panebianco (Williston Park, Mineola High School, Voice and Trumpet)

Alexis Panebianco
Alexis Panebianco

Alexis’s passion for music grew stronger after taking part in middle and high school musicals, choirs, and marching band. There was no greater honor in her music career than being Drum Major of the Mineola Mustang Marching Band. The band achieved 1st Place in New York State Championships for three years during her tenure. Participating in the marching band gave her the opportunity to learn important life skills, such as leadership, resilience, and accountability.

Alexis has also participated in the ACDA All National Chorus, the NAFME All Eastern Chorus and NYSSMA All County and All State Chorus’s as a soprano vocalist. Alexis’s positive experiences with music solidified her plans to major in Music Education at Hofstra University.

Her family has lived on LongIsland for three generations, and she looks forward to using her education and experience to help students on Long Island grow, mature, and expand their minds in the same way the resources of Long Island and music have helped her to grow into the student and musician that she has become.

“Thank you to the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame for awarding me the 2023 Student Scholarship! I knew that music would help me find my voice and purpose from a very young age.”

About Coleman Schubart (Babylon, Babylon Jr-Sr. High School, Oboe and English Horn)

Coleman Schubart

From a large musical family, Coleman Schubart is the fifth of six siblings and has a twin sister. Coleman studied piano and cello between the ages of 6 and 10 and then picked up the saxophone in the fourth grade. By the eighth grade, his school band was drowning in saxophone players, and his band director asked him to switch to oboe. Since then, Coleman has studied oboe with Dr. Terry Keevil, the Chamber Music Director at Stony Brook University.

Coleman began participating in NYSSMA at the age of six and consistently received score of A+ each year. In the 10th and the 11thgrade, he received scores of 100 on his oboe All-State auditions. He was an All-State alternate in 11thgrade and was selected for the All-State Band in 12th grade. Coleman is a member of the Tri-M Honor Society and has played in the pit orchestra of three high school musicals, covering clarinet, saxophone and oboe parts. Throughout high school, he has been selected for many orchestra and band festivals, and in 11th grade, he was the winner of the Eastman School of Music Award.

Outside of school, Coleman is first chair oboist in the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, through which he has performed at the Tilles Center, the Staller Center, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall.

He has volunteered as a parish musician in three Long Island parishes. Under the baton of his conductor father, he has been afforded countless opportunities to play with graduate school and professional musicians in ensembles ranging from quartets to symphonic orchestras. Coleman has been engaged over the last year as a featured oboe soloist for several recitals. His most recent appearances were at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington and St. Patrick’s Church in Bay Shore.

Coleman will enter Michigan State University in the fall and will study with Dr. Nermis Mieses as a dual oboe performance and music education major. He looks forward to someday sharing his love of music with future students as his father did with him.

About the Pat DeRosa Memorial Scholarship

Pat DeRosa

Mr. Pat A. DeRosa performed for many years from Manhattan to Montauk and beyond. He taught music in Huntington and South Huntington and in 2018 the Guinness Book of World Records named him the “World’s Oldest Professional Saxophone Player”. (101 years old and still playing in 2022). Additionally, he was inducted into the Long Island Hall of Fame and the South Huntington Hall of Fame.

 Born in Brooklyn and raised in South Huntington, Pat picked up a saxophone in the Bowery with his mom at the age of 12. After High School, he worked at Grumman before he was drafted into WWII where he played with the Glenn Miller Army/Air Force Band.

After the war, he played at The Latin Quarter and the Copacabana as well as other NYC clubs while attending the Manhattan School of Music where he received a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in English Horn and Oboe. He played with Tommy Tucker, Tex Benecke, Lionel Hampton amongst others while on the road stopping to make a movie in Hollywood where he was invited to have lunch with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. When he returned home, he was introduced to John Coltrane and they played duets together for three years.

Most recently he could be seen playing with his daughter, Patricia DeRosa Padden of Montauk, on piano and his granddaughter Nicole DeRosa Padden, also of Montauk, on vocals and flute as well as sitting in with numerous bands on the East End and Western Suffolk. Pat retired from teaching in 1978 but his students continued to contact him often.

This Memorial Scholarship has been set up for a High School Senior to continue their studies in Music on the saxophone or woodwind instrument. The criteria includes a 95 or above in Music and a 90 overall average. An essay should also be provided by the student to show why they would like to continue to pursue music.

