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Sunnyside’s Bix Beiderbecke Concert Hits All the Right Notes

Photo: QueensPost

Aug. 7, 2012 By Christian Murray

Sunnyside Shines kicked off its Sunnyside Summer Streets campaign on Saturday by hosting the 12th Annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert.

The sound of 1930’s jazz filled the shopping district around 46th St. and Queens Blvd. as the concert took place underneath the Sunnyside arch.

The concert was in recognition of Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke, a highly acclaimed jazz musician who lived at 43-30 46th Street before passing away on August 6, 1931, at the age of 28. A good crowd showed up in waves throughout the afternoon, despite the heat.

This year the bands included David Shenton & The Sunnyside Wolverines; Ray Osnato’s South Shore Syncopators; and the Sunnyside Drum Corps.

Paul Maringelli, who founded the event in 2001, was the announcer and played the drums with the Sunnyside Wolverines. The Beiderbecke Memorial concerts used to be held at the courtyard of All Saints Church. However, they were moved up to the Arch four years ago.

“There’s so much more room up here,” said James Bray, the executive director of Sunnyside Shines, in explaining the move. By bringing people up to the shopping area, Bray added, it also helps stimulate business.

However, the location didn’t matter for many attendees. Don Donaldson, 66, of Corona hasn’t missed a concert since its inception. “It’s always nice to hear the music again,” he said, adding that his father was the arranger for the Fats Waller Big Band from 1936-1941.

Donaldson smiled widely when the Sunnyside Wolverines started to play Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin.” “I had a tap dancing mother and a jazzman father, they’d be 106 years old today and loving this,” he said.

The South Shore Syncopators were also well received, especially the band’s singers.

One of the spectators emerged as a star. Bill Killick, an 84-year-old resident of Woodside, put on a dancing exhibition of sorts with several younger partners much to the delight of the crowd. However, there was a secret to his smoothness.

Killick’s a recently retired ballroom dancing teacher. “I taught the society crowd how to dance from Greenwich all the way down to Palm Springs–from the young women with their dainty white gloves and the young men in their grey slacks and blue blazers.”

The Beiderbecke Concert is always circled on Killick’s calendar. “I just love it. It’s a social way to get my exercise.”

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12 Comments

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sully

…i’m with Marilyn on this….i’m not disputing his ability and contributions to the jazz community….but i don’t get it….he wasn’t born in Sunnyside,nor did he live here for any real length of time …he died from the underlying cause of alcoholism plain and simple….and according to public records he in fact was accused of molesting a five year old whose father (along with the judge on the case) did not want the child to have to relive the ordeal on the stand in a trial….does anyone know how long he lived in Sunnyside? From the history,it seems this young man drifted around all over the country playing in numerous bands ….did he end up in this neighborhood simply because it was less expensive than NYC?…..is there really no other individual from Sunnyside that deserves an annual honor?…..how about all the veterans that died for their country……just wondering

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Marilyn

I believe Sunnyside Post, posted something about the event prior to the date. There was a comment about the musician being a sexual predator. BTW following that post I researched Bix and did in fact read that when he was a young man he was accused of molesting a five year old girl. The charges were dropped b/c the court decided the girl couldn’t give testimony. He was then promptly sent away to school……….. I don’t think I will be celebrating this local “hero” anymore. Do the research and make your own decision.

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Don

I don’t get the Daily News or live in Woodside, but I had heard something about this and spent a while to try to find the event info online. I didn’t see any online promotion, all the press I saw online was after the event.

I still can’t find the website for this event. Am I missing it? What’s the website address?

Reply
Deniz

Susan – actually, I think you have stumbled upon a great idea there – It would be wonderful to have some kind of an email list for those who are interested in cultural things in the area!

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Jay

I applaud the hard work of all involved, but next year they need to hold it
somewhere in the shade that doesn’t smell like rotten garbage.

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you all make me laugh

So is there a plaque at 43-30 46th street? Because It’s obvious we need to honnor Mr. Bix Beiderbecke and what he has contributed to Sunnyside. If worse comes to worse we can always rename 46th street Bix Beiderbeck Way..

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JuliaJ.

All Saints used to have this concert in its courtyard as well as the Shakespeare performances. I wish they could return there. We also used to visit the building where Bix died holding our candles in the rain!

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Susan

@ pat & Woodside….it was posted ALL over the neighborhood with signs in storefronts, it was in the Daily News, it was announced ahead of time here, so would you like a personal notification?

It is an Annual event & if you missed – hope you make it next year it is wonderful!

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Woodside

I agree with Pat above. If it not for you (Sunnyside Post) I would not know of this on fb….I’ll try to pass the info along. Hope it doesn’t rain. Is there a rain date?

Reply
Pat

Big BOO HOO on missing this concert.
Where was the publicity about the event. ????

I grew up on 46th St and have lived in Woodside all of my life
Would really have loved to attend and it is only a walk from my homw.

Again not good publicity ….

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