Freeport blues festival aids Sandy victims

The band Two Finger Jake is getting ready The band Two Finger Jake is getting ready to preform at the Long Island Blues Relief Festival, which hopes to raise $100,000 for Hurricane Sandy victims was held at Cow Meadow Park in Freeport on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

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They're playing the blues in Freeport to lift the spirits of Sandy-scarred families.

The Long Island Blues Festival, being held this weekend in Cow Meadow Park, aims to raise money for residents of the shoreline community still battling back from the 2012 superstorm.

The festival, with a lineup of 17 local and out-of-state bands, started at noon Saturday and continues through Sunday night.

"The blues is all about hard times and emotions, and Sandy sure put us through some hard times," said one festivalgoer, Karen Brown, 57, of East Meadow. "And the blues is about surviving, and we are surviving."

Designs for the festival's posters and T-shirts sprang from a competition for 10th-graders from about 18 schools across Long Island, according to the event's guitar-playing organizer, Frank Napoli, 45, of Farmingdale.

Napoli said he launched the festival last year -- raising $3,500 for Sandy relief -- after talking with struggling superstorm survivors at Atlantic Pizzeria, the Freeport restaurant he's owned for years.

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Five or six Freeport families are slated to benefit from this year's proceeds, he said. Tickets are $35.

"I think the hardest thing we had to do is to choose the families," Napoli said.

Lorraine Maher, 60, of Merrick, said she brought her brother to the festival Saturday to celebrate his birthday -- and support her nephew, his wife and their two young sons who haven't been able to return to their Sandy-damaged home in Freeport.

They've been living in the basement of the nephew's mother-in-law, she said.

"And he's been paying a mortgage," she said.

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