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

Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival in 2017 (Photo: Kamila Harris Photography)

Aug. 6, 2018 By Christian Murray

The sound of 1920’s big-band jazz will resonate throughout the Sunnyside shopping district Tuesday.

Sunnyside Shines is hosting the 18th annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival tomorrow at the 46th Street Bliss Plaza, which will feature a number of local bands and dancers between 5 p.m. and 9 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.

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 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 apartment building where Beiderbecke lived.

“The Bix concert has become a beloved annual tradition in Sunnyside, and each year more Sunnysiders become aware of Bix’s story and attend the festivities,” said Jaime-Faye Bean, executive director for Sunnyside Shines.

Tomorrow’s event will begin at 5 pm. with a local jazz band called Cait and the Critters, and will be followed by Swing Dance Astoria, which will play jazz and teach attendees how to swing dance.

The Sunnyside Wolverines will come on at 7 p.m.

Sunnyside Wolverines (Photo: Kamila Harris Photography)

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Joanne Billharz

Glad to see this expanding and continuing. Original funding and plaque was paid for by Sunnyside Kiwanis. Kiwanis is all volunteers and is the oldest service organization in the area. Now 71 year old. Started in 1947 by Henri Billharz.


Stumbled upon this when I got off the train last night. What a treat! One of those magic NYC moments.

Sunnyside Royalty

Bliss Plaza?! Sunnyside shopping district?!! BWAAHAHAHAHA!! Be sure to sample the gourmet deliciousness at Alpha Croissants and visit the jewelry exchange program, formerly known as the pawn shop. If you need a rest, have a seat on the cherry wood Adirondack benches, formerly known as worn, splintered benches covered in guano (formerly known as bird crap).

sunnyside proud

wow.. “Sunnyside Royalty” and all the deadbeats who upvoted this comment, seriously? This is a fantastic neighborhood, getting better all the time. It was a wonderful evening, completely free of charge. If you cannot appreciate it why not f* off to where the rednecks live.


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