July 25, 2017 By Jason Cohen
The sound of 1920’s big-band jazz will resonate throughout the Sunnyside shopping district on Thursday, August 3.
Sunnyside Shines is hosting the 17th annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival at 46th Street Bliss Plaza, which will feature a number of local musicians and dancers between 5 pm and 7 pm.
The annual concert is in recognition of Bix Beiderbecke, a highly-acclaimed jazz musician who grew up in Davenport, Iowa, before living out his final days at 43-30 46th Street.
Beiderbecke, who struggled with alcoholism, died on August 6, 1931, at the age of 28.
The Sunnyside Wolverines, a pickup band, comes together each year for this festival. Paul Maringelli, a Sunnyside resident and jazz fanatic, is the band’s organizer.
Maringelli founded the event in 2001, after discovering Biederbecke’s connection to the neighborhood after viewing a Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on jazz.
Marringelli, who plays the drums with the Wolverines, was able to document Beiderbecke’s history in the neighborhood after he tracked down the jazz great’s great nephew.
The concert was held at the All Saints Church courtyard in its earlier years, before Maringelli joined forces with Sunnyside Shines and moved it to the Arch and now Bliss Plaza.
Today, there is a plaque outside the Sunnyside building where Beiderbecke lived, which Maringelli advocated for.
The August 3 festival is part of the Sunnyside Shines Summer Thursdays series. The BID hosts events under Bliss Plaza every Thursday, between 3pm and 7pm, until Sept 7.
Jaime Faye-Bean, the executive director of Sunnyside Shines, said more than 1,000 people attended the Beiderbecke event last year.
“It’s a very festive community gathering,” she said. “People look forward to it every year. “It’s one of the focal points of the neighborhood.”
The festival will conclude with a procession to Beiderbecke’s apartment building on 46th Street.
The full schedule of Summer Thursdays performances and activities, as well as details on the Bix Memorial Concert, is available at www.sunnysideshines.org.