The Suffolk partners with nonprofit for Long Island original music series

The Suffolk has joined forces with Long Island Stage, a new nonprofit that promotes the visibility of local artists, to present a series of three concerts that will highlight area talent.

Each performance will present a trio of Long Island artists of a single genre. Rock, folk and soft rock acts will grace the stage for three Thursdays, March 2, 9 and 16.

The theater’s partnership with Long Island Stage arrives after the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the live entertainment industry. Following the precarious period, Gary Hygom, the theater’s executive director since the fall of 2021, explained The Suffolk turned primarily to tribute acts as a “fallback position” to regain audiences with more familiar entertainment.

Now, audiences are back and both entities hope Long Islanders are eager to discover something new.

“We have seen growth this fall and I’m assuming this spring and summer will be no different,” Mr. Hygom said. “So I am very much looking to attracting more and more original artists and get back to what the theater was originally and what all performing arts centers should be: A nice blend of touring headlining artists, tribute shows and local musicians.”

Bohemia-based Long Island Stage, which became a nonprofit last month, is a product of the pandemic. Founder Brian McAuliff, a lifelong local music connoisseur raised on acts that dominated clubs like Mad Hatter in Stony Brook and Cheers in Deer Park during the ’80s, aimed to provide a platform for artists while venues were shuttered. He converted the vacant showroom at Bri-Tech, his technology company in Bohemia that offers commercial and residential audio-video services, into a recording studio. He then hosted a series of seven concerts to give local musicians exposure and a chance to financially support their craft.

“They were gig workers out of work,” Mr. McAuliff said of the artists who participated in 2021. “We made it a TV show format. We broadcasted it live and the artists got a high quality video and audio track they could use for their own promotion and we interviewed them.”

Depending on how the March concerts are received, Long Island Stage and The Suffolk may bolster their mutually beneficial relationship with more performances. Regardless, patrons of The Suffolk can expect more original artists this year and beyond, such as English acoustic guitarist Mike Dawes on Feb. 19 and lifelong performer and producer Jim Messina on April 14.

“It’s about developing a relationship with an audience that they trust what you’re doing, they trust who you’re bringing in,” Mr. Hygom said. “They might not know them, but they know every time they’ve been to The Suffolk, the shows are great, so they’ll give this one a shot. 

“That’s what we’re hoping to create with Long Island Stage, is a trust between a venue, a community and an audience,” Mr. Hygom continued. “Becoming that venue that people turn to to find new artists would be really exciting.”

Tickets for the March concerts are available for $25 plus fees via The first slate of artists will include Kate Van Dorn, Playing Dead and Azwel.

Mr. McAuliff views these three acts — and the six that will follow — as the next slate of artists who will electrify Long Island culture.

“The end goal is for Long Island to have respect as an arts community just like Austin, just like Seattle,” Mr. McAuliff said. “We really have so many historically great creators, we have the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame in Stony Brook … we’re promoting the next hall of farmers by starting them off the right way.”