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 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
July 2, 1987
by David Abels

 

 

 

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 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
July 2, 1987
by David Abels

 

 

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 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
July 2, 1987
by David Abels

 

 

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 NEWSDAY, THURSDAY, JULY 2, 1987

Local Pros Bag Gigs for a Night
Playing Their Way Out of a Paper Bag

By David Abels
 WITH THEIR specially chosen nicknames on the back of their new gray shirts, they looked very much like an odd baseball team. Ba-ba was there to sing for her third time. For Old Number 7 and Oral Sax, it was the seventh trip to the stage. There were dueling James Browns, long blues jams and "I Got You, Babe" sung by a mock Jim and Tammy Bakker, both in drag. The audience walked around in hats made of paper bags. This year's "Paper Bag" concert was underway.

In what was billed as "The 10th Year Jubilee" of the "World's Longest Running 30-Piece Rock Band," nearly 60 Huntington-area professional musicians came together Tuesday at Rumrunner in Oyster Bay. The idea for an annual mass concert by area musicians grew from a three-day picnic that Mike Guido, "Paper Bag's" organizer, had attended in 1979. At the time, Guido, now a bass player with the Jim Small Band, was not in any band and decided to organize an informal group of his friends to play for the picnic. "Paper Bag," an often-requested song from one of Guido's earlier bands, became the theme of the concerts. During the show, "Paper Bag' is used as tie-in music between songs.

Guido nicknames his giant makeshift ensemble Polecat and the Downwind Dance Band featuring Tony Rome and his Cheese Calzones. "We figure a thirty-piece band needs a big name," he says. About 600 people attended the show Tuesday, with most of the crowd singing and shouting every tiine Guido called for participation. Between songs, they sang the "Paper Bag" chorus at his urging: Paper bag, what a drag, Paper Bag, what a drag. The song tells of a misadventure in a paper bag with a girl named Geraldine. For those who adorned themselves with paper-bag clothing and hats, Guido held a contest, with first prize going to a young member of the crowd wearing a huge headdress shaped and decorated like a bottle of Budweiser. Another guest had a hat with a shark protruding from it. The
crowd cheered the band's tight playing for about five hours although they'd had only a two-hour rehearsal. Each time Guido called for a new song by holding up a paper bag grabbed from the audience, the music shifbd quickly into spirited performances of the Beatles' "Twist and Shout," the Allman Brothers' "Whipping Post, " Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman, " Santana's "Black Magic Woman" and Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," among others. Allen Santoriello of the Little Wilson Band- in a pink and white tuxedo for his musical duel as James Brown-said what he enjoyed most about the show was the camaraderie between the musicians. "I get more nervous for this gig than any gig all year," he said. The two James Browns traded vocal riffs from Brown's classics "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and "I Feel Good."

At the end of the night, most of the cast and crew joined the band on stage for the finale, with a 6-foot plastic Statue of Liberty and the band's version of "God Bless America." When the show ended with a final "Paper Bag," about half the crowd was still there, still dancing. At about 3:46 a.m., people started to straggle out, many due at work in a few hours. "I have to be up at eight," said Karen Sprague, an interior horticulturist from Huntington.

Paper bag, what a drag.

 

 Paper Bag

 The Record
June 20, 1990
by Judith Bernstain

 

 

 

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Paper Bag

 The Record
June 20, 1990
by Judith Bernstain

 

 

 

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Paper Bag

 The Record
June 20, 1990
by Judith Bernstain

 

 

 

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The Record, JUNE 20, 1990

The Ultimate Jam
~ Jamming at the Paper Bag

By Judith Bernstein
What is billed as the "World’s Longest Running 30- Piece Rock Band," a combo comprised mainly of Huntington musicians, will stage a mega-jam session this coming Tuesday at a South Shore rock club.
The 13th annual Paper Bag concert, the brainchild of East Northport musician Mike Guido, starts rocking the house at Sundance in Bay Shore at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26. Tickets to the event – much like the surgeon general’s message to smokers on cigarette packs – contain this warning: "We urge you to take the next day off."

Paper Bag was born on July 5, 1979, at an outdoor festival, the People’s Picnic, held in Whitehall, New York, said Mr. Guido. He is also a member of the Jim Small Band, which plays regularly at Garvin’s in Huntington.
 The concert grew because Huntington is home to a "nice musician’s community," Mr. Guido said. The 30 musicians set to be on st5age this year include his bandmates and members of Little Wilson, Blue Eyed Soul, Chaser, Ricky and the Roaches, Local Motion, Funk Filharmonic, Jim Pin, and Jasmine, all regulars in the Huntington village area. Mr. Guido said a total of 120 people – all friends of his – are involved with the concert, both on stage and behind the scenes.
The name comes from a song, "The Paper Bag Theme," which Mr. Guido said is performed each year. The refrain, he said, is "Paper Bag, what a drag," and he said the tune is the kind that "stays in your head."

Mike Guido
An audience at a Paper Bag concert "sings and dances and yells and screams along with the band – they’re required to," he said. "We draw about a thousand people through word of mouth.

"Everybody plays at once, for four hours without stopping. People in the audience make paper bag costumes for themselves. The audience is very involved – not passive." That’s not surprising, since the concert has never really been advertised or publicized, Mr. Guido said. Audience members hear about it through the grapevine and are either friends, family, or fans of local bands.

Over the years, Paper Bag has migrated from the North to Sough shores, playing at clubs in Bay Shore (The Silver Dollar Saloon and Sundance), Huntington (The Lion’s Cage, the site which now houses Images, and The Salty Dog) and Oyster Bat (Rumrunners) and is always held on the last Tuesday in June.

The centerfold of last year’s Paper Bag program lists all the participants, under headings that range from concert veterans "12 Years In The Bag" (Mr. Guido, Paul Shields, Scott Kistenberger and
Larry Perlman) down to "the Rookeroonies" – first timers.

