09/14/12 12:00pm
09/14/2012 12:00 PM
Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, Randy Altschuler, Tim Bishop, Congress

xBARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall on Peconic Avenue in Riverhead is modeled after the Ford Theater in Washington D.C.

Times/Review Newsgroup is teaming up with The Press News Group of Southampton to co-sponsor a pair of 90-minute debates between Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler of St. James, the two news organizations announced this week.

The first debate will be hosted by Times/Review at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27, at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead. Suffolk Times editor Tim Kelly will moderate that debate, which will be broadcast live on riverheadnewsreview.com.

The first 45 minutes of the debate will focus specifically on health care reform, Mr. Kelly said, and then be opened to general questions.
The second debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 15, at Bridgehampton School. The first 45 minutes of that debate will focus on jobs and the economy.

The Bridgehampton debate will be moderated by Joe Shaw, executive editor for The Press News Group, publishers of the Southampton Press, Southampton Press Western Edition and Easthampton Press newspapers, as well as 27east.com.

“We’re very excited to be working together to give the public more than sound bites to make a decision in this important race,” Mr. Shaw said of the partnership with Times/Review. “Our goal is to allow the candidates to more fully explore the complicated issues and give voters an opportunity to cast an informed vote.”

Both debates will be free and open to the public.

Vail-Leavitt will seat up to 250 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Audience members will have an opportunity to submit questions for the candidates at both debates.

“With so much at stake, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of this race,” Mr. Kelly said. “We’re proud to be teaming up with our South Fork counterparts, The Press News Group, to bring the candidates and the issues to light.”


09/07/12 10:00am
09/07/2012 10:00 AM
Downtown Riverhead, Blues & Music Festival, Vail-Leavitt

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Robert Ross of NYC prepares to take the stage Saturday at the 2012 Riverhead Blues & Music Festival in June.

Organizers of the Riverhead Blues & Music Festival are drawing up plans to hold next year’s installment of the popular event in a new location in Riverhead.

The two-day festival will still be held downtown, but because of expected parking problems along the customary riverfront location south of East Main Street, officials with the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall — which sponsors the event — are eying the north side of the road.

The treasurer of the Vail-Leavitt nonprofit group, Vince Tria, told the News-Review Thursday that the group’s board of directors has approved moving the group’s chief fundraiser the new site.

The festival is expected to be held June 29 and June 30, Mr. Tria said.

The plans call to put the main stage behind the former Woolworth building, with it facing northwest out into the parking lot that extends north along East Avenue, with temporary fencing running along East Avenue, Mr. Tria said.

“And right to the west we’ll have as many as 80 parking spots,” he said. “I counted them. Some people will be able to park right behind Barth’s Pharmacy and Haiku and the new Mexican restaurant there, Blue Agave.

“The town just needs us to file some design plans” with a special events permit application, he said.

Vail-Leavitt officials, with Mr. Tria at the helm, have in the past run into political troubles with the town and even infighting among business owners south of Main Street while trying to organize the event.

The 2011 installment was cancelled after the Chamber of Commerce tried to take control of the festival, then later backed off, in 2010.

This year’s festival had low attendance, which organizers blamed on the hiatus, as well as competing East End events and Father’s Day.


Read more in Thursday’s edition of the Riverhead News-Review newspaper.


Woolworth, downtown Riverhead, Blues Festival

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Under current plans, the Blues Festival main stage will sit catty corner behind the former Woolworth building (above).

07/02/12 7:40am
07/02/2012 7:40 AM

The Long Island Gay Men’s Chorus made its North Fork debut Saturday at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead.

The show “Hooray for Hollywood” featured music from 18 movies, including Working Girl, A Walk to Remember, and The Muppet movie.

Though everybody in the chorus is gay, aside from the pianist, executive director Walk Fishon said the organization doesn’t discriminate against straight singers joining in on their fun. 

“We put it this way — if you can hit the notes and sing on key, who are we to judge,” he said.

The Long Island Gay Men’s Chorus, a charitable organization, was established in 2008 and is led by artistic director Jeffrey Schneider, a native Long Islander who once served as the musical director for the Wading River community chorus.

Featured in the video above is a rendition of “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | The Long Island Gay Men’s Chorus made its North Fork debut Saturday night.

06/28/12 6:00am
06/28/2012 6:00 AM

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead.


Best days ahead
for the Vail

On behalf of the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, we thank the community for the many successes of this year’s Riverhead Blues and Music Festival. While attendance numbers were less than we had hoped for, I was encouraged by the overwhelming support voiced by everyone involved, audience, crew and many local businesses.

As most know, Vail-Leavitt Music Hall provides a venue for fundraising events supporting charitable groups like Toys for Tots, East End Hospice, Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter, as well as medical benefits helping locals in need. We presented programs for the East End Arts, I Love Riverhead, and every year of the annual Riverhead Idol competition as well as public forums, Business Improvement District meetings, graduations for Riverhead Charter School and town inauguration ceremonies.

These and other events have been presented without charge for the community’s benefit. We appreciate all support in our continuing work.

