July 13, 2012 By Bill Parry
When Steve Reilly took to the stage to open the Skillman Live Music Fest at the Windmuller Park Band Shell Thursday night, he had trouble getting the small crowd to sing along.
“I knew going in that there wouldn’t be many people at 6 p.m.,” he said. However, within an hour, the audience grew to well over 300, according to police estimates.
“It’s a great night for good music,” said local resident Deb Leichtman. “They should’ve done this a long time ago,” she added, referring to the six bars on Skillman Avenue and Woodside on the Move, the non-profit, that organized the festival.
Nick Morris attended the event with his two daughters and the family dog. “It’s great to see all these people–many I haven’t seen in awhile,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tim Kolk arrived with his son Miles, and said: “It’s a great thing for the neighborhood, especially during the week.”
Woodside on the Move has a long history of holding several events like this each year. However, this year it hasn’t been able to organize as many.
“We’ve had budget cuts and these events aren’t cheap,” explained Adrian Bordoni, the executive director, of Woodside on the Move. “It costs about $4,000 with all the expenses like permits, a sound system, staff time and advertisements,” he said. “It all adds up and that’s why the sponsors are so important.”
The sponsors each covered the cost of one of the six bands, which played from 6 p.m. through 9 p.m. The sponsors were the Copper Kettle, Flynn’s Garden Inn, Murphy’s, Claret Wine Bar, The Brogue and The Dog and Duck.
The aim of the event was to raise money for Woodside on the Move while raising the profile of Skillman Ave. The bar owners sold raffle tickets and held a 50-50 in aid of the organization, which performs a range of functions—from children’s programs to senior services. The top prize last night was $1,300 in cash.
Meanwhile, Mike Murphy, the owner of Murphy’s, said, “It’s wonderful for the community and we should make it an annual event.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said the event was just another example of “the renaissance of Skillman Avenue.”
“It’s important that we work together on the popularity of our street,” said a Justin Costello of Claret Wine Bar.
The music was the focus of the evening, with Steve Reilly followed by BenTK, Sean Henshaw, The Dang-it Bobbys, Kevin Ford and Chris Campion.
For Campion the evening had special meaning, since he had just moved back to Woodside, the place where he was born.
“I was born here but grew up on Long Island then bounced around the West Village during the whole downtown scene. I moved back here in January to settle into the married life,” he said on stage.
When he finished his set, he looked at the crowd and declared: “This was like a second baptism, kind of a welcome home party…What a fun night!”
At the concert’s end, the bands and many of the attendees went back to Skillman Avenue to play on.