Music of Long Island

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This box: view · the island has long been part of US history and is near the second most populous city in North America, yet is located in the suburbs and as such is strongly influenced by youth culture. Psychedelic rock was widely popular in the 1960s as flocks of disaffected youth travelled to NYC to participate in protest and the culture of the time. R & B also has a history in Long Island, especially in Nassau County, where population is denser and more closely influenced by New York City (Queens and Brooklyn). Long Island has more recently been known for its association with indie music as well as punk rock.


Musical artists from Long Island

Notable musicians of the Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk County) music scene include;


Famous musical artists have roots in Long Island. For example, superstar diva Mariah Carey was born and raised in Huntington in Suffolk County. R&B singer Ashanti grew up in Glen Cove, Paris-based singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy was raised in Garden City (the song "Garden City" describing his teenage years is included in the album Murph the Surf) and Billy Joel is from Hicksville in Nassau County.

Billy Joel's debut solo album, Cold Spring Harbor, was a reference to the Long Island village of the same name. Many compositions by Billy Joel pertain to life on Long Island, particularly his youth. Examples include the songs "Keepin' The Faith", "Captain Jack", "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" and most notably "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", which names local eateries and hangouts. The restaurant itself is Christiano's in Syosset, New York. Also, the song "Movin' Out" is a highly identifiable song for Long Islanders. Its commiseration of the increasing cost for living on Long Island has its protagonists working too hard just to "move up", all too familiar to this island's inhabitants. The songs "No Man's Land" and "Downeaster Alexa" lament the increasing development of the island, the latter song specifically referring to the eastern island and its effect on the fishing industry.

Hall Of Fame Songwriter Ellie Greenwich was raised in Levittown, and is responsible for some of the most recognized songs in history (Be My Baby, Chapel Of Love, Doo Wah Diddy, Leader Of the Pack to name a few). Widely regarded as the driving force behind the 'Girl Group' movement of the 50's and 60's, Ms. Greenwich's accomplishments and accolades are too numerous to mention, but include: she has received 19 BMI awards, 25 Gold & Platinum albums, her songs have sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and she was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall Of Fame in 1991. Ellie Greenwich Official Website

Heavy metal

The pioneering heavy metal/psychedelic rock group Blue Öyster Cult came together around Stony Brook University, releasing hits such as "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", "Astronomy", and "Godzilla". Pioneering technical death metal band Suffocation come from the Coram area in Suffolk County. Bleach Eater, an experimental grindcore band, are from Rocky Point in Suffolk County. Eddie Money was a graduate of Island Trees High School in Levittown. In addition, the progressive metal band Dream Theater has most of its members stemming from Long Island, including John Petrucci, John Myung, and Mike Portnoy. World-known drummer John Miceli, who plays with Meat Loaf, and formerly with Blue Oyster Cult, is from Port Jefferson. He currently resides in St. James, which is the hometown of singer/songwriter Axella Johannesson. Television and film composer Roy Harter currently resides in Manhasset. Leslie Wunderman of Baldwin, better known as the diva Taylor Dayne, had an abundance of hits in the late 1980s and in the early 1990s. Some of the members of The Good Rats and Dee Snider, the lead singer of Twisted Sister, hail from Baldwin. Four-time Grammy Award winner, Pat Benatar, grew up in Lindenhurst. Brian Setzer (Stray Cats, The Brian Setzer Orchestra), and Lee Rocker (Stray Cats) hail from Massapequa, where Stanley Drucker (principal clarinetist, New York Philharmonic) resides with his wife, clarinetist Naomi Drucker. Harry Chapin lived in Huntington until his death in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway, and was active in numerous local charities such as Long Island Cares.[4]