I thank the Town Board for approving the festival and the fates above for two days of great weather. Many people complimented the free performances given in Grangebel Park, showcasing acoustic acts in a beautiful and relaxed setting.

We thank Joe Lauro of Historic Films for previewing the opportunity beginning next month when the Vail brings movies back to downtown Riverhead (albeit in digital form). Unique performances at the Vail will help establish the downtown as an entertainment district with an active nightlife.

With insufficient space here to express thanks more fully, a complete version of this statement may be found on our website at vailleavitt.org.

Finally, I would especially like to thank my colleagues on the Vail-Leavitt board. I encourage interested community members to contact us via our website — vailleavitt.org — or email us at vail-leavitt@live.com. Whether offering suggestions, assistance or volunteering, I ask you to help us grow and develop through your participation in this community. With your involvement, I believe the best days of the festival and our Music Hall still lie ahead. Thank you.

Robert Barta

president, Council for the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, Inc.

co-director, 2012 Riverhead Blues and Music Festival


Here’s why
we stayed home

I and seven to 10 other friends missed the music and fun times at this year’s Riverhead Blues Festival, our first absence ever. No, it was not the Mattituck Strawberry Festival or the Shelter Island 10K Run that was the reason. It was the short-sighted policies of Vince Tria and the festival organizers.

What was once free admission became $5 per person, then $10 and now $15. What was a “bring your chair and cooler” was now a “no-no.” What was once a rare opportunity for Riverhead Town to showcase its riverside venue for residents and visitors is now just a continuing political squabble and another money-making event.

Ed Goldstein


Not Emperor Walter

This is in response to the June 21 News-Review article entitled “Walter says he’s sorry after tirade.” Mr. Walter has attacked so many people over the past few years that I can’t believe he is the least bit sorry about anything, except that he can’t deny it this time. He says, “When you are a public figure, sometimes you have public things come out that you don’t want to come out. So, obviously, I said some words that I regret …” He doesn’t say he didn’t mean what he said, he just seems to be sorry it was made public. He’s been a lawyer for years; you can’t convince me that he would be so careless with his words if he didn’t mean them.

Even when he said he was sorry to Councilwoman Giglio, he said only that he was out of line, and he shouldn’t have done it, not that he didn’t mean it. What a cheap shot to quote from the Bible, which doesn’t change anything he said.

Painful words are not that easy to forget, and judging from his past treatment of the people around him that has already been made public, this will not be the last time he tries to intimidate those he believes are beneath him, because that’s the mode he uses to get what he wants. He forgets that he’s working for us and is our supervisor, not our emperor.

I just hope all residents finally see this for themselves.

Helga Guthy


Get moving on EPCAL

Fortunately, it would appear that cooler heads in Albany have put the brakes on Supervisor Sean Walter’s new EPCAL bureaucracy. Unfortunately, Mr. Walter is likely to use this setback as another excuse to delay sales and development at EPCAL and any chance of tax relief for our town.

Rather than his Don Quixote quest to chase a bad idea to supplant established agencies that have development and environmental expertise with Riverhead’s notoriously inept Town Board to control the site, perhaps Mr. Walter and the council members might consider some ideas that could actually work in Riverhead.

Here are some suggestions:

An Indian casino: Governor Cuomo has already given the green light to gambling and it’s been a tremendous success at Aqueduct and Empire City. Casino workers get real wages to support families. The Shinnecock Indians already tried to do something in Riverhead and were rebuffed. Mr. Walter needs to get beyond his personal views and at least consider this as a possibility.

Motor sports: NASCAR is the fastest-growing sport in America and the town turned down a $150 million offer to create a facility in Riverhead to pursue “sand mine mountain” brought to the town by alleged criminals involved in prostitution and money laundering. There is no excuse to blow off a legitimate deal by real players to bring a world class facility to Riverhead.

Aviation: With FedEx down the street and a working rail spur, it’s just a shame to see $500 million of U.S. government-built runways wasted. Limited cargo use with tight control over hours of operation to protect the public could generate hundreds of high-paying jobs. And plenty of the rich and famous from Long Island’s Gold Coast and the Hamptons would love to have a place to keep their Gulf Streams for easy access for those quick trips to the South of France.

With thousands of acres available, there’s plenty of room to pursue all these opportunities and other good ideas as well. But under Mr. Walter and his predecessors, Riverhead has gained a reputation as “The Little Town that Can’t.” If anything, the supervisor has displayed (sometimes misplaced) passion and intensity in what he does. It’s time for the supervisor to jettison his past failures and use those skills to get something moving in EPCAL that works and can lower taxes.

Ron Hariri

05/11/12 2:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | There will be three performances of 'Guys and Dolls' beginning tonight at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead.

A bushel and a peck of talented kids and teens will take to the stage at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead this weekend in “Guys and Dolls Jr.” Performances are today and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15.

The show is produced by ACT OUT East All Children’s Theatre, a performing arts education for young people age 6 and up. ACT OUT offers school year and summer camp programs that provide training in all aspects of musical theater and nurture students’ skills, confidence and creativity. For more information, visit actouteast.com.

