Tag Archives: Music

New orchestra wants to become the sound of Flushing

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Paul Joseph

One conductor is about to add some pluck to the sound of Flushing with a new orchestra devoted to bringing classical music to the neighborhood.

“We realized there’s no orchestra in the Flushing and Bayside area,” Dong-Hyun Kim said. The Flushing native is the music director of the Nova Philharmonic and last year several local musicians convinced him to put together an orchestra devoted to central Queens.

“And we said to each other, it would be really great if we can become the official Flushing orchestra,” Kim said. “We want to make a good tradition of classical music in Flushing.”

The group of 35 musicians, called the Queensboro Symphony Orchestra, has been practicing every Sunday for their debut performance on March 22 at Mary’s Nativity Church, located at 46-02 Parsons Blvd.

Kim, 40, graduated from Queens College with a master’s degree in orchestra conducting, and after many years of teaching and directing musical performances, he has returned to the neighborhood to try to create an official orchestra for the area after feeling the borough needed more classical ensembles.

“There’s not that many orchestras in Queens so this is a really great thing,” said Paul Joseph, the music director for the Mary’s Nativity. “[Kim] is a very vibrant, passionate individual. The quality he will be bringing is much better than you’d expect from a community orchestra.”


Astoria’s The Green Gallows talk rad tunes with a side of whiskey

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Jovani Demetrie McCleary (J. Demetrie Photography)


As they sat in a Hooters an hour away from Chicago, the members of The Green Gallows opened up about the realities of touring, and their slow rise to success.

Hailing from Indiana, Michigan and Washington, Sean Ryan Donnelly, Adam Steiner and Cara Cooley, respectively, now all consider the backlands of Queens their home.

The three New York transplants joined forces in Astoria and formed the folk-rock band about two years ago, playing their first show six months later, and hitting on the road at the beginning of November for their first official tour, with singer/songwriter Meghann Wright.

Prior to joining forces, the “three musketeers” started off as two lovebirds, Cooley and Steiner, who come from a musical performing background and are currently engaged to be married.

Still, Donnelly rejects all chances of being considered a third-wheel; he claims that Cara is more of the third wheel, since he and Adam have known each other for many years. But overall, after almost a month of spending nearly every waking moment together, the band has taken things to “a whole new level,” becoming more like family, with whiskey being the fourth member.

The journey, which Cooley considers “great chaos,” has been an exhausting, yet rewarding one thus far, with only two days off since the beginning of their tour on Nov. 1.

In addition, the band has performed at the Bright Winter Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, and went on a short tour last February after the release of their EP, “Wanted.” Since then, they have performed both locally and on the road, including stops in Orlando, Chicago and Pennsylvania, and have acquired a love for playing road shows because, Donnelly said, it’s “always a treat to play for someone who’s never heard you, as opposed to at home where friends and fans know what they’re getting into.”

Essentially, what guests are getting into at a typical Green Gallows show consists of everything from foot-stomping tunes to passion-filled ballads, and whiskey-drenched performances that the three describe as “very high energy.” In other words, nothing “typical.” Instead, the band takes listeners into a world they have created where “you can expect to be taken out of your life, and whatever is going on in it, to be taken away for an hour – and just have a good time,” says Cooley.

The band will be home for Thanksgiving, and is looks forward to performing locally in Spike Hill, as well as Sweet Afton in Astoria, and more. So far, the band has released one song for download, “Brave Young Soul,” and they have taken it with them on the road, introducing listeners to their sound and style, in efforts to prepare them for their first full-length album, which they plan to record in January.

For more information on their upcoming shows, visit thegreengallows.com.


NYC musician to perform, celebrate roots at Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the Rectifist


For Rectifist vocalist Marcus Lui, performing at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is extra special.

Lui, a New York City resident but a Hong Kong native, is thrilled to be celebrating the Hong Kong tradition. His local band Rectifist, formed in June 2012, will take the stage Aug. 10 at 12:45 p.m.

“For me, I feel great because I was born in Hong Kong. I came from there,” Lui said. “Now, there is a chance for me to perform at a festival about Hong Kong.”

Lui, who used to work for the Cantonese radio station AM 1480, said he has been to the Dragon Boat Festival almost every year. This will be the first time he’s playing the music.

Usually a hard rock and metal band, Rectifist will be paying tribute to the disbanded Hong Kong rock band Beyond by playing cover songs in its upcoming performance.

“Beyond is one of the very important bands from Hong Kong,” Lui said. He said their songs talked about the world, race and other societal issues.

Rectifist currently has five band members: Steve Cheng and Sylivan Tam on the guitars, Chun Yeung Au with the bass, Jeff on the drums and Lui, also known as Spark, as the vocalist. All were involved in a prior band named X-Scale before forming Rectifist. The band is influenced by the underground rock and grunge music scene.

