By Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr.
So why was a councilmember asked to write about the music scene inQueens?
Little-known fact — upon graduating college, I had to make the tough decision between going to law school and signing a record contract and touring with my band. After a (short) conversation with my father, I went to Fordham Law, joined the ranks of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, practiced as a defense attorney and was elected to serve the great people ofAstoria.
Through the years, I’ve been fortunate to sit in with local bands and even organize some of my own gigs. To celebrate my recent birthday, I joined my family onstage for a medley of rock and old-time hits. Of course my mom on sax, daughter singing “Play that Funky Music White Boy,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on drums and father on cowbell were the breakout stars (see the video on YouTube or petervallone.com). The year before, I invited two local favorites — classic rock spewing “Spitfire” and Greek heavy metal band “Iskandar” — to perform at my summer kick-off party.
As much as I love to play, I’m no longer a match for our borough’s neither musical talent — nor can I keep up with every new band — so I turned to my friends in the district and Facebook for some suggestions. Here are a few:
One of the first people I happened to speak to is the mother of Nicole Mourelatos, a.k.a. Doris Cellar, anAstorianative, bassist for the hugely popular Freelance Whales, and an up-and-coming solo artist. When she’s not touring, Cellar rehearses at Astoria Sound Works and recently filmed two music videos on theQueensboroBridge. While we’re on the subject of Queens-native rock sensations,Lourds Lane’s critically acclaimed Chix 6 rock musical just completed a successful run at Queens Theatre and is slated to appear on Broadway next year.
Astoria Music and Arts, a non-profit created byAstorianative Justin Finley to promote local bands, venues and community events, is a great resource (astoriamusicandarts.com). Each summer they organize an awesome festival at Astoria Park featuring a wide range of local talent from the catchy tunes of the“Little Creatures” (who sound like they could be on an iPhone commercial) to the great ballads of the “Dirty Wings,” to heavy metal by “Sweet Magma,” and even “Rage Against the Machine”— like anti-establishment stuff from “Illimanjaro.”
To catch some of the great acts mentioned here or one of the many great local bands, stop by Gleason’s, Waltz Astoria, Shillelagh Tavern, the Woodhaven House and LIC Bar – to name a few.
I realize I’ve left out many great bands and locations, but while my space here is limited, the music options inQueensare definitely not. Keep the suggestions coming.
Hope to see you at the next show!