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03/25/12 9:16am
03/25/2012 9:16 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Chris Sachse of Center Moriches sings 'Magic Carpet Ride.'

A local singing event that has raised about $10,000 for East End Hospice during its first two years returned for a third Saturday.

Sing East End 2012 is an event where people buy a ticket to either watch other people singing or sing themselves on stage at the historic Vail-Leavitt Music Hall on Peconic Avenue in downtown Riverhead.

Doug Wald of Riverhead, a senior director of Internet marketing for CA Technologies, as well as an accomplished Karaoke singer himself, organizied the event, in which people sing Karaoke for charity.

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He became a fan of karaoke only a few years ago, and now knows more than 150 songs. He became a fan of East End Hospice, a Westhampton Beach-based nonprofit that provides end-of-life care, when his late mother fell ill several years ago.

“This is my way of giving back, for all the things they did for my mother and my family,” he said.

A number of local restaurants donated food, including Farm Country Kitchen, CK’s Deli and Catering, Digger O’Dells, Jerry and the Mermaid, Buoy One Seafood, Carlo’s of Riverhead, Signature Bagels, and Country Rotisserie, Mr. Wald said.

Sing East End 2012 was hosted by Ginny Naugles,  a hostess at Outerbanks and Lobster Roll, and James Ruggerio, a dining host at Jerry and the Mermaid on East Main Street.

The music was provided by Mike “Flip” Gadzinski of Flipside Karaoke, a host at Jerry and the Mermaid and Cody’s.

02/02/12 3:30pm
02/02/2012 3:30 PM

JOHN NEELY FILE PHOTO | Performers at the 2010 Blues Festival.

The Riverhead Blues Festival appears to have the three votes necessary to gain approval from the Riverhead Town Board, which is expected to vote on the matter at a 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

But it’s going to be close.

Vince Tria, the secretary of the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, which runs the event as their major fundraiser, said they plan to hold it on June 16 and 17 in the riverfront parking lot in downtown Riverhead. They moved it from the customary mid-July date because the weather is too hot in July and because it would be competing with Patchogue’s Great South Bay Music Festival, which also is in mid-July, Mr. Tria said.

Vail-Leavitt didn’t hold a Blues Festival last year, after having staved off an attempted takeover of the festival the year before by the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, which was backed by the Business Improvement District and Supervisor Sean Walter.

This year, everybody says they support the festival, but it still may just barely have enough votes to pass Tuesday.

The Town Board discussed the matter with Mr. Tria at the Thursday Town Board work session.

Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten said they’ll support the festival. Mr. Wooten said he’s troubled by the fact that the festival, which is a paid admission event, fences off public property.

Councilman George Gabrielsen was undecided and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she can’t support it unless their insurance is in place, which at this point, it is not.

Councilman John Dunleavy wasn’t at Thursday’s work session but he was following along on the News-Review’s live blog of the meeting and posted a comment saying he supports the festival so long as they get their insurance in before the event. Mr. Walter later called him to confirm that.

Town officials have said they will give Vail-Leavitt more time to get their insurance in, which the town code section on special events requires be in place 120 days before the event. Mr. Walter said he will give them up to 30 days before the event.

Ms. Giglio said she didn’t vote for the Polish Festival or the Country Fair last year because the promoters of those festivals didn’t have their insurance in place before the vote. She said she wants to be consistent.

Mr. Tria said that if they cannot get the insurance, then they won’t host the event.

Mr. Dunleavy said last month that he will be on vacation in Florida in February but will fly up to Riverhead for the regular Town Board meeting, where items are voted on.


08/13/11 10:54am
08/13/2011 10:54 AM

A two-night multi-media art and music festival began last night at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead, produced by Robert Edwin of Port Jefferson and Allen Boules of Rocky Point, who are co-founders of Fresh Art Long Island and Live Recording Studios. They call it the “Filling the Void Fest.”

The festival on Friday night featured the installation, ‘The Great American Living Room,” which  reflects the nostalgic relationship that “we as a culture have with our own living rooms and how the television married the living room and had billions of children, hanging on its immediate past, fiending  for the next best thing,” according to the producers.

Mr. Boules and Mr. Edwin say the “Filling the Void Fest” represents “the resiliency of a group of artists and  musicians who resist what is forced upon them and refuse to buy into the idea that there is happiness in being numb.”

Fresh Art, founded five years ago, produces about a dozen art/music festivals a year. It is associated with Toast, a nine- year-old  gallery in Port Jefferson owned by Terry Scarlatos. Mr. Edwin said that he was a huge fan of now defunct Riverhead’s annual Blues Festival and that “Filling the Void” was in no way an effort to  replace it.

“It is our art and music festival doing it our way with our own vision,” he said.

The featured musical act Saturday night at 10 p.m. will be the Hip-Hop group “Ancient Tongue” from Connecticut. On Friday night, about 60 people attended, including the staff and the bands.

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BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Performing the opening music at the "Filling the Void" two-night art and music fest in Riverhead Friday was the Long Island rock band, The Visitors.