One Rookeroonie at this year’s concert will be Tony Barca of the Tony Barca Blues Band, Local Motion and The Cyclone Rangers. The Cyclone Rangers, featuring Mindy Jostyn (who just finished touring with Billy Joel), have a gig at Garvin’s on Saturday, June 30.

Mr. Barca, who has attended previous Paper Bag concerts as an observer but, not a participant, said he approached Mr. Guido earlier this year as the concert date approached. "Y’know, what do you have to do to get involved?" he asked.

"All you have to do is ask," was Mr. Guido’s response, he said.

Paper Bag’s music should appeal to the thirtysomething crowd – Mr. Guido said that he’s 39 and the group plays what he likes – "’60’s material up to the present."

Mr. Barca said he had received Paper Bag rehearsal schedules which noted that the musicians would be playing the entire second side of the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

Judging from the rehearsal schedule, Mr. Barca said, the concert seems "pretty well organized – it’s Guido’s night to play God."

With the 10 electric guitars, six basses, seven drummers and hordes of musicians on keyboards, horns, harmonicas and vocals, Paper Bag should be the ultimate jam for Huntington area rock fans.

Sundance is at 217 East Main Street (Montauk Highway) in Bay Shore. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased in advance. Call Ticketmaster, 888-9000, or pick them up at Revolutions, 1893 Deer Park Avenue in Deer Park, 243-4790, or Sundance at 665-2121.

 

 

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 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
Feb 23, 1991
by Ed Lowe

 

 

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Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
Feb 23, 1991
by Ed Lowe

 

 

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NEWSDAY, February 23, 1991

The Band Was Just Too Good


By Ed Lowe

THE EMOTIONAL capacity of an artist probably compares favorably with that of a lunatic, and doubtless strikes members of both their families as exhilarating one moment, and exasperating the next.

I try not to claim to be an artist. Fearing the self-characterization too presumptuous, I line up for public categorization with the practitioners of other crafts. Whenever somebody accuses me of artistry, however, I am charmed, satisfied and honored beyond expression. So, I must suspect or need that identity, if secretly. I certainly am no scientist, nor any kind of businessman. I rarely look for a bottom line; I look instead for depth and breadth and often cannot describe or explain what I encountered in the search.

But I am blessed and cursed with the temperamental extremes that accompany whatever energies drive a man to seek fulfillment in endeavors more subjective than objective. I am impetuous, and I frequently ascribe gigantic, personal importance to serving impulsive needs that must seem absolutely frivolous when I try to communicate or share them. Still, I try to share them, especially those from which I draw pure, simple joy.

Two of the more ostensibly frivolous of my private passions are being at Gilgo Beach and listening to the Jim Small Band. I have been indulging the one for more than 35 years, the other for about 10. Mostly, when I tap into these life delicacies, I am alone, but I have tried to share my enjoyment for one or the other with my children, among others, and in the case of Colleen, to share both.

Three years ago, when our relationship was not yet as strained, distant, confusing and painful as it ultimately would become before it began to develop an adult form, I visited Colleen at SUNY-Plattsburgh. Hesitantly - I suppose because the change in state law regarding the drinking age had not yet been seamlessly matched by the change in custom and practice in all college towns - she asked if I would join her and some friends at a bar later that evening. She said she had discovered a band she wanted me to hear, the Perry Nunn Band, if I remember right. I said I would, but for some stupid reason I tried to hide how wonderful I felt that she had asked. Worse, I succeeded.

The place was typically crowded, but with great faces and broad smiles, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the reception I got from each of her girlfriends, as they shook my hand exuberantly and said, "You must be Colleen's dad! It's great to finally meet you!" Evidently, my daughter had revealed much more affection for me than to me, and the discovery gave me back some hope.

I told her that Perry Nunn was fabulous, and I meant it, but I also begged her to save me a Thursday night the next time she returned home. Every now and then, I confessed to her, on a Thursday night, when I am still awake and everyone else in the house is not - and especially when I feel real good or real bad - I walk a half mile to the Dakota Rose and listen to the Jim Small Band perform an hour's set. I said that the band's relaxed precision and easy excellence had never failed to amaze and then restore me. I had sought them out when my youngest son was born and when my father died. Knowing how deeply she appreciated a wide range of music, but particularly fun and funky jazz and rock, I promised that she would feel the same. I swore it, guaranteed it.

The plan backfired, for a while.

Toward the end of last summer, on a weekday afternoon, when the parking lot at Gilgo Beach was nearly empty, I spied a bearded face - vaguely familiar but out of context - and suddenly realized it belonged to Phil Reilly, a singer-guitarist with Jim Small. I told him the story: that I'd brought Colleen to see and hear the band, and that they were so good, and she so overwhelmed, she felt I had belittled her.

"Sure," she had said, "I bring you to see Perry Nunn, so you blow my brains out with this. Great. Thanks a lot."

Reilly laughed. On an impulse, I guess, he yanked an acoustic guitar out of his trunk and sat atop a picnic table. We fiddled with songs I hadn't played or sung since my girls were little. Reilly said he had not been to Gilgo before - wasn't even sure why he drove there that day - but he liked the place. I said I understood, probably better than anyone.

During the winter recess last month, on a Thursday evening, Colleen asked if I thought I would be up late enough to take a walk to the Dakota Rose. I beamed. I said I would nap if I thought I required it.

Later, on the way, we chatted and marveled at what an unseasonably warm and beautiful day it had been, though windy. Colleen said, "Yeah, the ocean was beautiful today, the way the wind blew back the tops of the waves." She had driven to Gilgo Beach at about 2:30. I laughed. I told her I had been there, too, from around noon until just after one o'clock.