Rap and hip-hop

Long Island is known for producing some of the most popular acts in hip-hop and rap music. Grammy winning rap group De La Soul (Dave, Posdnuos, Masseo) came from the East Massapequa / Amityville area, ADHD, Public Enemy and Flava Flav from Roosevelt. The Hip Hop, Soul, and Rock fusion band Guitars N Bandanaz from Hempstead and Freeport, Leaders of the New School (Busta Rhymes, Charlie Brown, Dinco D, Cut Monitor Milo) from Uniondale, underground rapper Aesop Rock from Northport, All Business Records (Sense Wondah [Lindenhurst], Artifakt [Brentwood], & Stryke [Lindenhurst]), Punk Barbarians from Freeport, EPMD (Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith), Brentwood, NY Keith Murray,Central Islip, NY -Hard 2 Obtain from Lakeview, Bad Boy-associated acts Black Rob and Craig Mack grew up in Brentwood, producer Prince Paul, Goretex from Non Phixion and Supercoven R.A. The Rugged Man, Rakim from the Eric B. & Rakim rap duo hails from Wyandanch and King Myers also from Wyandanch. Saint (Producer/Emcee,The Good People) from Garden City Park, Method Man From Hempstead.


Modern music in Long Island includes indie music, which has rapidly grown in popularity, particularly in Suffolk County where the local emo and hardcore punk scene continues to grow. It has been felt nationally by the moderate success of local bands such as The Dawning, Enraged, Glassjaw, Head Automatica, Silent Majority, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Straylight Run, The Movielife, Nightmare of You, I Am the Avalanche From Autumn to Ashes, Edison Glass, Purple Gravity, and Corey Teich selling Gold albums nationwide. Many churches and synagogues, as well as VFW Halls and community centers constantly house underground shows, affording cheap entertainment and an underlying sense of "scene community". Pop punk bands also have an impressive following, with bands like Patent Pending, Jeff Orlick's Ex-Planets, SGT, topping the list of crowd pleasers. It is a self-serving "business", so to speak, and most bands that are known on the island spill over into adjoining regions such as New Jersey and Connecticut. Rising bands Envy On The Coast, Paint the Target, Tomahawk Chop, Stereo Skyline, Greyscale, and Bayside also hail from Long Island. The emerging awk-rock collective Nondance Records calls Roslyn its home. R22, Bela Kiss, The Resurrection, Anterrabae, They Fall to Pieces,The Ambition, The World We Knew, This Is Hell, Crime In Stereo, Idala, The Partisan Turbine, Two Will Witness, Sown In Tears, From The Pawn, Figure Without Form, Only Tomorrow Tells, After Chidori, and the late Skycamefalling are also frequent contributors to the LI hardcore/metalcore scene. Moreover, another hardcore band made headway in the late 90's;Overthrow. They released a full-length CD on Triple Crown Records and disbanded in 2001. Outsider punk-experimentalist bassist/flutist Steve Lieberman The Gangsta Rabbi from Freeport has played many of the largest Long Island venues as the Crazy Donkey [1], the Downtown and the Islip Pavilion, taking advantage of the "pay to play" system by purchasing all the tickets himself and distributing them to fans for free to build his audience. This helped him to be noticed by JDub Records who signed him in December, 2009 [2].

However, the Islip Pavilion is no longer in existence, and the Downtown is now the VP.


Long Island's ska scene has also garnered an impressive following. Many local venues, such as the Crazy Donkey, The Broadway Bar (The Village Pub South), and the late Downtown often hold ska-oriented concerts. The long-disbanded Edna's Goldfish, whose trombonist Ian McKenzie has gone on to join famed ska punk band Catch 22, were one of the dominant bands in the late nineties music scene on Long Island. The late High School Football Heroes also hails from LI. The experimental jazz and skacore band The Vagabonds as well as The Watergate Brigade from East Islip also calls Long Island home. The Arrogant Sons of Bitches came out of Baldwin in the mid-nineties. Though the group has since disbanded, several members continue to participate in frontman Jeff Rosenstock's current project, Bomb the Music Industry!. Groove rock band Stealing Jane is frequently found in ska lineups to their ska influences and their origins in the scene. Huntington based band Young Rebel Goombas, with their ska influenced trop-rock sound, has also found an international audience.The Scofflaws, a 1980's ska band out of Huntington, still play shows together.


