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Sunnyside to Honor Local Jazz Legend with Concert at Bliss Plaza Thursday

Bix Beiderbecke Concert at Bliss Plaza (Photo: Kamila Harris 2017 Photography)

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.

Sunnyside Wolverines (Photo: Kamila Harris Photography)

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.

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17 Comments

Dan o'Keefe

This is nice but BLISS PLAZA? give me a break, plaza. Its more like pi$$ plaza ,its dirty, disease infested, pidgeon coop. Fo it in a clean environment

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VelvetKnight

Cool event, but why did they change it from Sundays and shove it under the subway?

Seems like a bigger draw for families and folks from other areas to have it on the weekend in an open area.

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Jon

I grew up in the quad cities where bix was from. They do a run in his name every year in Davenport. When I moved to Sunnyside 9 years ago I was floored to find out Bix lived and died only a few blocks from my apt.

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Anthony

Me too … I found out about his apt in Sunnyside by watching the Ken Burns documentary… finally headed over there this past winter … saw the plaque & the lobby area inside … beautiful building … talked to a resident who told me about the yearly concert honoring Bix… I just remembered & looked it up … just in time … will be there on Thurs

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joe

A simple wikipedia review mentions he came to Sunnyside after his treatment for alcoholism wasn’t effective…..

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Billy

I stole the poster from the candy store on Queens Boulevard when the old Indian guy wasn’t looking! Ha, ha.

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Moldy Fig

Bix did play in some big bands, but he excelled in small group settings. The pictures here show a small group, not a big band.

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St. Rd. Dr. Ave.

you are correct… sometimes media doesn’t quite grasp some of the subtle differences (that would have been glaring errors in the 20’s). If it’s jazz and old, it must be big band! hahah. oy.

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Barbara Cronin

Hi..Grew up in Sunnyside..
Forties and fifties ..special times…luv Bix…would love to have this poster..is that possible?

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Sunnyside Shines

Barbara, we will save you a poster! Come to the Sunnyside Shines table at the Bix concert and we will have it for you. Thanks to Paul Maringelli for the design.

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