Tag Archives: Chix 6

The music scene in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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!

New year, new direction at Queens Theatre

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Carol Rosegg

Visionary Ray Cullom, the recently-instated executive director of Queens Theatre, is preparing his new domain for a metamorphosis. Astounded by the 21-year-old theatre’s immense potential, Cullom plans to turn what previously acted solely as a performance space into a full-fledged, talent-nurturing enterprise.

“[Queens Theatre] is a unique showplace unlike anything I’ve worked in before,” said Cullom. “It’s Queens’ best-kept secret.”

Well-versed in the art of conducting both for-profit and non-profit theatres, Cullom most recently performed as the managing director at the New Haven Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. Sporting a background in archaeology and history, Cullom previously regarded theatre as merely a hobby rather than a profession. Over time, his passions traded places, and theatre took center stage.

Over Cullom’s first eight months as executive director of Queens Theatre, the institution has undergone a moniker alteration. Previously regarded as the Queens Theatre in the Park, Cullom hopes the simplified name promotes recognition among the public, as well as informs people of the company’s year-round productions.

“My goal is to have the theatre buzzing with life 365 days a year,” said Cullom.

Cullom has also devised plans on how to cultivate productions from within the venue, a previously foreign concept at Queens Theatre.

Cullom’s premier event, “CHIX 6,” centers on a young artist whose drawings of super heroes come to life and assist her along her journey to self-empowerment. “CHIX 6” ran for five weeks, accumulating the highest attendance of any show in the theatre’s history. In 2012, the production plans to move to a larger venue, on Broadway.

During the production stage of “CHIX 6,” Cullom feared the show’s indie-rock filled soundtrack and ground-breaking ideals might alienate the audience. A more traditional Gershwin production trailed “CHIX 6.”

But according to Cullom, the audience asked for more.

“Our audience wants to be challenged,” said Cullom. “They want to come along for a ride with us.”

In the wake of “CHIX 6’s” success, Cullom claims the theatre is now undergoing a period of testing, rethinking previous assumptions about its audience.

According to Cullom, Queens Theatre’s upcoming season promises to hold an innovative blend of original shows, collaborative works and previously-produced pieces.

“Ella,” debuting in February, illustrates the life of “The First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald. “The Jack Cole Project,” a tribute to one of the most influential choreographers and a Queens Theatre original production, opens in May.