Rectifist, which Lui said usually plays in local city venues with two to three hundred people-audiences, will play in front of a much larger crowd in this year’s Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.



‘Quiet Clubbing’ comes to Astoria beer garden

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Quiet Events

The music booms silently at one Astoria beer garden.

Every other Friday, guests are greeted at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, located at 29-19 24th Ave., with wireless headphones and a quiet dance floor. Once they put on their headphones, the party begins.

This biweekly party is called “Quiet Clubbing” and is organized by the company Quiet Events, founded in 2012 by College Point resident William Petz after he experienced what is known as a “silent disco” on a cruise with family.

“We enjoyed it so much and thought someone had to be doing it in New York, but no one was,” Petz said. “I figured let me buy 300 headphones and worst comes to worst I sell them on eBay.”

During the event, there are three live DJs each playing a different genre of music such as hip-hop, old-school hits and top 40s. Guests put on their headphones and can switch to any of the three stations with LED lights on the headphones changing from blue, red and green, letting others know which DJ they’ve picked.

“We took a beer garden and almost turned it to a festival,” Petz said. He estimates that between 500 to 600 people attend each night, with the numbers only growing.

Petz said that although some people might assume these types of parties are “anti-social,” he believes the environment actually allows guests to get together and adjust the volume on their headphones to be able to strike up conversations.

“It kind of is weird but it is not silent, it is not quiet. People are singing to songs, laughing and having conversations with friends,” Petz said. “You can have friends who love different types of music, dancing together. We get people to do things they normally don’t want to do.”

Along with the biweekly “quiet clubbing” parties at the Beer Garden, Quiet Events, which will soon move its headquarters to Astoria, also organizes other events such as mobile parties.

During these mobile parties about 100 to 150 people are taken around New York City, all with headphones on, and walk with a certified tour guide. Petz said it is sort of like beer crawl, but guests get to learn more about the city as well.

Quiet Events also rents its equipment to other bars and clubs, and in some cases sells the equipment.

The next Quiet Clubbing party at the Beer Garden is Friday, Aug. 1, and starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 online and $10 at the door.

“The best part for me is when you talk to someone and they say they don’t get it and afterwards they love it,” Petz said “You won’t get it until you put those headphones on. It’s golden.”

For more information, click here.



Fifth annual music, art street festival coming to Sunnyside

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines

The streets of Sunnyside will be alive with the sound of music and art this summer.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District will present its fifth annual free street festival called Sunnyside Summer Strolls on Saturday, July 26 and August 2.

Sunnyside Summer Strolls will bring together local businesses, residents and local organizations under the Sunnyside arch at 46th Street, which has been transformed into a temporary public space with tables and chairs, and scheduled activities.

“Sunnyside Summer Strolls is a great community event series, designed to promote our local businesses, bring arts programming to the neighborhood and provide a temporary public space for the day,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “We are excited to partner with Re-Create QNS to bring new energy and arts expertise to the event this year.”

On Saturday, July 26 is the Children’s Arts and Crafts Fair from 1 to 6 p.m., produced in partnership with Re-Create QNS, a new coalition of creative Sunnyside organizations. Activities include face painting, water marbling, ballet, Irish step, modern dance and performances by local musicians. Families will also have the opportunity to meet with artists and teachers of neighborhood arts and enrichment programs.

Photo by Michael Rapp

“Sunnyside is home to so many innovative and passionate arts groups,” said Nancy Kleaver, Re-Create Qns director. “Re-Create QNS wants to spread the word and make more connections between the public and our local cultural institutions. It will be a fun day for kids and families to be creative together.”

Under the elevated No. 7 train, the new Bliss Plaza will host a pop-up library in partnership with the Uni Project, the Sunnyside branch of the Queens Public Library and the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.

The following Saturday,  from 2 to 7 p.m., will be the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert featuring a 1920s theme and lineup of jazz musicians and performers including The Sunnyside Wolverines featuring Linda Ipanema, The Sunnyside Social Club, The Pendulum Swings, The Sunnyside Drum Corps, and The Big Apple Lindy Hoppers.

There will also be a dance floor set up in the street, free photo booth and a 1920s costume contest. Local businesses will be on-site offering free giveaways and services.

For more information visit www.sunnysideshines.org.



Former B-52s member takes his act to TV

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Pat Irwin

“I heard the first Beatles record and I was lost forever,” said Pat Irwin.

The Long Island City based musician, once christened “a mercurial presence on the New York rock scene in the early 80s,” by the New York Time’s Robert Palmer, graced some of the forefront acts of the No Wave movement – a post-punk genre with hints of avant garde — founding The Raybeats and 8-Eyed Spy before joining the B-52s in 1989. More recently, Irwin is the genius behind soundtracks for HBO’s “Bored to Death” and Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie.”

During Iriwn’s early days on the music front in the late 70s and early 80s – an era when the city seemed to dip into obscurity – subversive art forms hit a stride.