For more information about LIMEHOF’s scholarships and educational programs visit https://www.limusichalloffame.org/scholarshipsgrants/

Founded in 2004, the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall Of Fame (LIMEHOF) is a 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to the idea that Long Island’s musical and entertainment heritage is an important resource to be celebrated and preserved for future generations. The organization, which encompasses New York State’s Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, and Kings (Brooklyn) Counties, was created as a place of community that inspires and explores Long Islandmusic and entertainment in all its forms. In 2022, LIMEHOF opened its first Hall of Fame building location in Stony Brook Village. To date, the organization has inducted more than 120 musicians and music industry executives, and also offers education programs and scholarships, and awards to Long Islandstudents and educators.

A scene from the 2020 Harry Chapin documentary

By Melissa Arnold

Throughout the 1970s, singer-songwriter Harry Chapin built a high-profile music career that included more than a dozen hit singles, 11 albums and a host of awards, including two Grammys. Despite his sudden death in 1981 at only 38 years old, Chapin left behind a massive legacy through both his music and a profoundly generous spirit.

Most people know Harry Chapin for his prolific contributions to the world of folk and rock music, but the “Cat’s in the Cradle” singer was also involved in a variety of charity efforts. He was especially passionate about ending hunger around the world. In 1975, he co-founded Why Hunger, a non-profit that supports grassroots organizations in 35 countries. He was also committed to making a difference in his backyard on Long Island, and in 1980, he founded Long Island Cares, which runs food pantries throughout the area.

The documentary Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something will be screened on Saturday, May 6.

On Saturday, May 6, the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) in Stony Brook will host a charity food drive and film screening of Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something.

“Like many people, my earliest memory of Harry Chapin is when my dad would have our family listen carefully to ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ on the AM radio in our family station wagon,” said Tom Needham, LIMEHOF’s vice chairman and host of the Sounds of Film radio show on 90.1 WUSB-FM. “Harry wrote songs about everyday people and their struggles, and he had a way of connecting with his audience on a personal level. His life and career serve as a testament to the ability of music and advocacy to bring about positive change in the world.”

The documentary, released in 2020, follows Chapin from a young boy in the shadows of his jazz musician father to finding his own success. When in Doubt, Do Something paints a new picture of the singer-songwriter who used his fame as a launching point to help others and influence politics. It also features testimonials from Chapin’s family, along with fellow musicians including Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Rogers, Pat Benatar and many more.

“I always believed that at some time in our history that there would be a documentary film made about Harry’s life and dedication towards ending hunger,” said Paule Pachter, CEO of Long Island Cares. “Half of his annual concert [revenue] was used to raise funds to address food insecurity, and many schools reference Harry when discussing hunger, poverty, and social justice. I was honored to be a part of the film to discuss the founding of Long Island Cares and how we work to continue his legacy.”

According to Long Island Cares media relations specialist Peter Crescenti, there are 230,000 food-insecure individuals on Long Island today, including 68,000 children. The organization’s food pantries have seen significant increases in visitors over the past several years, a trend they anticipate will continue. But Crescenti said they are continuing to expand their reach and programs to meet the growing need.

“In addition to providing millions of pounds of food a year to more than 325 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, we also run a pantry for pet supplies and a variety of programs for young people, veterans, the homeless and others seeking support,” he said. “We are dedicated to being the voice of those who have no voice, and addressing why poverty, immigration status, racial discrimination and other root causes of hunger still exist.”

Following the film screening, Tom Needham will lead a Q&A session with members of Harry Chapin’s family and staff from LI Cares.

The event will be held at 2 p.m. May 6 at the LIMEHOF Museum, 97 Main Street, Stony Brook. Tickets are $19.50 for adults, with discounts available for seniors, veterans and children at www.limusichalloffame.org. Each ticket also includes admission to the museum. Food donations are strongly encouraged.

LIMEHOF is a not-for-profit organization — ticket sales support scholarships for high schoolers and music programs in local places of need, including hospitals and senior centers. For more information and upcoming events, visit www.limusichalloffame.org/museum. To learn more about LI Cares and how to support their mission, visit www.licares.org.

The award-winning documentayr A House Made of Splinters will be screened at John F. Kennedy Middle School on March 20.

By Tara Mae 

Documentaries are artistic passion put into practice. They require the fervor and drive not only of subjects and crew but also of those who seek to share their stories. 

