The list of famous Long Island musicians is long - Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, Harry Chapin, on and on.
Who might be next? On Saturday March 2, Great Neck Arts Center aimed to answer that question as they crowned the very first champion of what they called "Your Big Break," a take on a musical artist talent competition.
After much deliberation and five incredible sets of music, it was decided that the young rock stars Youth Be Told, a dynamic band of 13 and 14 year-olds who make you think of what it was like to see the young Beatles just starting out, would be chosen as the inaugural champion.
This search for the next big thing to come off Long Island - with a little help from some of their friends in the music industry - began several months ago with an open call and online submission process, followed by two semi final performances that culminated in this very special final evening of local music.
Their first Semifinals show was on December 15 with two finalists chosen - the eventual winners Youth Be Told, the classic rock superstars who - although born in the late 90's - are able to evoke the sounds of Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin with precision, and Jillian Rae, a wonderful singer/songwriter from Cold Spring Harbor in the vein of Colbie Calliet and Carrie Underwood.
The second installment was on January 12 and the finalists chosen were multi instrumentalist and performer Andrew Gabriel from Ronkonkoma, who brought a John Mayer meets Jeff Buckley vibe, and the South African born and Great Neck native Yael Lerato who was equal parts Adele and Tracy Chapman, and came in second place in the finals.
All four artists plus the wild card audience choice winners, the boys of DOINK! from Glen Cove, performed at the finals on March 2 to a sold out and enthusiastic crowd.
Judging was based on performance, raw talent and overall presentation of their songs - and counted for two-thirds of the total vote tally. The remaining one-third was based on audience participation.
Some of the many music business executives, producers, radio & TV personalities, and special guests who judged critiqued the acts were: Richard Pawelczyk - Webster Hall(who offered an opening slot for a national act to the winner); David Caggiano – Betamax Recording Studios (who offered a one song recording to the winner); Linda Ingrisano - Five Towns College (who offered a one hour mentoring session to the winner and also to the runner up Yael Lerato); Jerry Lembo - Jerry Lembo Entertainment Group (who offered a one hour music industry tutoring call to the winner); Guy Brogna – All Music Inc (who offered a $250 gift certificate to the winner).
Also, Steve Tramposch – Launchpad Entertainment - former Elektra and Capitol A&R exec; Adam Craig Ellis - The Paramount; Peter Abraham - BB Kings Blues Club; Sam Fruner – Loaded Rock Shows; Tito Batista - Black Rose Productions; Randy Nichols - Force Management; Rob Rush - Radio Personality; Bill Edwards - Radio Personality; Bernadette Giacomazzo - Writer/Photographer; Matthew Reich - Lights Resolve; Billy and Bobby Allesi- Alessi Brothers; Cathy Henderson - Antigone Rising; Richard Petrello – Petrel; and Tara Eberle-Drouin - Songwriter for the band Iridesense.
The Gold Coast Acoustic Café is a monthly series at the Great Neck Arts Center that features an eclectic mix of the very best in musical entertainment offered on Long Island. It is produced by Great Neck Arts Center with Love Revolution Org and is sponsored in part by Richland Management Company, All Music Inc, Starbucks, Westy's Storage and Re/Max Town & Country. All funds raised go to support the School for the Arts, Scholarship Program, and Outreach Program at Great Neck Arts Center, which currently serves thousands of students in the region.
The Your Big Break showcases were a first in what is planned to be a yearly contest to support and promote young musicians in the area. Additionally, performers who participated in this showcase will be used as opening acts for many other upcoming events at the Great Neck Arts Center and at affiliated company programs.
Stop down to the Great Neck Arts Center on Saturday March 16 as the Gold Coast Acoustic Cafe continues with Walking The Line - a Tribute to Johnny Cash featuring Tom Cavanagh & friends plus a special guest appearance by Scott James. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, cash bar and refreshments will be available.
The Great Neck Arts Center is located at 113 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, NY 11021 516-829-2570
For more information about the Great Neck Arts Center, visit www.greatneckarts.org.