“For as dark as that music was, the scene was very dark and Manhattan was rough,” said Irwin. “But it was violent and bright and there were musicians and painters and lines were blurring in places you could play.”

The Raybeats played shows at now-defunct downtown joints like The Mudd Club and Tier 3. It was an indie, marginal scene, defined by home-burned 45s given to bar owners in exchange for dinner and advertising for gigs by spray painting the information on a wall. Publications like The Soho Daily News and The New York Rocker illustrated which hip British band was landing on stage at the venue across the alley from your apartment.

“Things were all mixed up in a pretty great way,” said Irwin. “Filmmakers made movies that changed movies. It was an exciting time to be here. We’re kind of lucky to be alive. It was a dangerous time in New York.”

Remembering the acts that appeared on the “No New York” album, Irwin said, there’s a lot of people who didn’t survive.

“No New York” – the Brian Eno-produced No Wave auditory bible – served as Irwin’s amuse bouche into the world of underground music. Irwin said the album was more of an experience rather than an influence.

“I was there,” Irwin said. “I remember the studio. That was an amazing time.”

But Irwin’s musical upbringing began far from the concrete labyrinth of New York City in a smattering of Mid-Western states where he learned to play the piano and the guitar. As a kid, he snuck into see “Goldfinger” against his parents’ wishes. He found the soundtrack hypnotic, indicating the impetus into what would become Rock and Roll’s metamorphosis — the genre ceasing to be just Pop music as it permeated the consciousness of mainstream America, changing the way people dressed, wore their hair and even shopped.

“I love music, so [influence] is going to come from anywhere, anytime, anyplace,” said Irwin. “And it can come from jazz or classical music or a painting.”

Irwin indicated the music created in New York just before him — The Talking Heads, Blondie, Patti Smith and Iggy Pop – as major, musical influences. However, it was the independent spirit of the Ramones and punk music’s inauguration in the United States that took music to another place for Irwin.

“I listen to some of those recordings and I still get thrilled,” said Irwin.

Irwin joined the B-52s in 1989 after guitarist Ricky Wilson died of an AIDS-related illness. The band ran in the same scene as Irwin for most of the 80s, even borrowing one of his amps for a show and teaming up for gigs with The Raybeats. After Wilson passed away, Irwin said the band members, at the cusp of recording a new record, were despondent. Enlisting Irwin and Gang of Four’s Sara Lee, the newly designed B-52s set out to make what would be one of their biggest hits – “Love Shack.”

After filming the video for “Love Shack,” – perfectly apt with the zenith of MTV — the group set out on an international tour, beginning at CBGB’s in New York. By the time they reached the West Coast, they played the Greek Theatre – one of Los Angeles’ main venues.

“We got really big,” Irwin said, pointing to a photograph of the crowd from their show in Central Park, the lawn covered entirely with fans. “We blinked and that became a huge record.”

Irwin said seeing the crowd in Central Park “his moment.” Later that evening, they played as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. The underground, post-punk band with avant garde roots and sudden mainstream success, evolved.

“That’s one of the problems with a lot of popular music,” said Irwin. “When you make that kind of music you get calcified if you’re not careful.”

He said the band still plays “Rock Lobster” every night.

After 19 years with the B-52s, Irwin bitter-sweetly set off on a separate musical trajectory.

“It was a thrill for me to play with the B’s,” he said. “I was a fan. Still am.”

Irwin composed soundtracks for movies and cartoons, including the Generation X theme song from “Rocko’s Modern Life.” One of Irwin’s favorite past musical projects, composing for “Rocko” was “like being in an engine.”

“It was so liberating,” said Irwin. “We would just go into the studio and fly — I love what I get to do when I work on a cartoon. I get to make a new record every time.”

Astoria musician is a jack of all trades

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



For singer/songwriter John Presnell, no matter how many projects he has going on, it’s still not enough.

The Astoria resident is perpetually on the move, whether he is in the studio, premiering his first music video, scoring indie films or performing on stage. Most recently, he gave his first full concert in several years, supported by a backing band at Arlene’s Grocery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

“This is our first time playing together, and these guys actually just met today for our first rehearsal,” he said from the stage, eschewing the usual band introductions and instead jokingly introducing his bandmates to one another as they shook hands. Fronting his five-piece band, Presnell has a commanding presence, undoubtedly a by-product of his acting background.

His between-song banter during the show is both charming and funny, introducing songs with wit and smiles rather than the typically dry stories so many other artists present. Music may be his life, but Presnell refuses to take himself too seriously.

Growing up in a musical household, Presnell was raised on an eclectic diet of rock, jazz and classical that gave him a unique vision of what music can — and should — be. Presnell finds himself just as inspired by British songwriters like Paul McCartney and Kinks founder Ray Davies as he is by American crooners like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He holds an exceptional fondness for music from the Great American Songbook.