The Port Jefferson Documentary Series (PJDS) has been honoring and matching such moxie since 2005 and advances the plot this season with the seven films on its spring roster. Held at 7 p.m. on every Monday in March, from the 6th to 27th; April 10 and 17; and May 22, each showing is followed by a Q&A session featuring either the director or producer of the project. 

Emceed by Tom Needham, executive producer and host of “Sounds of Film” on WUSB, the Series is a labor of love for all involved, giving both filmmakers and festival organizers the opportunity to revisit what initially drew them to these stories and share it with an attentive public.  

“I like seeing the films again. With most of these films, we have been working on arranging the screenings for at least 3 months. I really do enjoy being in the audience, seeing the films again, thinking about them for the Q&A, and noticing what the audience reacts to. And then, meeting the documentarians and hearing their stories is one of the most exciting parts of the whole process,” said PJDS co-director Lyn Boland. 

This season starts with Dr. Tony Fauci, which explores the professional and private life of a man striving not to be blinded by the spotlight as he does his job. 

Immediate Family highlights the harmonies of five star session musicians whose notes, if not their names, are famous.

A House Made of Splinters chronicles the efforts of intrepid social workers on the front lines of the war in Eastern Ukraine as they endeavor to create an orphanage oasis for children displaced by war and woe.

I Am Not  follows the journey of Oren Levy, a young adopted Israeli man who travels back to Guatemala in search of his identity. 

Lift illuminates the invisible story of homelessness in America through the experiences of a group of young homeless and home-insecure ballet dancers who are selected to study their craft at the New York Theater Ballet.

Bobi Wine: The People’s President traces the career evolution of a man from musician to politician as he heralds the opposition to Uganda’s 35-year regime. 

Lastly, Unfinished Business offers an inside look at the creation and legacy of the WNBA, as exemplified through the champion New York Liberty’s dramatic 2021 season.

“We try to balance it between serious and entertaining documentaries,” explained PJDS co-director Wendy Feinberg.

Screenings, held either at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson or John F. Kennedy Middle School in Port Jefferson Station, are arranged and organized by PJDS’s co-directors: Boland, Feinberg, and Barbara Sverd. Known as the “Film Ladies,” they are dedicated both to spotlighting the art form of documentary filmmaking and the often lesser-known stories that they champion.  

“When I choose a film to be reviewed by the film board, I feel it must tell a story, have an emotional connection and appeal to a general audience. When I view a documentary for the first time, regardless of its subject matter, I want to feel like I am taking a class and learning something new,” Sverd said. “The greatest pleasure is sharing this experience with our audience and having the director, producer or someone from the film there for the Q&A to enhance the learning experience.” 

Such an opportunity for more informed dialogue is part of the appeal for the documentarians as well; it acts as an avenue for deeper understanding between audience and artist.  

“A smaller series or festival offers a unique and intimate connection with those who come to a theater and watch your film. It’s not about the publicity, or agents, or distributors. It brings us, as filmmakers, back to the fundamental reason we made this work: to listen for an answer back,” said David Peterson, director of Lift. 

In addition to personal, there are also practical reasons that the PJDS and other such events are vital to the endurance of documentaries, a genre that generally has far less star power and thus less funding than its cinema siblings. 

“These films would never have a chance if it was not for festivals and documentary series…to get distribution is really hard. That is where PJDS and other festivals can help.  You have to show distributors that you have an audience,” said Denny Tedesco, director and executive producer of Immediate Family.

After each viewing, audience members are given the opportunity to rate the documentary: Excellent, Very Good, Good, or Poor. At the end of the season, the votes are tallied and the Audience Award winner is announced. 

The members of the Film Board, which in addition to Boland, Feinberg, and Sverd, includes Honey Katz, Lynn, and Lorie Rothstein, then chip in money to donate to an organization of the winning director’s choosing. 

Sponsored the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, Maggio Environmental, Port Jeff Storage, Inc., and Covati and Janhsen, CPAs, with funding from Suffolk County, PJDS is seeking volunteers to assist with screenings, marketing, and social media. 

Theatre Three is located at 412 Main Street, Port Jefferson. John F. Kennedy Middle School is located at 200 Jayne Blvd, Port Jefferson Station.

A season pass for all seven documentaries is $56; single tickets are $10 online or at the door. To purchase passes, tickets, or for more information, visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com.

