After 60 years of putting on shows indoors, NYCB Theatre at Westbury is taking the action outdoors. A parking lot party celebrating its 60th anniversary is set for Saturday, complete with bands, craft beer tastings, food trucks and radio station giveaways.
“I hope Long Islanders understand how important the building is,” says WBAB DJ Keith Fingers of Patchogue, who will give away tickets and get the crowd going. “I think it’s so cool that this venue is still around.”
Comedian Richie Minervini, who has played the theater 37 times, opening for the likes of Kevin James, Jerry Vale, Tony Bennett, Jay Black & the Americans and Eddie Money, will be master of ceremonies.StoryWestbury Music Fair/NYCB Theatre turns 60PhotosNYCB Theatre's most memorable showsPhotos11 LI entertainment places we loved
“If you play Westbury one time in your life, then you’ve made it,” says Minervini, who owned and operated the East Side Comedy Club in Huntington from 1978 to 1993. “To be on the same stage as Bob Hope, Don Rickles and all the greats is incredible.”
When it comes to music, Westbury knows how to mix it up. Visitors will get a blend of Americana, reggae, country and adult contemporary.
Oogee Wawa, which means “cheers!” in Zulu, will set the tone with their reggae-rock style on songs like “Spliffs,” “Feelin' Alive Today” and a new single, “Palm Trees.”
“The party atmosphere comes natural to us,” says lead singer Jesse Lee Roenbeck, 31, of Baiting Hollow. “Before we were touring, we worked as bartenders. We simply transferred that vibe to the stage.”
Take a listen to 45RPM and the band’s sound evokes a radio dial that got stuck on an AM station from the ’70s.
“We play the kind of stuff nobody else wants to play,” says singer Danny Calvagna, 61, of Deer Park. “We call it the flashback you were afraid of.”
This sextet performs hits from Tony Orlando and Dawn, the Partridge Family, the Carpenters and the Captain and Tennille.
“Everybody knows the words,” says Calvagna, “and they all sing along.”
For those who are into country, take a walk down Whiskey Road — a cover band that focuses on material from contemporary artists such as Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Gretchen Wilson, Sugarland, and Chris Young.
“It’s my dream to play Westbury,” says singer-guitarist Todd Holly, 51, of Greenlawn. “If you go to a show there, you are immersed in the event . . . you have eye contact with the artist.”
Singer-songwriter J.D. Leonard will round out the bill, singing his Americana originals, such as “Renegade Writer,” “Freedom Ain’t Free” and “And Justice for All.”
“It’s one of the last intimate venues,” says Leonard, who has performed in the round at Westbury, opening for Air Supply. “It’s an honor to play there.”
For $15, patrons can choose five 3-ounce tastes of craft beer from more than 20 boutique breweries in the Northeast.
“It’s great to engage directly with the customer,” says Bert Fernandez, founder of Fire Island Beer Co. “We love to expose them to new and different things.”
Fire Island Beer Co. will pour its flagship Red Wagon IPA, a blend of English- and American-style IPA, and Sea Salt Ale, a blond ale that finishes with some Atlantic sea salt.
Port Jefferson Brewing Co. is ready to serve up its most popular beer, Party Boat IPA, which features 10 different styles of hops.
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” says owner Mike Philbrick, 40, of Port Jefferson. “There’s a lot of hops but enough malt to balance it out.”
Looking for something light? Try Port Jeff’s Beach Beer, a summertime Belgian wheat ale with orange and coriander highlights.
“Tasting are fun because you can discover beers you didn’t know existed,” says Philbrick. “The Westbury event might be the place where you’ll find your next favorite beer.”