“The sensibility – the craft – that goes into those songs is phenomenal,” he said, adding that Cole Porter was a particular favorite.

However, Presnell expressed his frustration with the recent spate of musicians releasing albums of songs from yesteryear, including McCartney’s most recent release, “Kisses on the Bottom.” It isn’t the quality of the songs he finds dissatisfying, but instead the concept of established songwriters relying so heavily on other people’s tunes.

“The best songs [on “Kisses On The Bottom”] were the two songs McCartney had written,” Presnell said. “Imagine if he had done a whole album of songs like that!”

That particular style of playful and whimsical songwriting makes up roughly half of Presnell’s repertoire. The other side of Presnell is a spiritual one, reflected in a number of songs that deal with reincarnation and karma.

“We live in a cause-and-effect universe,” Presnell said of his philosophy.

This cosmic edge is certainly present in his work, but never overly preachy. Presnell is quick to point out the balance between his spiritual side and his knack for humor, describing his style as “elegant, but bohemian.”

This motto underlines Presnell’s most recent recording project, a collection of songs with the tentative title “Come Back Down.” Through this work, Presnell hopes to update what he calls “a more sophisticated sensibility” in popular song and bring it to modern pop music, without entering retro territory.

His refined take on songwriting is both literate and humorous, balanced by a few serious numbers. The songs – many of which he played at Arlene’s – reflect his diverse influences, ranging from Indian raga to English music hall to psychedelic pop.

With one album in its final stages, Presnell is already hard at work on unearthing years of his own demo recordings, all captured on audio cassette, to begin work on another release. He is also in the preliminary stages of drafting a musical.

Regardless of his number of current projects, Presnell looks excitedly towards his promising musical future.

Presnell’s next show will be July 25 at Zirzamin, located at 90 West Houston Street in Manhattan.

Hey mister DJ: Queens’ Elijah Strauss keeps people dancing

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Eli DJ 3

Elijah Strauss hovered over piles of equipment stacked behind the DJ booth in the lightless back room of the UC Lounge, a nondescript bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Pressing his headphones to one ear, Strauss twisted a shiny, silver knob, bringing Rihanna’s voice slowly into focus. The crowd is minimal — a group of about six close friends take up most of the club’s floor space, bouncing and shimmying. Strauss seems unaffected by his small audience. They came to dance. He came to make it happen.

Born and raised in Forest Hills, Strauss takes his love of music to the next level — DJing at clubs and bars around New York City.

Strauss exhibited an interest in DJing while in high school, but the hobby’s expensive start-up costs and his neighborhood’s lack of outlets for local spinners hindered his dream from taking off.

“Growing up, I’ve always been interested in music,” said Strauss. “In high school, I thought the idea of DJing was cool but I never had the venue or the resources.”

During Strauss’s freshmen year in college, he joined a student organization that helped provide relief for those affected by the 2007 earthquakes in Peru. While with a friend, brainstorming methods to further their efforts and accrue more funds for the victims, they stumbled upon the perfect plan – throw a raging party to raise money for Peru. The only thing missing was a DJ.

Strauss volunteered.

He bought an inexpensive mixer and gathered his favorite tunes – Top 40, Hip Hop and Reggae hits.

Strauss was nervous, calling on friends for their song suggestions and advice, mapping out every second of the evening. To his surprise, he spun for a completely packed venue. Campus security attempted to corral the crowd when the evening was expected to end, around 1:30 a.m., but the partygoers kept dancing. Strauss played Mims’s “This is Why I’m Hot” when suddenly the fire alarm began blaring.

“Apparently someone pulled the alarm because they didn’t want to leave,” laughed Strauss.

Straus claimed that following his notable premier in October of 2007, his DJ skills were at high demand from student groups and party planners across campus.

“I was not impressed with the parties there and thought I could do a better job,” said Strauss. “My DJing took off after the first party I did.”

His stage name, “DJ Fine-Nice,” derives from “finesse,” the moniker he originally sought to go by. “Finesse” proved popular among other mix masters, and the adjectives “fine” and “nice” seemed to complement the beats Strauss was working with.

During the week, Strauss works as a life coach, assisting a private client with his daily tasks and organization. It’s a new gig for the 23-year-old recent college graduate, who majored in psychology at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

He dedicates most of his time after work to improving his craft – researching and downloading new songs, editing his iTunes library and hooking up potential gigs. He says his time belongs to the music.

Strauss admits there are a few secrets to being a good DJ — being prepared, knowing your music and knowing your audience.

When he spins clubs, Strauss leans on electronic artists like Avicci, David Guetta, Afrojack and Major Lazer to keep people moving. He observes the crowd’s reactions to various songs, reflecting the feelings and themes he picks up throughout the evening as a gauge for what to play next.

And he keeps on spinning.