A scene from ‘Lift.’ Photo courtesy of PJDS
Film Schedule:

■ The season begins with a screening of Dr. Tony Fauci at Theatre Three on March 6. This intimate film chronicles Fauci at home, in his office and in the corridors of power as he battles the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the political onslaught that upends his life and calls into question his 50-year career as the United States of America’s leading advocate for public health. Guest speaker is Director Mark Mannucci. Sponsored by Danfords Hotel & Marina and The Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club.

Immediate Family will be screened at Theatre Three on March 13. If you listen to 1970s pop music, you’ve undoubtedly heard these guys play, but do you know their names? The documentary highlights five talented men—Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel, Waddy Wachtel and Steve Postell—who shunned the spotlight for themselves, yet enjoyed decades of success as session musicians on iconic tracks. Guest speaker is Director Denny Tedesco. Sponsored by Danfords Hotel & Marina and The Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club and the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame in Stony Brook.

Next up is A House Made of Splinters at JFK Middle School on March 20. As the war in Eastern Ukraine takes a heavy toll on poor families living near the frontlines, a small group of strong-willed social workers works tirelessly in a special kind of orphanage to create an almost magical safe space for kids to live in while the state decides the fate of the child and family. The film is nominated for a 2023 Oscar in the documentary film category. Guest speaker is Director Simon Lereng Wilmont via pre-recorded Zoom.

I Am Not will be screened at JFK Middle School on March 27. Oren Levy, a young Israeli man, who is an adopted child with Asperger’s, faces challenges adapting. Suddenly, his life changes with the help of the camera, which becomes an extraordinary therapy tool assisting him on a long journey which takes Oren and his family to Guatemala in search of his identity. Guest speaker via Live Zoom will be Ehud Levy, Oren’s father and subject in film. Sponsored by North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station and Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook.

The season continues on April 10 at Theatre Three with Lift which shines a spotlight on the invisible story of homelessness in America through the eyes of a group of young homeless and home-insecure ballet dancers in New York City. The story centers around ballet dancer and mentor Steven Melendez, who was a seven-year-old boy living in a Bronx homeless shelter who had his life turned around when he was the recipient of the New York Theater Ballet (NYTB) Project LIFT’s generosity. Guest speakers will be Director David Petersen and Steven Melendez, Principal Dancer & Artistic Director at the New York Theatre Ballet and subject in the film.

Bobi Wine: The People’s President heads to JFK Middle School on April 17. First-time co-directors Christopher Sharp and journalist Moses Bwayo tell the story of Bobi Wine, the musician-turned-politician leading the opposition to the 35-year regime in Uganda. Withstanding arrests, torture, and violence from the government, Bobi Wine and his wife Barbie risk their own lives and the lives of their children to lead their country towards freedom. Bobi Wine: The People’s President is a brave exposition of an authoritarian government that highlights the power of documentary journalism. The film won the Hamptons Film Festival 2022 Best Documentary Audience Award. Guest speakers via Zoom will be Co-Directors Christopher Sharp and Moses Bwayo. 

Unfinished Business, the final film of the season, heads to Theatre Three on May 22. An intimate look at the formation and legacy of the WNBA, and its flagship team, the New York Liberty’s, dramatic 2021 season, as they play for acceptance, respect, and the future of basketball. The film is named for a song “Unfinished Business” written for the New York Liberty basketball team in 2001 by Joan Jett, a Liberty super-fan who appears in the film. Guest speaker is Director Alison Klayman.

The spring series kicks off with End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock.

By Heidi Sutton

The arrival of spring signals the return of a community treasure — the award-winning Port Jefferson Documentary Series. The season kicks off on Monday, April 5 and runs through May 24.

It’s been a rough road for the PJDS film committee since COVID-19 hit in March 2020, but the end result is a true testament to the resilience and staying power of this popular event. 

“We started small,” said co-director Lyn Boland in a recent phone interview. Because of the pandemic, the team, which also includes co-directors Barbara Sverd and Wendy Feinberg, Honey Katz, Lorie Rothstein and Lynn Rein, hosted mostly virtual screenings last year as their usual venues went on lockdown. In the fall they presented two drive-in screenings on Perry Street in Port Jefferson and two socially distanced screenings at Harborfront Park. 

The success from those events was encouraging and persuaded the committee to continue their mission.

“Those went really well and we really expected that we would be back at Theatre Three for the spring series, but that didn’t happen,” said Boland.

