The Arts

LI natives will take the stage at The Suffolk Thursday as part of new original music series

Rock aficionados can head to The Suffolk in downtown Riverhead Thursday, March 2, for an evening of original music.

Long Island-based acts Azwel, Playing Dead and Kate Van Dorn will perform in the first of three showcases that Long Island Stage, a Bohemia-based nonprofit, will host through a partnership with The Suffolk. The other two concerts — slated for March 9 and 16 — will feature three folk and soft rock artists, respectively.

While all three acts have fans around Long Island and in the city, the North Fork is relatively foreign territory for them. Each act has cultivated followings in clubs throughout New York City and its boroughs, Nassau County, central and western Suffolk and the South Fork. But without a venue with a reputation that reaches west, the North Fork is disconnected from much of Long Island’s rock scene.

The organizers of the Long Island Stage showcase at The Suffolk hope to change that, and the artists themselves are excited to expand their audience.

“To be 100% honest, we have no business playing The Suffolk,” Playing Dead singer Sam Hoyos said. “But through something like [Long Island Stage] we are.”

While each artist could fall under the banner of “rock music,” they will bring their own styles to the stage Thursday evening.

Headlining the concert is vocalist and guitarist Jason Perrillo, who performs as Azwel. Backed by three other musicians, Mr. Perrillo will perform songs from across his catalog. 

“It was a little bit more electronic-based when I first started recording,” Mr. Perrillo said. “My style has changed over the years; I’ve incorporated my acoustic instruments into the music.

“Every album that I’ve done on my own basically — I recorded everything and I got better at producing and constructing songs as well,” he continued. “I used to write a little quicker in my younger days and now the songs come slowly, but they come nonetheless.”

As for his lyrics, Mr. Perrillo conjures characters and stories that he hopes connect with listeners.

“I write about anything that comes to mind, probably equally something that’s going on in the news and interpersonal relationships that surround me,” he said. “A lot of it deals with struggles, which can be seen as negative sometimes, but I try to put a positive light on it and spin the lyrics.”

Like Mr. Perrillo, Mr. Hoyos is far from an open book when describing the process of writing Playing Dead songs. He said new melodies are constantly swimming in his head, while lyrics are more elusive, sneaking up on him during seemingly random moments, such as while watching a Netflix documentary or the cult martial arts comedy “The Last Dragon,” which inspired the new track “No Surprise.”

“You would never know if you hear it,” Mr. Hoyos said of the story behind the song. “It just sounds like a random song about whatever I may have been going through.”

The Suffolk Theater in downtown Riverhead. (Credit: Nicholas Grasso)

Ms. Van Dorn, first on the bill, is the most intimate songwriter that will hit the stage Thursday. When she writes lyrics, she said she unfurls her innermost self. 

“Grief is always a big inspiration for me because it’s an emotion that’s difficult to work through,” she said. “So it’s always nice to have a melody that lets you flesh out your feelings.”

She added that she also draws inspiration from “experiences in the music business that have been unfair,” as well as relationships, the latter of which inspired her forthcoming single, “The Pines,” which she will perform Thursday. 

“It’s about coming out of a pretty destructive relationship and having to almost lose part of yourself in order to move on,” Ms. Van Dorn said. 

Tickets for the first Long Island Stage showcase are available online at for $25 plus applicable fees. Doors open Thursday evening at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8.