Interested in booking DJ Fine-Nice for a gig? Contact djfinenice@gmail.com. To listen to mixes by DJ Fine-Nice, visit http://soundcloud.com/djfinenice.


Bringing an icon to life

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Diane Cypkin

College professor by day and entertainer by night, Diane Cypkin brings nostalgia, harmony and history with her to every performance.

Born in a displaced persons camp in Munich, Germany after the war, Cypkin grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home.

Now inBrightonBeach, Brooklyn, her shtick is making sure the story of well-loved entertainer Molly Picon — said to be the star of Yiddish theater inNew York City— lives on. 

Picon, a New York-born Yiddish icon, is well-known for her theater, radio, television and film performances over the span of seven decades. The film many may remember her most for is “Yidl with His Fiddle,” which debuted in 1936. She also starred in the 1963 film “Come Blow Your Horn” and “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1971 before she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in her later years and died at age 93.

Still, the ties Cypkin has to Picon are many and strong.

Not only was Cypkin raised by a musically-inclined father and theater-loving mother, she has infinite knowledge of Yiddish theater in New York City after writing a great deal about it and even performing there for many years.

Cypkin also curated an exhibition at the Museum of the City ofNew Yorkentitled “One Hundred Years of Yiddish Theatre inNew York City” before the Lincoln Center Library of the Performing Arts inNew Yorkasked her to do an exhibition on Picon.

Now, through a few hundred artifacts — including pictures, programs, reviews, posters, music and costumes — Cypkin tells Picon’s story in English and sings her songs in Yiddish.

“I love her music, and her lyrics are poetry. When I sing it, I see it,” Cypkin said.

Although the premise of her performances revolves around the life and times of Picon, Cypkin said the concerts end up focusing more on the stories of the audience members.

“It’s Molly’s story, but it’s also our story. At the end, you end up talking about the lower east side, and the audience members all remember going to the Yiddish theater. They all remember their old homes and their parents. Molly is the icon around which our lives have turned. It’s the story about everybody who lived in her time.”

Cypkin, who recently performed forNorthShoreTowersresidents, said she got lost on her way to the venue. With no map and no G.P.S. system, Cypkin said she pulled over and found an AAA service truck on the side of the road.

“I said to him, ‘Listen, I have a show. Please lead me there,” Cypkin said. “It was just a pleasure to be there, and it was truly a wonderful audience.”

Cypkin is a professor of media and communication arts atPaceUniversityand has been teaching there for more than 20 years. In just the last year, she and her pianist Lina Panfilova have done about 30 shows throughout the tri-state area.

“I can honestly say it’s not just a concert I offer. It’s a community event,” she said. “By the time the show is over, we know each other well. I can feel the audience with me, and after the show, people run up to talk to me and share their memories. Every time I do a show, I love it all over again. I don’t get bored. You can, but I don’t.”

And Yiddish or not, Cypkin said everyone can enjoy the performance.

“You don’t have to understand every word of Yiddish. It’s the music, and it’s the way it’s presented. It’s the sound of a language.”

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!

Luxe penthouse up in smoke

| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Luxe penthouse up in smoke

A raging fire destroyed a luxurious, multimillion-dollar penthouse on the Upper East Side last night, authorities said. The blaze started at 7:50 p.m. at 2 East End Ave., quickly engulfing the three-floor penthouse in flames. It took firefighters more than an hour to get the inferno under control, the FDNY said. The triplex penthouse was taken off the market about six months ago after being listed for $14.95 million. The 6,700 square-foot condo has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a grand staircase. Read More: New York Post


Manning capable of Giant step

Eli Manning delivered a Super Bowl championship four years ago when no one thought he could, and today it is time for him to put his stamp on a special delivery postmarked New York, N.Y. Manning and the Giants were Road Warriors who rode that Big, Blue magic carpet from Tampa to Dallas to Green Bay to Glendale, Ariz., and Super Bowl XLII, and all the while old Giants Stadium sat dark and silent. It is time for Manning to show New York, show Giants fans inside MetLife Stadium, how an elite quarterback gets things done in the playoffs. Read More: New York Post


Beyonce gave birth last night: reports

Beyoncé has reportedly become Bey-MOM-cé. The superstar singer gave birth to a baby girl last night, according to her hometown paper the Houston Chronicle. The tot was delivered by c-section and hubby Jay-Z is telling pals her name is Ivy Blue Carter, E! Online reported. Both mom and daughter were doing fine. The Upper East Side medical center had been prepping a luxurious suite for her — and had just finished a major renovation of a dozen rooms and a nursing station for the pop queen and Jay-Z’s arrival, sources said. Read More: New York Post