The film festival grants the committee normally relies on were canceled as well but luckily Port Jefferson Village agreed to co-sponsor part of the spring series. “Mayor Margot Garant really went out of her way to help us. Between that and funds from the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, we managed to put together a series that consists of three films online and five socially distant films in Harborfront Park,” she explained.

The selection process for choosing the eight films was also different this year, with most chosen from the South by Southwest Festival in mid-March. 

This season’s exciting lineup will explore topics such as the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, Parkinson’s disease, seeking asylum, friendships, jazz, helicopter parenting, and self-imposed quarantine. Moderated by Tom Needham, host of The Sounds of Film at WUSB radio, each documentary will be supplemented by a prerecorded Q&A with a guest speaker which can be accessed at home on YouTube. 

A highlight of the series will be the fourth film, a special screening of “Howie Mandel: But Enough About Me,” which kicks off the Harborfront Park part of the series. “We wanted to have a party to celebrate the outdoor portion of the season and this film is so delightful we decided to make it our showpiece,” said Boland.

“What we are really hoping is that people want the experience of seeing a film together again; people have watched a lot of films online during the pandemic and we are really hoping to get people to gather again outside in a lovely setting,” she added.

Since the film board’s formation back in 2005, Boland and her fellow board members have never lost their love of documentaries.

“There is something about an amazing story, with the footage from the actual event, with the real people, that brings vibrant real information to me. I think in this day and age, where everything is so fraught with “is this real?” “is that real?”, that there is something very important about seeing the actual people, the actual places; where for an hour and half, it’s the real thing. There are things we need to know, and I think that’s where we get it,” said Boland.

The first three documentaries will be screened virtually on Mondays at 7 p.m. with 48 hours to view. (See dates in sidebar) Tickets are $8. Register at www.portjeffdocumentary.com. 

A special screening of “Howie Mandel: But Enough About Me” will be held at Harborfront Park, 101 East Broadway, Port Jefferson on Monday, April 26 at sundown. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 online or in person. Rain date is the next day.

The last four documentaries will be screened at Harborfront Park at sundown. (See dates in sidebar) Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 online or in person. Rain date is the next day.

Purchase a $50 Spring series pass good for 7 films. For more information, call 631-473-5220.

Spring schedule
 End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock.

End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock

Monday, April 5 online at 7 p.m. 

End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock is the incredible story of a small group of indigenous women who risk their lives to stop the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline construction that desecrated their ancient burial and prayer sites and threatens their land, water, and very existence. When the population of their peaceful protest camp exceeds 10,000, the women unwittingly find themselves the leaders of a global movement. Guest speaker will be Shannon Kring, Director.

‘Me to Play’

Me to Play

Monday, April 12 online at 7 p.m. 

The film follows two veteran actors as they pursue a one-night-only performance of a lifetime. Dan Moran and Chris Jones, who first met while performing in A Month in the Country with Helen Mirren in 1995, are united by a mission to present Samuel Beckett’s absurdist tragicomedy Endgame if it’s the last performance they do. Coincidentally diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the same time, the actors find purpose in illuminating Beckett’s prose. Guest speaker will be Director Jim Bernfield.

‘The Jump’

The Jump

Monday, April 19 online at 7 p.m. 

In 1970, off the coast of Cape Cod, Lithuanian sailor Simas Kudirka jumped from his Soviet ship onto a US Coast Guard vessel seeking asylum. Denied refuge by the American crew, Simas was sentenced to a Soviet labor camp for treason, sparking an international cause célèbre. As his dramatic case played out in the media and up through the highest levels of the US government, this ordinary man became a symbol for freedom-seeking refugees everywhere. Guest speaker will be Giedre Žickyte, Director.

‘Howie Mandel: But Enough About Me’

Howie Mandel: But Enough About Me

Monday, April 26 at Harborfront Park

An intimate and provocative documentary, the film explores the life and career of Howie Mandel, a veteran comedian, actor and producer, arguably most known for his battle with OCD and for being a judge on America’s Got Talent rather than for his considerable comedic genius. The film delves into his early years in the comedy industry and how he became a star on one of the most beloved television series ever, St. Elsewhere. Guest speaker will be Barry Avrich, Director.

‘Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation’

Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation

Tuesday, May 4 at Harborfront Park

The documentary is a story of two of the greatest writers of the past century examined in a dialogue that stretches from their early days of friendship to their final, unsparing critiques of each other. Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams lived parallel lives and struggled with a lifelong pursuit of creativity, self-doubt, addiction, and success. Giving life to the dialogue and a physicality to their relationship, Jim Parsons is the voice of Capote and Zachary Quinto is the voice of Williams. Guest speaker is Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Director.