The classical music scene on Long Island, as elsewhere, is struggling to find its audience in the modern world of MP3 players and brief attention spans. Despite this, several groups operate on Long Island, to varying degrees of success. Among them are:

Other Music on Long Island

Long Island has a meager Bluegrass scene spearheaded by Buddy Meriam and Backroads Bluegrass.

There is also a documentary about underground mess bands:


Huntington based Paradiddle Records is very active promoting original Long Island music. In addition to the artists signed to their label they distribute music of any Long island based musician on their web site They are very active promoting live original music including Live in the Lobby at the Patchogue Theatre. They also release a series of cover CDs that feature Long Island artists covering the music of such artists as Bob Dylan and the Kinks.

Venues and music education

The Nassau Coliseum has been the indoor arena used by national touring acts to stage concerts. Jones Beach State Park is a popular place to view summer concerts, with new as well as classic artists performing there during the summer months at its outdoor venue. It hosts a large Fourth of July fireworks show every year, and the stands are filled. People park cars along the highway leading to the show, and others watch from the nearby beaches.

In 2003, a group of local business people/music lovers began meeting to create a Long Island Music Hall of Fame. The organization was incorporated as a not for profit corporation in July 2005. It held its first inauguration ceremony in October 2006, inducting prominent musical Long Islanders from various genres and eras. Plans for the future include the creation of a physical space for a museum of Long Island music history that will also serve as a multimedia resource center, an educational facility and outreach program, and a venue for musical performance.

Long Island is also known for its schools' music programs. Many schools in Suffolk County have distinguished music programs, with high numbers of students who are accepted into the state-wide All-State music groups, or even the National All-Eastern Coast music groups. Both the Suffolk County and Nassau County Music Educator's Associations are both recognized by MENC, and host numerous events, competitions, and other music-related activities. Many schools are also well-recognized for their rich music programs, such as Stony Brook University and Long Island High School for the Arts.[5]

Online, the nonprofit Long Island Musicians Network [3] enables area musicians to easily find other players to jam with and perform. The heart of the free online venue is its members domain, where musicians can post detailed info about themselves, a photo, their musical tastes and preferences, and info about the kind of musicians they're looking to get together with. Members communicate via the Web site's free email service.

With the rise of DIY and Noise related tape culture, Long Island too saw the rise of underground noise & diy scenes which included bands such as Insect, Jazz Became Elevator Music, United States, Megerk, amongst others. The DIY co-operative also booked shows around the NYC and surrounding areas showcasing Long Island's underground.

Another DIY faction, The Long Island Alternative Music Association, interviewed various artists bringing attention to the lack of venues opening their doors to independent Long Island artists. LIAMA, as they are commonly referred to, often book shows at the Plainview Old-Bethpage Public Library, to help to alleviate the problems created in local scenes form the shortage of underground supportive venues and booking agencies. Employment for musicians has always been a challenging pursuit on Long Island, which is largely considered to be a overly saturated competition pool. The Advent of talent directories has helped stream line the relationships between venue owners and the bands that seek to play them. The days of mailing unwanted and unsolicited demos and flyers to venue owners are fast becoming a thing of the past. The reason is simple to understand when you consider the range of choices a single internet search can bring. Entire musical programs can be created and booked in less time than it takes to open and discard an unsolicited and often innapropriate demo mailing. There are many talent search engines that operate on a national platform and feature searches by region. The problem with these search engines is that they often return results based on a geographic net-throw. This usually means that a search for something local, especially on Long Island, can return results for band located in Connecticut and New England if it happens to be placed within 50 – 100 miles. There are some quality local search engines like Local Band For [4] who specialize in entertainment local only to Long Island and Metro NY.

See also


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