Pizza race-slur outrage

When Harlem resident Minhee Cho, 24, ordered a small pizza from a Papa John’s restaurant, she was shocked to find that a staffer ID’d her as “lady chinky eyes” on her receipt. “I don’t think a giant corporation should write those things on a receipt,” Cho told The Post last night. “That’s poor management. It was surprising to see that on paper; if they had said it in person, it would have been worse.” Cho posted the receipt with the racial slur on her Twitter account yesterday, where it was viewed more than 100,000 times in less than four hours. Read More: New York Post


New York City school employee faked her child’s death to get extra vacation

A city school employee scammed a week off for a Costa Rica vacation by staging the mother of all hoaxes — convincing her bosses she couldn’t work because her daughter had died. Joan Barnett, a parent coordinator at the Manhattan High School of Hospitality Management, was so determined to make the spring break jaunt that she: Had one of her daughters call the school to say that her sister had suffered a heart attack in Costa Rica. Had another daughter call the school later that day to say that the sister had died and that about a dozen relatives, including Barnett, were traveling to the country for a funeral. Faxed a forged death certificate of her daughter “Xinia Daley Herman” to school as proof of the death. The document is required if a city school employee asks for bereavement days. Thanks to the scam, Barnett, 58, was able to spend 21/2 weeks in March 2010 — including her school-sanctioned spring break — in the tropical paradise, city investigators said. But the fun in the sun didn’t last long. Read More: Daily News


What’s Happening This Weekend

| tcimino@queenscourier.com


Friday, October 14 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Flushing Town Hall: The Collage Aesthetic of Louis Armstrong – In the Cause of Happiness;


Friday, October 14 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Flushing Town Hall: The Collage Aesthetic of Louis Armstrong – In the Cause of Happiness; made for an exhibition at Lincoln Center, the Louis Armstrong Collage Exhibition features reproductions of some of the remarkable collages created by Louis Armstrong affixed to the boxes of his audio tapes, and introduces audiences to this very public man who could turn his irrepressible creativity to arts other than music; visit www.flushingtownhall.com or call 718-463-7700 for more details.

November 3-13 Queens Theatre in the Park: ‘S Wonderful; five mini-musicals take audiences on an all-singing, all-dancing ride to the places, times and styles that made the Gershwins the most successful songwriting team in musical history; featuring more than 40 classic hits including “I Got Rhythm,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Rhapsody in Blue,” ‘S Wonderful will have you tapping your toes to the fascinating rhythms of George & Ira Gershwin; visit www.queenstheatre.org or call 718-760-0064.


Sunday, October 16 Queens Botanical Garden: Harvest Fest and Pumpkin Patch; Queens Botanical Garden will usher in the autumn months with the Harvest Fest & Pumpkin Patch celebration. The family-friendly event will celebrate the season with food – including barbecue from Famous Dave’s BBQ and a beer tent – live bluegrass music, storytelling, poetry readings, garden workshops and tours, children’s activities, as well as craft vendors; visit www.queensbotanical.org or call (718) 886-3800 for more information.

Sunday, October 16 Bell Boulevard: The Second Annual Bayside Village Arts and Crafts Fair; the emphasis of this year’s fair will shift slightly to the visual and performing, cultural arts with entertainment that will expand from some soft acoustic musical groups and individual local musical artisans to include some of the performing arts and dance groups based in the Bayside business district; items for sale; visit www.baysidebid.com or call 718-423-2434 for more information.

Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16 Free Tours for openhousenewyork Weekend; The c. 1887 Officers’ Club, home of Bayside Historical Society, will be among some 200 architecturally-significant sites across NYC spotlighted during the 9th annual openhousenewyork Weekend, the nation’s largest architecture and design event; visit www.baysidehistorical.org or call 718-352-1548.


7 p.m. Immaculate Conception Church in Astora: Film Festival, The Force of Evil; all are welcome to join members of the Immaculate Conception Church to watch “The Dark Knight” (Oct. 14), “Never Let Me Go” (Oct. 21) and “The Exorcist” (Oct. 28); each movie night will feature guest speakers; visit www.ic-astoria.org.
October 14-16 The Astoria/LIC International Film Festival: an exciting mix of submissions is sure to make the second annual Astoria/LIC International Film; visit www.astorialic.com for a list of films, events and venues.

4 p.m. Far Rockaway Library: The Traditional Sounds and Dance of Veracruz, Mexico; celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with the traditional sounds and dance of Veracruz, Mexico with Radio Jarocho, a New York City-based group devoted to the son jarocho and fandango traditions from southern Veracruz, Mexico; call 718-327-2549.

2:30 p.m. Hollis Library: An Afternoon of Theater; enjoy scenes from the works of modern American writers such as Neil Simon, Ivan Menchell and John Steinbeck; call 718-465-7355.


2-5 p.m. Community Church of Douglaston: Heaven on Earth; celebrate the rebirth and renewal of the historic 1850’s cottage at the Community Church of Douglaston; open house and tours; presented by the Douglaston and Little Neck Historical Society; visit www.dlnhs.org.