When the Jim Small Band had finished their first set, Reilly walked over to say that he and his wife had driven to Gilgo Beach at around 1:30; where was I?

I still laugh aloud when I think of it.

 

 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
July 2, 1992
by Denise Flaim

 

 

 

 

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 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
July 2, 1992
by Denise Flaim

 

 

 

 

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NEWSDAY, THURSDAY, JULY 2, 1992

Jamming All Night Long

And You Thought Paper Bags Were for Groceries
By Denise Flaim

EVERYONE GET OUT!"
On Tuesday, a frenzied 40-year-old Mike Guido was sitting in a borrowed Winnebago in front of Spit in Levittown, slugging Gatorade,handing out hot-pink T-shirts, and organizing with military precision what is perhaps Long Island's oldest, largest and looniest jam session-Paper Bag.

On the last Tuesday in June for the past 15 years, Guido-bassist for the Jim Small Band and the Paper Bag's founder-guru, and a growing coterie of local musicians have produced what is billed as "The World's Longest-Running 30-Piece Rock Band." In reality, the all-night Paper Bag now involves more than double that number of players, plus a hundred or so extras-including light, sound and stage-construction crews, and barcreeps, the moniker for the musicians' private bartenders.

Inside Spit, the Paper Bag musicians and helpers weren't hard to spot: They were all dressed in hot pink Paper Bag '92 T-shirts with their nicknames ([Air Tuna], [Wok-a-Chuk]) and numbers (including variations like "Roast Beef $14.80/lb") emblazoned on the backs.

"I overheard someone here say, 'If this was a religious holiday it would be Christmas,' "said 35-year old vocalist Jim Small of the Jim Small Band, who's an ironic 6-foot-4. "That's how much we look forward to it." Small, who once studied for the priesthood, says he now reaches people with music. "Same thing-just a different medium."

And if music is religion, then the Paper Bag is a fundamentalist revival. The five-hour, non-stop music-fest, which grew out of an informal 1979 jam session in Whitehall, N.Y., is named after its shoop-shooping, do-wah-doing theme song, which is played throughout the night. "Paper Bag/What a drag," insists the lone Iyric of this persistently hummable nonsense song, but Paper Bag devotees beg to differ. More than 1,000 music lovers turned out for the event Tuesday, with no advertising except word of mouth.

Though the Paper Bag's high energy, camaraderie and sheer musicality are better experienced than described, try to imagine a commingling of 10 or so tight Long Island bands like Blue Eyed Soul, Little Wilson and Full House, cemented with five months of planning, huge doses of whimsy, beer consumption that exceeded 1,000 cases last year -and no rehearsals.

"All these musicians drop everything to do this," explained Steve Traub, 34 of Dix Hills, a former bartender at the now-defunct Rumrunner's in Oyster Bay, home to the Bag in the mid-'80s.

Every Paper Bag is planned five months in advance, with section leaders assigned to each instrument group and songs selected for optimal audience reaction. Last year, the Paper Bag played the entire side two of "Abbey Road" note for note. This year, as part of a foot-stomping roster of good old rock-and-roll tunes -from Springsteen's "Rosalita" to Meat Loaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light,"- the Paper Bag did a selection of songs that contain the word "midnight."

Why midnight? Stop being so analytical. "The Paper Bag doesn't have any point-and that's the whole point," said drummer Steve Finkelstein of Funk Filharmonik. "Being the environmental kind of guy that I am, in a way I'd like to see Guido make this an anti-plastic, pro-recyclable brown-paper bag kind of thing. But that isn't what it's about. "The appeal is that the band is having more fun than the audience, and the audience gets off on that."

Later in the evening, Finkelstein illustrated his point by showing up for a rousing rendition of Todd Rundgren's "Bang the Drum All Day" wearing high tops, a drum set around his midsection-and not much else.

Throughout the years, audience members have taken the costume cue with elaborate paper-bag costumes that have included, among other things, a three-piece suit made completely with No. 8 Kraft brown paper bags-right down to the watch chain.

Mark Kobel, a space-simulation test engineer from Maryland and four-time Paper Bagger, wore a paper-bag replica of the Hubble Telescope. Nearby, Christina Paxton, 27, of Northport was flaunting her paper-bag bangles. But this year's Paper Bag costume contest winners and runners-up were group efforts: a paper-bag Chinese dragon and a paper-bag toga party, respectively.

Back in the Winnebago before showtime, an anonymous Paper Bagger who was thinking ahead to the 25th Paper Bag suggested the Coliseum as a possible site. Guido demurred, though he doesn't see the Paper Bag-which is so long running it comprises a majority of baby-boomer musicians, many of them middle-aged-crumpling up and fading away. "We'll keep doing this until the band or the audience stops showing up," said the Paper Bag commando, whose bearded Charles Manson-like caricature has become the event's logo. "And I don't think that's going to happen any time soon."

"Now," he said, reaching for his emcee attire- a Hawiian shirt and wedding-gig tuxedo. "Everybody get out."

Denise Flaim is a free-lance writer who until Tuesday thought a Paper Bag was something from Waldbaum's.

 

 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
June 20, 1993
by Denise Flaim

 

 

 

 

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NEWSDAY, June 20, 1993

An Event That Has Music All in the Bag

By Denise Flaim

There's one musical event we truly look forward to all year, and it takes place this Tuesday at Paradise (50 Broadway, Island Park, 889-2404)

Infused with a sense of loopy musicianship and unavoidably addicative once you attend, the annual Paper Bag draws together dozens if the area's tightest musicians, who churn out a painstakingly choreographed, gleefully sweaty show.

Named the Paper Bag after its theme song - actually, the pithy and nonsensical "Paper Bag / What a drag," is more like a theme lyric - this all-night jam traditionally draws more than 1,000 audience members, though you'll never see it advertised anywhere.

