Aug. 5, 2019 By Christian Murray
The sound of 1920’s big-band jazz will resonate throughout the Sunnyside shopping district Thursday.
Sunnyside Shines is hosting the 19th annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival Aug. 8 at the 46th Street Bliss Plaza, which will feature a number of local bands and dancers between 4 p.m. and 8 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 St. in Sunnyside.
Beiderbecke, who struggled with alcoholism, died on Aug. 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 Beiderbecke’s connection to the neighborhood after viewing a Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on jazz.
Maringelli, 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 apartment building where Beiderbecke lived.
Thursday’s event will begin at 4 pm. with the local jazz band Cait and the Critters and will be followed by Astoria Swing Dance before the Wolverines perform.