If you’re reading this, chances are good you have your power back on. Most of Long Island does by now, but not all of it. After Superstorm Sandy and the nor’easter that followed a week later, Long Islanders have been struggling to get back to life as usual. For those whose homes were severely damaged or lost entirely, that process will take months.
In speaking with friends, family, and complete strangers over the last few weeks, there have been two recurring themes. The first is gratitude – even people who have lost their homes or property have spoken of their gratitude for their lives and their families. The second theme is the desire to help.
Throughout the region people have stepped up to donate time, money, food and supplies. Long Island musicians have donated all of these things, plus one more – their art.
For the last few weeks, almost every gig on my Facebook event list has turned into a hurricane benefit to raise money for the Red Cross, Occupy Sandy, and smaller local organizations working in the relief effort. The Homegrown Music Cafe, Bartini Bar, Mulcahy’s, and many other local venues threw together large multi-artist benefit concerts in a matter of days. Retrofest had a concert scheduled to benefit the Long Island Crisis Center, which in turn offered up the proceeds for hurricane relief instead.
Local artists have chosen to donate tip and CD sale money and have used their shows to collect nonperishable food, coats and supplies. Jeremy Gilchrist, an artist who started his career performing around Suffolk County and hosting the Pisces Cafe’s late great open mic, wrote and recorded a song called Piano in the Street in a matter of days. He put it out as a free track with a request that listeners donate whatever they can to the Red Cross.
The relief effort is ongoing and the musical community continues to organize events and outreach as well. This Wednesday, Long Island artists Jen Chapin and Tara Eberle-Drouinn are among those performing at The Living Room’s benefit concert. On Thursday the 29th, 347 Pub in Smithtown will an event called Strong Island Women Play for Sandy Victims. Similar events and donation drives are taking shape as you read this. To stay informed, pick up local papers, ask your friends, go on Facebook and Twitter, and visit your local community centers.