To get into the spirit of things, hike over to a supermarket and bag the goods for a costume - pun intended. Last year, we spotted everything from paper-bag fedoras to entire business suits made out of the brown stuff.

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 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
June 13, 1997
by Ed Lowe

 

 

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 Paper Bag

NEWSDAY
June 13, 1997
by Ed Lowe

 

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NEWSDAY, June 13, 1997

East Northport Man Bags an Award

By Ed Lowe

I AM HEREBY establishing an award for which I have determined and enumerated no set criteria, nor written any definition, nor decided on any frequency (whether I will wind up awarding it annually, monthly, weekly, or once). I intended to work out these details before I picked a suitable candidate, but the opposite occurred.

The inaugural "Lowe LIFE Award," goes to Michael Guido, of East Northport, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary, or "baggiversary," of the unlikely, unheralded, unadvertised, unprofitable, unbelievable and fundamentally indescribable annual event he founded, developed, staged, sustains, orchestrates, and over which he continues to dictatorially and triumphantly preside, The Paper Bag.

Guido, one of the brood of offspring of the late (and legendary) Danny Guido, the only commissioner to preside over both highest-paid police departments in the nation (Nassau County's and Suffolk's), spent years as the endearingly aimless sheep of the family, working (?) as a full-time rock and roll musician, sporting a great black beard, and keeping a wardrobe consisting exclusively of T-shirts and jeans. When advancing age found him wanting to teach music to middle-school children, Guido, who at the time was playing bass, clarinet, flute and saxophone with the Jim Small Band, enrolled at Nassau Community College and then C.W. Post University. He aced every course he took and earned a master's in music education and a job with the Garden City schools. If I had encountered a music teacher like Mike Guido at any time in my life, I would be a professional musician today. Such is the danger he presents to society.

The Paper Bag began as one of a series of serendipitous goofs. An unabashed admirer of Long Island's community of musicians, Guido gathered a brigade of colleagues from different working bands at a free concert staged at a musician's picnic. He re-staged it annually, so that new ideas and contributions eventually became time honored traditions. Named for a hypnotically dull tune reminiscent of a Russian funeral dirge played at quick-march speed, a song whose mindless , rhythmical refrain, "Paper bag, what a drag," reflects the abandonment of sense that makes the event so irresistible. "The Bag" amounts to this: 65 accomplished Long Island rock and rollers take the stage and expertly perform virtually unrehearsed music nonstop for six hours in front of roughly 1,200 wildly enthusiastic recidivist fans, who pay $10 each to cover the cost of renting the hall (Mulcahy's in Wantagh for this and the past two years), providing beer and hamburgers for the musicians, videotaping the event and maintaining high-quality sound at killer decibel level.

Every year on the last Tuesday in June, a newsletter reminds ticket-holders to take Wednesday off, because they are going to be too tired, too deafened, too foul-smelling and too mind-blown to be of any use to themselves or their employers. The event usually opens with the tune, "I Don't Wanna Work (I just want to bang on my drum all day,)" although last year , Guido directed the amassed guitars, drums, keyboards, basses and horns in a cataclysmic rendition of the opening of Beethoven's Fifth, which then segued into "I Don't Wanna Work," and then into "Paper Bag." At one point, the crowd judges a contest of costumes made of brown paper bags. At another, Guido gives coveted "Bag" awards to veteran participants.

Aided by a fiercely loyal army of volunteers (and spouses) to whom Guido issues 211 outlandishly bright, numbered T-shirts bearing his caricature plus an appropriately derisive nickname, Guido directs both band and audience, who follow his every order to play or cheer louder or softer, to stop, start, repeat, laugh, boo or applaud. "I am a benevolent despot," he says. "It's turned out to be the best training I ever got for being a middle school music teacher."

Old enough, and weird enough , to be called an institution, The Bag represents the highest intended traditions of the "Lowe LIFE Award," whatever they turn out to be.

Ed Lowe is not a columnist. He is himself.

 Paper Bag

 Good Times Magazine

August 12, 2002

by Jessica Fiorini

 

 

 

 

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Good Times Magazine, July 30, 2002

Paper Bag - Mulcahy's, Wantagh


By Jessica Fiorini

Every year on the last Thursday in June, an amazing collection of 60 musicians invade Mulcahy's in Wantagh, escorting the crowd through a breathless six hours of constant music. At the beginning of the set Mike Guido, the creator and conductor of Paper Bag's organized chaos, stepped to the helm and explained the expectations of the evening: "We will play music as long as the audience shows up and for as long as we can. And we strongly urge you to take the next day off." As if wanting to prove their advice wise, the orchestra wailed into a dangerously explosive version of Aretha Franklin's "Think." It was so damn good, not one per- son in Mulcahy's was actually drinking their drink. After "Think" wound down, the "Paper Bag Theme," the only original song, wafted in to fill the gap giving musicians time to leave and enter the stage area. This break is necessary so that the 14 vocalists, 13 electric guitarists, 8 horn players, 6 harmonica players, 5 electric bassists, 13 percussionists, and the "Bar Creep" are able to move around according to a song's needs. The "Paper Bag Theme" is so unbelievably catchy, though, that no one minds the break from songs and everyone participates in chanting it's onjy words, "Paper Bag. What A Drag." The most impressive moment in the set, which contained over 55 songs, was the performance of side B of the Beatles Abbey Road, including the hidden track "Her Majesty." The Bag players even pulled off an amazing version of Because," something the Beatles shied away from historically. Generally speaking, The Paper Bag has a theme in mind when choosing the setlist. For example, in 1999 the theme was "The Love Bag: T.V. Themes" and last year it was "The Bag Odyssey: Blind Faith." This year was different, though. Paper Bag celebrated 25 years "in the bag" and chose a setlist com- piled of favorite songs from past Bags. Since 1979, Mike Guido has led the musical spectacle that is Paper Bag. Every year the crowds and the band evolve to become thicker and more diverse then any other show in town. This is something truly tremendous and goes to show that Guido's "got it in the bag. - Jessica Fiorini

 

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 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
Aug 25, 2002
by Ed Lowe

 

 

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NEWSDAY, August 25, 2002

A Son's Music, A Mother's Interlude


By Ed Lowe

In the mid- to late 1980s, I would walk from my house to a long-gone place called the Dakota Rose to listen to live music, mainly the Jim Small Band. Their second or third set branched out from rock and roll into big band tunes, opening with Glenn Miller's classy "In the Mood" and closing with Paul Simon's brassy "Late in the Evening."

