When you walk into the Boulton Center in Bay Shore Saturday night, you will not only hear "The Time Warp," you will be thrown into one as NYRMA (New York Roots Music Association) makes the radio come alive for its "Ultimate Battle of the Bands -- 1975 AM vs. FM" show. Two groups of musicians will blend light pop hits off the AM dial with FM rock staples from 40 years ago building a virtual mix tape on stage.
In 2010, the concept of NYRMA was born when East Northport residents Tom Ryan and Steve Prisco were faced with a dilemma. These two bandmates from Americana group The Blaggards were disenchanted with playing the local bar scene.
"It's really exhausting and redundant. You end up competing with your friends to get the same gigs," says Ryan, 56. "The idea came about to find a home base and all pull together to do a show."
NYRMA has more than 200 Long Island-based performers in its bullpen. For the AM/FM show, they will use 40 where a core set of musicians in each band will have rotating singers on every song.
"We realized that there's strength in numbers," says Prisco, 60. "Rather than doing the whole show ourselves, we use different vocalists from all kinds of ages and backgrounds."
NYRMA has become a hub for local musicians to connect and find a new avenue to perform.
“We don’t audition. If you are into it, come on down,” says Ryan. “We just want to know if you can perform and have a good attitude. It’s like — be nice or leave.”
The first show took place at the American Legion Hall in Plainview where NYRMA pulled off a program centered on The Kinks' "Muswell Hillbillies" album.
"It was the most fun I've ever had playing live in my life," says Ryan. "Everybody got to share and work together to make the show good. We hit on a concept that was artful yet fun."
BACK TO THE '70s
After pulling off two successful battles — rockabilly (Gene Vincent vs. Eddie Cochran) and 1965 (U.K. vs. U.S.), NYRMA wanted to move forward along the timeline.
"In 1975 the split was really happening between FM and AM radio and the differences were very apparent," says Prisco. "There's a clear line between the two music styles."
Two bands will sit on opposite sides of the stage trading off light pop AM tunes like "S.O.S." by ABBA, Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas next to FM classics such as "Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith, The Who's "Squeeze Box" and "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen. An AM/FM collective performance of "The Time Warp" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" closes out the concert.
Although it's dubbed a "battle," it's less about competition and more focused on entertainment.
"We are not really trying to determine a winner but rather get the audience involved in the whole NYRMA experience," says Ryan.
Prisco adds, "Our goal is that everyone has a good time and supports local music. We want to let people know that there's a wealth of talent here on Long Island."
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, YMCA Boulton Center, 37 W. Main St., Bay Shore
INFO 631-969-1101, boultoncenter.org