2 p.m. Flushing Library: Where the Water Lies; ancient and modern, east and west converge in music performed on Chinese and Western instruments; call 718-661-1200.

2 p.m. Flushing Library: Lung and Esophageal Cancer; Dr. Andrew J. Kaufman, assistant professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, will talk about general lung diseases, lung and esophageal cancer, care, prevention and surgery; Q&A and discussion will follow. In English with Chinese translation; call 718-661-1200.


3 p.m. Queensborough Performing Arts Center: Three Mo’ Tenors; conceived and directed by the highly acclaimed veteran Broadway performer, choreographer and director, Marion J. Caffey, Three Mo’ Tenors showcases the extraordinary versatility of African-American tenors who can sing it all; For more information about this event and other upcoming shows, contact the QPAC Box Office at 718-631-6311; tickets are also available online at www.visitQPAC.org.


5-6:30 p.m. Campbell Dome at Queens College: A Conversation with Orhan Pamuk; the 2006 Nobel Prize winner for literature will discuss his work with a Queens College professor reflecting on the challenges of translating his work for world audiences; his appearance is part of the college’s “Year of Turkey: Exploring Past, Present, Future,” a series of cultural events taking place through June 2012; call 718-997-5000 or visit www.qc.cuny.edu.

6 p.m. Arverne Library: Pauline Jean; vocalist Pauline Jean sings classic jazz and Motown hits by groups like The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and much, much more; call 718-634-4784.

2 p.m. Long Island City Library: Financial Empowerment Center; Come talk to a financial counselor and learn how to work with your credit, debt, household budget and money management in general. To register, call the Queens Financial Empowerment Center at 646-810-4050, ext. 112 and indicate that you want to register for a session at Queens Library. You can also call 3-1-1 and ask for the Financial Empowerment in Queens; you will be connected to the same phone line.

6 p.m. Long Island City Library: Applying for Benefits; learn how to apply for various benefits. This program is hands-on and library staff will assist attendees preparing to apply for benefits such as Medicaid, Safelink and food stamps; call 718-752-3700.

6:30 p.m., Windsor Park Library: Information Literacy for Kids; join the library for our first ever information literacy class for children and their parents; learn how to find books in the library and use our many wonderful resources for school projects. This program is in four required sessions and is for children in Grades 3-5; call 718-468-8300.

7 p.m. South Ozone Park Library: Help Save a Life: Learn CPR – Free On-Site Training for Adults; the FDNY Mobile CPR Training Unit provides adult CPR awareness with hands-on participation to help you learn the core skills of CPR; knowing CPR cardio-pulmonary resuscitation can make a difference in saving a family member, friend or co-worker’s life; preregistration is required; call the library or come in and sign up at the Information Desk; call 718-529-1660.


6:30 p.m. Queens College’s Rosenthal Library: U.S. Poet Laureate Phillip Levine; called one of America’s great narrative poets, Phillip Levine will read from his work to students, faculty and members of the community; Levine has won almost every major writing award including a Pulitzer Prize in 1995; visit www.qc.cuny.edu or visit 718-997-5000.

1:30 p.m. Queens Historical Society: Third Tuesday Movie Matinees (Growing up Queens: A Study of Childhood in Our Unique Borough); Queens Historical Society is pleased to present their newest event series, Third Tuesday Movie Matinees, featuring movies evoking childhood and celebrating memories of growing up in New York; call 718-939-0647.

2:30 p.m. Auburndale Library: Pianist David Heckendorn; a tribute to Leonid Levin, performed by Pianist David Heckendorn with music from classic American films: “The Sound of Music,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Schindler’s List,” “The Godfather,” and popular songs by the great American songwriters Gershwin, Porter and Kern.

6:30 p.m. Central Library: Your Own Business: The Nuts & Bolts of Getting Started; learn how to develop your idea into a business plan; participants will learn creating a demand for your product/service, setting goals and objectives, budgeting and timelines; identifying resources and networks, getting ready to open your doors; every Tuesday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Job Information Center; to register, please call 718-990-5102.

6:30 p.m. Central Library: Staying Healthy and Losing Weight Naturally in a Chemically Toxic World; Dr. Jesson Manukonda, M.D., will provide practical yet powerful lifestyle strategies for weight loss, fitness, disease prevention and natural treatments for most diseases; call 718-990-0700.


Sunday, October 23 at 10 a.m. Reform Temple of Forest Hills: Talk on Homelessness in America; a discussion regarding how homelessness can relate to trauma, violence and mental illness; to register, visit www.rtfh.org or call the temple at 718-261-2900.

Wednesday, October 26 from 6:30-9 p.m. Manhattan Penthouse (80 Fifth Avenue): New York Asian Women’s Center 29th Anniversary Benefit and Phoenix Awards; silent auction, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails; tickets can be purchased online at www.nycharities.org, keyword: New York Asian Women’s Center; call 646-502-5337 or visit www.nyawc.org for more information.

