John Sullivan is planning something new for his 50th birthday Thursday. The Garden City singer-songwriter, best known as leader of the John Sullivan Brigade, will release the debut album from his new Americana band, Throwback Busking, "Homegrown Hootenanny" (South Tenth).
"We have a unique sound," says Sullivan, adding that the band -- singer-guitarist Sullivan, keyboardist Phil Kennelty, drummer Steve Glover, bassist Gregg Steele and guitarist Russ Rogers -- was influenced by the late Levon Helm and his Midnight Ramble shows. "We want our sound to be heard beyond the Nassau loop."
Throwback Busking is trying to find its way into a major festival, perhaps Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza, and that quest is the subject of a documentary by Hofstra student Evan Gardner, who directed the band's first video. Gardner says he found the band's love of music inspiring.
"You're never too old to follow your dream," says the 21-year-old Hofstra junior from Seaford.
Sullivan believes playing a festival could be the break that launches the band. "We don't fit the categories that a record company would want in a band that they would sign," he says, laughing. "We're the anti-band to sign."
It's tough for a new band whose members range in age from 40 to 63 to get attention. "It's a struggle to get this music into the mainstream," Sullivan says. "I've been blessed to have access to Pete Townshend, who's been very encouraging. He says I should go smash my guitar outside an Apple store and get arrested. ... I'm not ready to do that yet. But we'll see how it goes."
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