Tag Archives: Walker Hornung

Rockstock and Barrels Festival to hit the sand

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jimmy Dowd

A local summer festival is getting ready to officially rock the beach for the first time.

The eighth annual Rockstock and Barrels Festival, a free event at Rockaway Beach featuring live music, a surf competition, skating demonstrations, beach games and vendors, will move from the boardwalk to the sand this year, according to co-founder Jimmy Dowd.

Held on Saturday, June 28, starting at 10 a.m., the day-long festival kicks off the summer and helps the local community.

“It has been doing a lot of good things for the neighborhoods,” Dowd said.

Proceeds from the event, through the nonprofit organization Rockaway Beach Surf Club, are used for projects in the community, such as for construction at the skate park at 90th Street, located next to the beach where the event is held, and other causes, including sending inner city children to surf camp and introducing martial arts to kids through the mentoring program STOKED.

Dowd of St James Clothing founded the festival in 2006 with Walker Hornung of Invisible Sun Booking Agency and Into the Whip Records, and Steve Stathis of Boarders Surf Shop.

Since that time the event has grown, but “it’s finally really catching some headway,” Dowd said, and in the last two years it’s starting to get recognized by larger corporations.

Co-sponsored by the city’s Parks Department, it’s the largest event the department holds in the Rockaways, Dowd said.

According to event organizers, this year in particular shows the recovery of the community and how it has rebuilt after Sandy.

Dowd sees the move to the beach as “a celebratory thing,” as they are finally getting the sand that they’ve been promising. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer crews have been placing sand onto Rockaway Beach to help repair and restore the area following Superstorm Sandy.

“We can actually utilize the beach,” he said.

This year attendees will be able to enjoy beach games, such as volleyball and possibly horseshoes.

Though the beach has not been the center of previous Rockstock and Barrels Festivals, it has played an important role through the surf competition.

Sponsored by the Atlantic Surf Federation, “people come from far and near for this event,” Dowd said.

The festival, which was attended by almost 8,000 people last year, attracts visitors from all over the city and beyond. To service them, OvRride will have special “luxury buses” with pick-ups and drop-offs in Manhattan and Williamsburg, according to Dowd.

Rockstock and Barrels will additionally feature companies that come to share their goods, and the event is still accepting vendors and seeking more sponsors.

To find out more about the festival, and vendor and sponsorship opportunities, click here.

“We just want to see the event grow… to bring awareness to how amazing this beach is,” Dowd said.




New album benefits Sandy victims

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



In the midst of a storm, he kept his head up high. Most importantly, he turned the bad into something good for everyone and gave them a reason to smile.

Musician Walker Hornung—who has been writing and performing over the years with The Brotherhood of the Grape, Xtatik, Q-South and other bands—came up with a terrific idea after Superstorm Sandy devastated the east coast last October. Seeing the destruction around him drove him to create a compilation album, Greetings from South Queens—Songs That Survived SuperStorm Sandy, which has already sold more than 2,000 copies.

“Everybody was helping each other, doing things,” said the Howard Beach native who now lives in Island Park. “The only thing I know how to do is music. I’m not a plumber; it was my only logical approach.” As a result, he used the skills he has to lend a hand.

Hornung was personally affected by the hurricane. “We had no lights for six weeks,” he noted. “There was no power where I lived. I had to move my family out.”

But he stayed, despite the conditions. “Somebody had to stay behind,” he lamented. Without any protection for the home, Hornung felt he needed to look after the material things for which he was responsible. “It was me, my guitar and my dog.”

That’s when the idea to cut an album came to him, and he reached out to the bands that normally take part in Rockaway Beach’s annual Rockstock and Barrels Surf Festival to see if they were interested in contributing songs.

They were.

Hornung—who contributed three tracks to the album—received hundreds of submissions from different bands that wished to take part in the project. However, to keep the connection to the hurricane, he set a few rules.

“First of all, you had to be from one of the affected areas,” Hornung explained. “Some bands lost all of their equipment.” So he kept the focus on artists that were really impacted by Sandy, and he gathered 17 talented acts.

The songs that appear on the album had been previously recorded but never used before, so they are all new.

“These are really good bands with really good songs,” Hornung concluded.

The record was produced by Frank Persico (a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Ozone Park) and Into the Whip Records paid for the first 1,000 copies of the record.

Each band on the album was given a number of CDs to sell and the freedom to choose the organization they wanted to donate the proceeds to. Some of the charities that received revenue from sales are the Robin Hood Foundation, whose Robin Hood Relief Fund is targeted at areas hard hit by Sandy, and Rockaway W.I.S.H., headquartered in one of the communities most devastated by the storm.

As for the Rockstock and Barrels Surf Festival, although things may have changed because of the storm, Hornung’s spirits are high. “A lot of these places are gone,” he explained. “[However], we want to keep pushing forward.” He said the festival would be back this year.

The digital version of Greetings from South Queens can be purchased for $9.99 on iTunes. If you prefer a hard copy, contact Hornung via email at walker@brotherhoodofthegrape or buy it from cdbaby.com.