Other musicians invariably would arrive in time to jam specifically for that set: Dennis Wilson, a veteran trombonist with the Count Basie Orchestra; Val Angrosini, a trumpet player, and Lenny La Pinta, a saxophone player and a music teacher in West Islip. Arriving always with a wide smile and an enthusiastic handshake, Lenny practically badgered band member Mike Guido into going back to school for his bachelor's and then his master's in music education, insisting that Guido would make a great teacher and would love the work. Guido now is a great music teacher who loves the work.

Until two years ago, I did not know that Lenny was out late playing music in those years to save his mind. At a chance 1999 dinnertime encounter in the Grille Room in Hauppauge, he told me - and with palpable reservations - that in 1984, his mother had been convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his father and sentenced to 25 years to life. He said he was producing a videotape to accompany her plea for clemency. He was not sure why he was telling me, except as a friend. He was not sure if he wanted any publicity. I told him I wouldn't bother him about it. It took me almost three years to wrap my brain around the story, anyway.

In the riveting, 2-year-old videotape, Lenny and his brother, Anthony, of West Islip, tell about growing up amid routine domestic violence, in a household where there would be "hell to pay" if they revealed to anyone what transpired in the house. Their mother, Marie, reminisces about her childhood in Sicily, her arranged marriage, her acceptance of spousal abuse as normal, the night of the killing, her regrets, her sorrow and her dreams. Both sons recall sitting frozen with dread at the table while their mother lay on the floor bleeding from a head wound caused by a serving plate their father, Michael, had hurled across the room at her, because he was dissatisfied with dinner. They remember him standing over her, threatening to cut out her tongue. Anthony, a lawyer, talks about watching his father "go crazy" because Marie's brother, Leonardo Crociata, the only member of her family of origin living in this country, violated a new rule, forbidding him to ever visit his sister.

Marie La Pinta is 66 and has been a resident of the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for 17 years. She will be eligible for parole when she is 73. She was born in Castellamare del Golfo, Palermo, Italy, the third of seven children and the only daughter of Antonio and Marie Crociata. According to Marie, both in the videotape and in the papers Lenny submitted to the New York State Executive Clemency Board, her father was fiercely protective of his only daughter, and fiercely brutal to his wife. The family physician once reported him to the police for wounds he inflicted on his wife when she was pregnant with Marie. When Marie was 8, she watched her father beat her mother senseless with a horse bridle.

 

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 Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
Sept 12, 2003
by Ed Lowe

 

 

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Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
Sept 12, 2003
by Ed Lowe

 

 

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Paper Bag

 NEWSDAY
Sept 12, 2003
by Ed Lowe

 

 

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NEWSDAY, September 12, 2003

Can't Sour His Sweet Sound

By Ed Lowe

Michael Guido sang, "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round," 72 times on Monday.

Guido, 52, of East Northport, spent the past 10 years of his professional life as an enormously popular middle school music and band teacher in the Garden City School District. He also served in the teachers union there, as middle school building representative; still does, in fact.

However, in June, on the day after the last board meeting of the academic year, with four school days remaining, Tim Rehm summoned Guido into his office. Rehm is the assistant to the superintendent, Stephen R. Leitman. According to Guido, Rehm said, "This will come as something of a shock to you, but, you're being transferred to the K-1 schools."

Suitably shocked, Guido asked, "Why?" He said Rehm answered, "It's in the best interest of the students." Thereafter, nobody in the Garden City School District's Board of Education or administration would say any more about the transfer. Rehm refers all questions to Leitman, who declines to comment.

Clearly, Guido had ticked somebody off.

Guido and I pondered the rationale all summer: "best interest of the students." Save for their parents, nobody in the administration or staff had yet seen this year's kindergarten students. How would anybody know their best interests? Guido's undergraduate, graduate, in-service training, and his 10 years of experience was entirely in secondary school music, not elementary school music. Surely, no administration would consider an inexperienced, untrained kindergarten music teacher in the best interests of kindergarten students. Maybe the administration felt transferring Guido to kindergarten was in the best interests of the middle school students.

Nah. Not according to the middle school students, or their parents, or Guido's colleagues, many of whom flocked to an early summer board meeting to register their support for Guido. To accommodate the crowd, the board relocated the meeting from the administration building to the middle school cafeteria, where one teacher after another, one parent after another, one student after another, rose to say what a spectacular and inspirational music and band teacher was Mr. Guido. A Little League coach even complained that his team had been losing good ballplayers to the middle school band because of Mr. Guido. Peggy Griffin, retired after 43 years teaching in the district, delivered, to thunderous applause, an impassioned speech in Guido's behalf and submitted a petition containing hundreds of signatures of faculty, students and parents supporting him.

The superintendent said nothing. Board members said nothing. Board president Kenneth J. Monaghan said, "The board and the administration have received a number of letters and phone calls asking us to open up a dialogue on this. The board is more than willing to listen, but what you must understand is that we cannot comment. Don't take our lack of response as being close-minded, but there will not be a dialogue."

