Performing at “Vets Rock: A Salute to Our Veterans” at the Brookhaven Amphitheatre

On September 18th, I performed at the Vets Rock concert event at the Brookhaven Amphitheatre on Long Island, with proceeds benefiting the Vets Rock organization to help veterans in need.

Produced by JVC Radio Broadcasting’s country music station, My Country 96.1 FM, the Vets Rock concert was an all-day outdoor country music festival that boasted a turnout of 7,000 Long Island country music fans! Vets Rock turned out to be even bigger than last July’s Freedom Fest on Long Island. If this large turnout isn’t a sign that country music is taking root on Long Island, I don’t know what is!

The show began at 1PM and went until 9PM that night, with platinum selling country artist Eric Church as the concert’s headlining act. Other popular country artists who performed included: Thompson Square and The Jane Dear Girls.

I opened the show with the National Anthem, after being escorted to the stage by a local American Legion Post motorcycle group on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I returned to the stage once again, later in the show, to do my 35 minute set. I sang 9 songs, both from the Me Time EP and from my upcoming LP, Sunrise Highway. Amazingly, there were audience members singing along with me to “Me Time,” “Sunrise Highway” and “I Don’t Feel Anything.” I have My Country 96.1 to thank for supporting my music and giving me the airplay that has allowed people to become so familiar with my music. I also want to thank the musicians I worked with on stage: Tony Bruno, Bobby Guy, Jules Radino, Simi Stone, Greg Smith, Colin Smith and Mike Dimeo. I am blessed to get to work with such a talented and accomplished group of musicians.

After the main part of my set, I read a poem written by a Vietnam Veteran named Walter Mooney. The poem was a poignant piece that expresses what freedom means from the point of view of a veteran who has fought for our freedoms. I then performed a song called “We’re All The Same,” written by songwriter Sheira Brayer who was in the audience. The Broadway Youth Ensemble, a group of young professional Broadway performers, sang backup for me and provided the harmonies during this song. “We’re All The Same” is a great patriotic song with a profound message: if danger came to our world there would be no racism, no prejudice… we would stand together as brothers and sisters and learn to love one another.

Country music has a way of bringing people together. I saw fans in the crowd line dancing together, socializing with one another, and the concert was truly a family affair with a lot of children in the crowd. You can feel a warm camaraderie between country music fans that you don’t always see at other types of concerts.

After my set I signed autographs for over an hour, signing everything from “Me Time”    T-shirts to boots, hats, posters and pictures. Fans of all ages, from little kids to Veterans in their 60s and 70s were lined up for autographs.

Performing at Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Fund’s 1st Annual Pink Penguin Bash

As everyone knows, I feel a strong sense of pride and commitment when it comes to supporting important causes and events on Long Island. When I got a request to perform at the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund’s 1st annual Pink Penguin Bash, I said “yes” right away! I was so honored to be invited and asked to perform by the Baldwin family, and for a cause that is very close to my heart. One of my favorite aunt’s lost her battle with breast cancer last November.

For those who aren’t familiar with Carol Baldwin, she is the mother of actors Alec, Billy, Stephen and Daniel Baldwin, and she is a breast cancer survivor and breast cancer awareness advocate. The family originates from Massapequa, NY, and all four Baldwin brothers established the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund in their mother’s name.

The Pink Penguin Bash took place on July 30th at the Long Island Atlantis Marine World Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead, NY and was emceed by WBAB 102.3 FM on air personality, Fingers. I performed a five song set along with JD Leonard who is a super talented guitarist. JD and I performed 3 songs from my EP, Me Time, including: “I Don’t Feel Anything,” “Wouldn’t Like to Know?”, and the title track, “Me Time.” We also performed two songs from my upcoming LP, Sunrise Highway: the songs “Somebody’s Baby” and the title track, “Sunrise Highway.”

The other great performers at the event were legendary rock n’ roll singer, Lita Ford; American Idol season 10 finalist, Robbie Rosen, who is so talented and such a sweet kid; and Randy Jackson from the group, Zebra, who performed an amazing rendition of “Stairway to Heaven.” Robbie Rosen sang first, followed by Randy Jackson of Zebra who invited Lita Ford up on stage with him. Lita Ford then did her set, and I went on as the final act. My guitarist, JD Leonard, picked up the harmonies for my songs beautifully, and the crowd was very receptive to us.

During the event I had the opportunity to speak with Billy Baldwin, Stephen Baldwin, and their mom, Carol Baldwin. The Baldwin family was so kind and the work they are doing for breast cancer research is remarkable. I was informed that since its inception, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund has given out $6 million in grant funding with a large portion of that grant funding having gone to breast cancer research at Upstate Medical University. In addition, the Carol M. Baldwin Fund awards multiple $50,000 grants each year to breast cancer research at the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University and University Hospital in Syracuse.

For the event, the Atlantis Aquarium was transformed into a catering hall. Many of the aquatic exhibits were table-side. They did a beautiful job decorating with pink and purple lights and penguins were dressed in pink bowties. There was also an organization at the event that was there with exotic looking rescue birds that you could stop and take pictures with.

I posed for pictures and signed plenty of autographs throughout the night, and there was a fun casino area and a Chinese auction. All in all, a very rewarding night!

Before we left, Atlantis Marine World’s curator and co-founder, Joseph Yaiullo, told me that he enjoyed my performance and he offered me a private VIP tour with my family for a private session with the penguins and seals, which sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to take him up on his offer!!