Sunnyside’s Bix Beiderbecke concert hits all the right notes
Sunnyside Shines kicked off its Sunnyside Summer Streets campaign on Saturday by hosting the 12th Annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert.
The sound of 1930’s jazz filled the shopping district around 46th St. and Queens Blvd. as the concert took place underneath the Sunnyside arch.
The concert was in recognition of Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke, a highly acclaimed jazz musician who lived at 43-30 46th Street before passing away on August 6, 1931, at the age of 28. A good crowd showed up in waves throughout the afternoon, despite the heat.
This year the bands included David Shenton & The Sunnyside Wolverines; Ray Osnato’s South Shore Syncopators; and the Sunnyside Drum Corps.
Paul Maringelli, who founded the event in 2001, was the announcer and played the drums with the Sunnyside Wolverines. The Beiderbecke Memorial concerts used to be held at the courtyard of All Saints Church. However, they were moved up to the Arch four years ago.
“There’s so much more room up here,” said James Bray, the executive director of Sunnyside Shines, in explaining the move. By bringing people up to the shopping area, Bray added, it also helps stimulate business.
However, the location didn’t matter for many attendees. Don Donaldson, 66, of Corona hasn’t missed a concert since its inception. “It’s always nice to hear the music again,” he said, adding that his father was the arranger for the Fats Waller Big Band from 1936-1941.
Donaldson smiled widely when the Sunnyside Wolverines started to play Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin.” “I had a tap dancing mother and a jazzman father, they’d be 106 years old today and loving this,” he said.
The South Shore Syncopators were also well received, especially the band’s singers.
One of the spectators emerged as a star. Bill Killick, an 84-year-old resident of Woodside, put on a dancing exhibition of sorts with several younger partners much to the delight of the crowd. However, there was a secret to his smoothness.
Killick’s a recently retired ballroom dancing teacher. “I taught the society crowd how to dance from Greenwich all the way down to Palm Springs–from the young women with their dainty white gloves and the young men in their grey slacks and blue blazers.”
The Beiderbecke Concert is always circled on Killick’s calendar. “I just love it. It’s a social way to get my exercise.”