Later, when publicly cornered by a clever father who asked what those present might expect the board to do, now, following such an outpouring of support for a teacher and such universal condemnation for a transfer, Monaghan fell sheepish. Not only would there be no comment, he said, there would be no vote in executive session, nor any discussion, nor any action by the board. The people could expect nothing for their efforts. There would be nothing. Subsequent letters that appeared in the pages of a local newspaper from parents and students, addressed both to the editor of the Garden City News and to Leitman, went unanswered. Wednesday, Leitman said to me: "It's a personnel issue. You know we're not going to discuss a personnel issue."

So, Guido started his K-1 music teaching career last week. The job requires visiting four buildings and 31 different classrooms, seeing groups of students once every six days, for a total of about 620 kindergarten and first-grade pupils.

I want my mommy!

First day of school, Guido had five consecutive kindergarten classes. He wore a Hawaiian shirt, jeans and sneakers.

It's okaaay, son, that you went to the bathroom before ... you actually went to the bathroom. It's okaaaaay. But, now you have to see the nurse.

He had asked the administration for assistance, some kind of preparation, or in-service training, or a pamphlet - anything. He got zero. His daughters, Sara, 9, and Emma, 12, rented him a copy of the movie "Kindergarten Cop" the day before school opened.

The sheep on the bus go "Baa baa baa."

"The kids love it when I act confused and mix up 'Wheels on the Bus' with 'Old MacDonald's Farm,'" Guido said.

A full-time, professional musician until he was almost 40, Guido plays flute, piccolo, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French horn, baritone horn, trombone, tuba, drums, bass and bass guitar. "In my new job," he said, "I have to play piano and guitar. I don't. I'm learning. I'm up to two chords on guitar, C and D. I played and sang, 'Happy Birthday' for a little girl, and when it was done, I said, 'That wasn't very good, was it?' She said, 'No.'

"It's hysterical. I'm being set up to fail, and I won't. They think I'm going to quit or get an attitude, but I'm working my face off. I'm having fun, too. The kids are having fun. They're unbelievably cute, too, although 'cute' doesn't really balance the equation. By education, training, experience and temperament, I'm a middle school music teacher. I was born to be a middle school music teacher. If I'd submitted my resume for this job, I wouldn't have gotten as far as an interview."

I have known Guido for 20 years. By now, you can ask any Garden City kindergartner what he or she likes best about school, so far. The answer will be, "Music!"

 


 

 Paper Bag

 Good Times
July 27, 2004
by Dan Brown

 

 

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Paper Bag

 Good Times
July 27, 2004
by Dan Brown

 

 

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Paper Bag

Good Times
July 27, 2004
by Dan Brown

 

Good Times, July 27, 2004

Long Island Legends of Rock Series presents Stanton Anderson

By Dan Brown

They're back! Perhaps Long Island's greatest live act ever, The Stanton Anderson Band, a band whose powerful live show and popularity helped create the buzz for the Long Island scene that went a long way in opening the door for acts who followed like Twisted Sister, The Good Rats and Zebra, have returned to reclaim their place as Long Island music royalty.

In the 1970s all roads to Long Island rock went through Stanton Anderson. Highlights of the band's run included a legendary live concert broadcast on WLIR from what was then the Mecca of the Island scene, Rum Bottom's, and a gig on the Nassau Coliseum stage on a bill with The Marshall Tucker Band. Stanton Anderson called it quits in 1982, and the band ceased to be until almost twenty years later, when the band reunited and set out to recreate the magic that put Stanton on the rock n' roll map.

In the late 60s Vocalist and harmonica player Mark Fowler, a New Orleans transplant, made the trip up north and would up hooking up with guitarist Rick Silecchio and bassist Larry Luby who were working on sounds in a basement practice place in Valley Stream. By 1972, the original line-up of the Stanton Anderson Band was in place, and the band began booking themselves into local bars and clubs.

The Stanton Anderson live show mixed blues, rock and soul influenced originals, with carefully chosen R&B classics, as well as covers from bands that were part of a new genre being labeled as "Southern Rock." A relentless touring schedule kept the band before the public, and only a few years later, the reward for their hard work came in the form of receiving slots on bills with major national acts including The Allman Brothers and Southside Johnny, as well as the opportunity to play the Nassau Coliseum as the opening act for The Marshall Tucker Band.

What has always been true about the band is how they had a way of taking cover songs and making them their own. Fowler and Silecchio jokingly refer to this as "Stantonizing," while reminiscing about how "Knocking On Heaven's Door" became part of their set, a remake that could easily be described as the definitive cover of the Dylan classic. "I was driving out to a soundcheck for a show in the Hamptons," the guitarist remembers, "and I heard it on the radio. When I got to the sound check I said let's try this. By the second night playing it, it became one of our killer songs. There was just a magic to it." "With the band," Fowler picks up, "It's always about a guitar sound, or a keyboard sound. It's always some kind of hook, and there's something there. There's a seed, and we start working it." However, an affiliation with the Southern Rock genre led to the Stanton Anderson Band being tagged as falling into this same category. And much like some other acts that wore the Southern Rock label, the members of Stanton Anderson felt that the genre name did not fairly describe the sound of the band. "We were lumped into that in a weird way because we opened up for those bands," Fowler explains. "But Stanton was not Southern Rock."

As the 80's began, Stanton Anderson were still at the top of their game. However, with the sound of new wave clawing its way into the mainstream, and he foundation for what would become the air-band era being laid, the Southern rock phenom had run its course. Playing to smaller crowds meant lighter paydays. Then when Silecchio found himself selling off one of his guitars just to make the band's payroll, both he and Fowler saw that it was time to close the book on Stanton Anderson. Members went their separate ways, each landing in other bands and meeting with varying degrees of success over the next 17 years.