Through October 30 Queens Theatre in the Park: Chix 6; The pre-Broadway tryout of an exciting original musical by indie rock sensation and Queens native Lourds Lane; the story of a comic book artist whose superheroine characters leap off the page to teach her how to love herself; call 718-760-0064 or visit www.queenstheatre.org for ticket information.

Through November 12 Voelker Orth Museum: The Allure of Red; an eclectic mix of photographs taken by Greta M. Jaklitsch over a number of years; all photos are limited editions taken with 35mm film, not enhanced or altered; call 718-359-6227 or visit www.vomuseum.org.

Astoria Boulevard: Voices in Motion

| bdoda@queenscourier.com


Astoria Boulevard – one the most popular indie folk/pop acts in the New York City circuit – was never meant to be a band. It happened by chance. Founding members Dan Scott and Phillip Drennen, who met while on the national tour of Altar Boyz – a mockumentary musical of sorts – passed the time between shows by fooling around with a ukulele and writing music. By the time they got back to New York, they had enough solid songs ready for to be recorded.

“We played them for the cast and they thought we had something special going,” said Drennen. “We immediately got ourselves into a recording studio and self-produced a five song EP entitled ‘One of These Days.’ Our friends seemed to respond very positively to our music, so we put together an EP release party.”

Before they could perform their songs for the first time with a full band, they needed someone who knew his way around the acoustic guitar while adding a third part harmony. Through cosmic intervention, they both knew the right man for the job. Max Demers went to high school with Drennen. They sang in several groups together and later met Scott singing in the “Voices of Gotham,” a New York City barbershop quartet. He also turned out to be a great songwriter, according to his band mates.

“When we got together for our first rehearsal, the sound of three voices singing our music seemed to be the missing link. From then on, our duo was a trio.”

While the introspective storytelling, feel-good songwriting and unsuspecting old-school vibes are core strengths of the band, their ability to “hook-up” during moving harmonies gives Astoria Boulevard a decisive edge. When listening to their first full-length album, “This is Astoria Boulevard” listeners will hear that no one part is greater than the whole. For a band comprised of 20-somethings, it’s the vocals that are mature beyond their years.

“All three of us started harmonizing at a young age,” said Drennen. “Much like dancing or painting, there is a natural skill that people are born with, but if it’s nurtured at an earlier age, it becomes second nature. . . The only way to keep our harmonies tight is to listen to each other. Before shows, we sing through songs just to listen and lock chords, even songs we’ve been singing for a couple years. That being said, we knew there was quite a strong chemistry between the three of us from the first time we sang together.”

Like other emerging Queens artists, the band members are supportive of the local scene citing other acts like Aaron Lavigne, The Yes Team and Mat Snow.

“[The Queens music scene] is up and coming at the moment,” said Scott. “There are many great bands and singers and songwriters just waiting to be discovered.”

“When we first started out, we played an open mic night at Waltz Astoria,” Drennen continued. “It’s a great place for emerging artists to try out materials and get comfortable in front of an audience. It’s a gracious crowd.”

After playing more and more shows, the gracious crowd is beginning to reciprocate the love the band feels for their audience by singing along to songs like “Just So You Know” – the first song they wrote together and “Pappy Van Winkle” – a staple at their live shows and self-professed buddy-drinking anthem.
“The ultimate goal of any artist is to have some sort of impact on people’s lives and give them an outlet to deal with the emotions they’re feeling, be it good or bad,” said Drennen. “Early on, a friend of mine posted “Just so you know, I like my coffee black” (a line from “Just So You Know”) on his Facebook status and I got major butterflies in my stomach. It’s very rewarding to hear people say “I know how you feel,” or “Did you write that song about me?” It means we’re able to take something specific and make it accessible for the general public.”

With bands like The Shins, The Avett Brothers, The Decembrists and Mumford and Sons bringing folk rock back to the forefront of the music scene, the timing could not be more perfect for Astoria Boulevard to make their mark. Currently, they are focusing on playing live shows in New York City with aspirations of branching out to other cities like Philadelphia and Boston. Like their laid back album, the band is taking things as they come and is grateful to be invited to play venues and events.

Their music is available on iTunes and on their website www.astoria-boulevard.com. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to learn about upcoming gigs. For a band that almost never was, they are certainly happy to have a fan base that gets their music and feels the universal themes in their songs.

“Our goal for every show we play, every song we write is never to say, ‘look how cool we are, look how high we can sing, look how trendy our clothes are.’ It’s to say music should be fun, stories should be told, and as humans, our basic emotions are all the same. . . Maybe we won’t change the world with our music or solve your problems, but I bet you’d forget about them if you came to our show. And I’m sure you’d be smiling,” said Drennen.