Monday, May 10 at Harborfront Park

Ronnie’s is a chronicle of the life of saxophonist Ronnie Scott, from poor, Jewish kid growing up in 1940s East End, London to the owner of the legendary night club, Ronnie’s. Glorious clips from performances by jazz greats spanning decades — Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Van Morrison, Chet Baker, and more — bring to life this story of a charming, talented man who secretly wrestled with his own inner demons. Guest speaker is Oliver Murray, Director.

‘Chasing Childhood’

Chasing Childhood

Monday, May 17 at Harborfront Park

Overprotected and over directed, American children are wilting under the weight of well-meaning parents. This thoughtful film follows education professionals and reformed helicopter parents who seek and offer solutions for developing more confident, independent young people while restoring some joy and freedom to childhood. Guest speaker will be Co-Director Eden Wurmfeld. 

‘Red Heaven’

Red Heaven

Monday, May 24 at Harborfront Park

A very timely film, Red Heaven explores what humans need to be happy, healthy, and sane. A crew of six non-astronauts from all over the world, chosen for their ability to survive isolation, embark on a one year mission in the Mars simulation station in a 1000 square foot dome on the red, rocky slope of a Hawaiian volcano in order to provide much-needed research for the future of space exploration. How does their mood and mental health change over time in this prescient exploration of self-imposed quarantine? Guest speakers will be Lauren DeFilippo & Katherine Gorringe, Co-Directors.


From left, Tom Needham, Julie Cohen and Wendy Feinberg at the June 25 event. Photo by Lynn Rein

By Heidi Sutton

The film ladies of the Port Jefferson Documentary Series (PJDS) hosted a special summer screening of the blockbuster documentary “RBG” to an enthusiastic sold-out crowd at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson on June 25. Wendy Feinberg, co-director of the award-winning series, introduced the event and informed the audience that the film, which explores Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s exceptional life and career, is now the highest grossing film from Magnolia Pictures.

Feinberg had met one of the co-directors, Julie Cohen, at last year’s PJDS screening of “American Veteran.” “When she told me she was working on a film about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I immediately thought,  wow, she would be a great subject,” and invited Cohen to come back when the film was completed.

“The project started about 3½ years ago when myself and Betsy West, my directing and producing partner, started to notice that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was getting quite a bit of attention,” said Cohen. “We knew her story, we knew what an amazing woman she is … and we just said someone ought to make a documentary about her and why shouldn’t it be us?”

She continued, “We approached Justice Ginsburg with this idea, this ambitious plan to make a film about her life. Her answer to us essentially was ‘not yet.’ We looked carefully over her emails — we know the Justice is a woman who chooses her words very precisely and we know two words that were not in her emails were ‘no’ and ‘never’ so we decided to proceed. ”

 The film had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and has been making the rounds ever since.

The evening was preceded by a Toast to Ruth Bader Ginsburg wine and cheese reception downstairs at Griswold’s Cafe and was followed by a Q&A with Cohen which was moderated by Tom Needham, host of “Sounds of Film” on WUSB.

Reached after the event, Feinberg said she couldn’t believe the wonderful turnout. “We knew that ‘RBG’ had already played at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington since early May, at the AMC Stony Brook 17, and at the Port Jefferson Cinemas, among others.” While the reception sold out in two weeks, the ticket sales on the day of the event was a record for the series. Feinberg attributed the evening’s success to the film’s subject, the political climate and the fact that Julie Cohen made a guest appearance. “What can top this?” she laughed.

“It really moved so many people — they just loved it,” added co-director Lyn Boland, “It was just very gratifying to feel the community together like that. The audience’s reaction was great and on point. It was an amazing night.”

The team at the Port Jefferson Documentary Series is now preparing for its exciting Fall 2018 series, which begins on Sept. 17 with “Love, Gilda” followed by “When Lambs Become Lions” and “Roll Red Roll,” among others. Visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com for updates.

The PJDS would like to thank Theatre Three, Pindar Vineyards of Port Jefferson, Wild by Nature, Pasta Pasta, Nantuckets Restaurant, C’est Cheese, Z-Pita and La Bonne Boulangerie Bakery for making the evening possible.