For the fans, Stanton Anderson was a band gone, but certainly not forgotten. Over the years, people would come up and ask us about Stanton," says Fowler. I'd be in a deli or something, and someone would come over and say how they used to come to our shows. They would be like- what happened to you guys?" There was some minor rumbling between the members about putting the band back together, but it would be almost twenty years before he reunion would finally take place. Yet, once the rebirth of Stanton Anderson was announced, things seemed to pick up right here they left off when the band ruled the Island. "People came out of the woodwork," Silecchio laughs. They were dying to see the band. And we weren't even thinking about that, that there would be that kind of reaction. And yeah, the first few shows were a bit rough, but now Stanton Anderson isn't just a reunion band. This is a viable band."

Today the Stanton line-up consists of Fowler, Silecchio and original bassist Larry Luby, with Bobby Simons at the keys, drummer Linda Mackley, Tom Pecororo on guitar, and Tom and Lola Foy on backing vocals. The band is also joined by the Skid Row Horns, led by Pete Tursi on trumpet with lan Platt on sax and Mike Guido on sax and clarinet.

Silecchio allows himself the opportunity to take a sentimental tone while speaking about how it feels to be on stage with Fowler and rest of Stanton Anderson. "In the seventeen years Stanton wasn't playing, I'd been in other bands, and it was good. But there's something about being up their standing behind Mark. Maybe we didn't get all the attention other Island bands like the Twisted Sisters and Zebras did, but when Stanton Anderson is onstage and I look out and see the crowd, and even the club owner and bartenders are just being blown away by what we're doing, that's what really matters to me."

Stanton Anderson fans are going to get a rare opportunity to catch the band live in an intimate setting on July 31, when the band takes the stage at The Nutty Irishman in Bay Shore.

 

yes, this is Ed Lowe

 

 Paper Bag

LONG ISLAND PRESS
June 30, 2005
by Ed Lowe

 

 

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Paper Bag

 LONG ISLAND PRESS
June 30, 2005
by Ed Lowe

 

 

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Paper Bag

 LONG ISLAND PRESS
June 30, 2005
by Ed Lowe

Long Island Press,   June 30, 2005

Her First Night in a Club

By Ed Lowe

One of the cardinal rules, or warnings, pursuant to attending the annual, riotous, one-of-a-kind, all-Long Island, rock 'n' roll musical insurrection known (far and wide, and yet, not so) as "The Paper Bag" is the admonition on every ticket, brochure and song list: "We strongly urge you to take the next day off."

I would have, and probably should have, but here, on the afternoon following the 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. event at Mulcahy's in Wantagh, I feel incapable of any useful efforts, save possibly to share such joy as The Bag's madness inspires.

It was the 28th annual Paper Bag, where the world's only band with 60-plus rock 'n' rollers plays virtually unrehearsed music for six hours at a time, and my 15th visit as a guest of Michael Guido, its sire, its symbol, its heart and soul, and its despotic leader (when he is not standing otherwise unnoticed in the midst of a local band for whom he might be playing either flute, piccolo, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French horn, baritone horn, trombone, tuba, drums, bass or bass guitar, or serving as the sound engineer).

I was standing in the foyer Tuesday night, chatting with Guido siblings and members of the security staff, when a "Whoop" erupted at the doorway. I looked to my left, and there appeared the broadly smiling face of saxophonist/clarinetist/music teacher Lenny La Pinta, of Sayville. He was holding hands with both the source of and the template for his wider-than-ever smile, his mother, Marie La Pinta.

The crowd went berserk wherever they appeared. All night.

Back story: In 1999, Lenny La Pinta revealed to me that during the mid- to late 1980s, when I saw and heard him jamming weekly with the Jim Small Band at the long-gone Dakota Rose in Amityville, he was using music to stave off what anger, disappointment and sadness so constantly had pursued him since his mother was sentenced in 1984 to 25 years to life for her participation in the murder of his father, Michael.

I was rocked. Lenny did not want me to write the story--not yet. Following family tradition, Lenny had not talked about it for several years, until he finally confided in two members of the Jim Small Band. He and his brother, Anthony, who was attending law school with the intent of one day rescuing their mother, still disagreed on taking "family business" public, but Lenny was beginning to think that public support might be the only way.

He told me about years of beatings that took place in front of the boys, and fits of rage that even extended out into the front yard. He said his father made it clear that there would be "hell to pay" if he or Anthony were to talk about it to anyone.

The arranged marriage collapsing fast by 1984, and Michael La Pinta already planning to move to Florida, Lenny invited Marie's brother, Leonardo Crociata, the only member of her family in this country, to West Islip to "settle a few debts." Michael La Pinta had forbidden Marie to talk to or see any member of her family. Crociata arrived. A fight ensued. Michael at some point brandished his gun, the weapon that killed him during the struggle. Marie and her brother subsequently were seen trying to dispose of the body at a local landfill. Both were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life.

In 2002, Lenny and Anthony went public with the story, through me, a new web page (mercyformom.org), and a deftly produced videotape. They soon had garnered support from thousands, worldwide, who pleaded repeatedly, officially and unsuccessfully, for executive clemency from Gov. George Pataki.

Finally, last month, Anthony's efforts in court drew a victory for Marie from Justice Robert W. Doyle, who overturned the 1984 conviction on the grounds that Marie and her brother had been represented by the same lawyer. Her battered spouse status had never made it into the courtroom. She pleaded to a lesser charge and was freed.

In the meantime, during those years, Lenny had badgered his friend Guido, encouraging and finally persuading him to go for his bachelor's and then master's degree in music education and become a middle school music teacher. With all that was on his mind at the time, Lenny convinced Guido that he would be one of the best music teachers and would love the work. Guido, an 11-year veteran middle school music teacher now working in the Island Trees School District, is one of the best music teachers and loves the work.

In his Paper Bag brochure, Guido wrote, "...I have never been happier about an event in my life as I was the day I saw Marie's kind, smiling face on the cover of the newspaper with the headline indicating that my friend's mom was coming home."

I gave Marie La Pinta two extra earplugs I had in my pocket, saying, "You're going to remember me for days for this; trust me."

Lenny took me aside and said, "My mother is in another dimension. This is her first night, ever, in a club, and there's 70 musicians on stage and 1,400 people in the audience. You should see her at the house. She stays at my house during the week and at the West Islip house with my brother on weekends. She has to walk slowly down the stairs, because she hasn't walked on carpeting for 22 years, and she's afraid she's going to trip on it.

"I took her out to Tanger Mall," Lenny said. "I spent about $1,000 on clothes. It's the most clothes she's ever had in her life."

At the band member meeting in a restricted area outside the club, just before the 10 p.m. opening of the show, a clownishly tuxedoed Guido mounted a makeshift stage and introduced a "rookie" Bag member. The crowd roared.

On the back of her official Bag Band Member T-shirt was her official Bag Member nickname: "Free at Last."


 Paper Bag

Village Connection
June, 2007
by Cub Reporter
Mike Guido

 

 

 

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 Paper Bag

Village Connection
June, 2007
by Cub Reporter
Mike Guido

 

 

 

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The Village Connection •
Huntington's lifestyle & entertainment magazine
June 2007

By Mike Guido - cub reporter

 

 Paper Bag

CANVAS
June, 2008
by Joanne Schenker

 

 

 

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 Paper Bag

Canvas
June, 2008
by Joanne Schenker

 

 

 

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JUNE, 2008

LI Sound: Mike Guido and The Paper Bag

By Joanne Schenker

The words “paper bag” don’t invoke images of music to most. That is, unless you’re a loyal fan of the all-night music marathon that takes place annually in June at Mulcahy’s, in Wantagh. Die-hard “baggers” have been coming to see this little bit of Woodstock since l978, when it was just 17 musicians playing for 35 minutes. Within a few years, the cat was out of The Bag and as the audience grew, so did the band members. Now, The Paper Bag boasts at least 60 musicians on stage performing nonstop unrehearsed music to roughly 1,400 zealous fans. But where did it all begin?

Mike Guido, the founder of The Paper Bag (www.paperbagmusic.com) tells all: “In 1973, I was in The Phil Gagliano Band, and the drummer, Don Civitella, wrote a song called Paper Bag. As I moved from band to band, people would request it at gigs. Finally, one night at Chelsea’s (in Huntington) we did the song and it became a cult thing.” After being the sound engineer at a music festival in upstate New York in the late 1970s, Mike decided on the last day of the festival that he would get all the musicians from the bands onstage at once, and that would be “his band.” “We performed to hundreds of people wearing bags on their heads. We had so much fun, we continued to perform every year thereafter,” Mike adds. In three decades, they’ve covered 1,074 songs from every classic rock band imaginable.

During the 1990s, the concept of having a Bag theme came into play. (i.e. The Love Bag, The Doggy Bag, The Body Bag, etc.) This year they’ll perform The Sleeping Bag; but no shut-eye is expected. “Much of the audience has been attending for more than 20 years,” Mike explains of the concert, which rocks nonstop from 10 p.m. ’til 4 a.m. (in fact, the website and concert program recommend “we strongly urge you to take the next day off”). The most important element is the camaraderie among the musicians and the audience. According to Mike, “We’ve been friends for over 30 years and we continue to celebrate life by doing what we do best—enjoying rock music.”

The Paper Bag #31 will be held 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Thursday, June 26, at Mulcahy’s in Wantagh. For details, visit www.paperbagmusic.com or www.muls.com

 

 Paper Bag

canvas
Dropcloth

June 11, 2008
by Joanne Schenker

 

 

 

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 Paper Bag

canvas
Dropcloth

June 11, 2008
by Joanne Schenker

 

 

 

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canvas Dropcloth
JUNE 11, 2008

Who's in the Bag?

By Joanne Schenker

This month LI SOUND featured an article on The Paper Bag, the famous nocturnal musicfest that goes on every June at Mulcahy’s for the last 30 years. Basically, 60 musicians perform unrehearsed music (classics from the ‘70’s and onwards) for six solid hours to 1,400 die-hard fans. After three decades, the concert sells itself – there is no advertising budget…only around 300 people in the band and crew and their friends, plus friends of theirs “and so on and so on”…(I’ll date myself right now by asking if this reminds you of the Faberge commercial from the ‘70’s?) Much of the audience has been attending for 10 years, many over 20. They add as much to the concert in zealous participation, as the performers themselves. Profits are not part of this gig…the payback is purely in the form of wild enjoyment. As long as they can cover the cost of renting the hall, providing beer and hamburgers for the musicians and crew and videotaping the event, they’re all happy campers.

Kudos to Mike Guido, the creator of this little bit of Woodstock. With over 30 years experience as a professional musician, he has performed in rock bands, swing bands, jazz, reggae, even basement bands…you name it, he’s done it. For the past 26 years, he has played bass guitar, woodwinds and sings with The Jim Small Band. He also plays saxophone with the Stanton Anderson Band and has been the bassist with the Town of Babylon All Star Jazz Band for 14 years. He has taught music for over 30 years, 15 of them in Long Island’s public schools. He is currently teaching Concert Band, Jazz Band and Music Workshop classes at Island Trees Memorial Middle School in Levittown.

So, music is definitely his bag.

He’s got a great sense of humor, as well. Last year’s theme for the concert was The Dirt Bag…one can only imagine …mudsliding as in the days of Woodstock, perhaps? This year The Sleeping Bag rules. Although from 10 pm to 4 am on June 26th, Mulcahy’s will not see any shut eyes. Red eyes, yes. Sore throats, yes. But no sleepers.

 


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