Singer-songwriter Michael DelGuidice, from Billy Joel’s band and Joel tribute Big Shot, is taking his music to the streets. The Miller Place-raised musician is holding a peaceful protest Sunday asking the New York State Liquor Authority to reconsider its current pandemic restrictions on live music venues. The event will take place on the northwest corner of Wall and Gerard Streets in Huntington village at 3 p.m.
"If we don’t do something to save these venues, we’re not going to have any places to play," says DelGuidice, 49. "In order for your voice to be heard, you have to make a loud cry. We are musicians — we know how to make noise."
DelGuidice was originally set to hold an amplified concert on a stage with a band but that idea was scrapped causing him to address the situation on Facebook.
"We will not be amplified and this is NOT a concert...it is a PEACEFUL and nonpartisan demonstration to bring attention to recent regulations, including the ban on advertised and ticketed events, which unfairly target live music, performers and entertainment venues in our communities," he posted. "Bring your masks, signs and your voices…incidentally we may have some acoustics with us...music heals, unifies and is essential!"
What sparked DelGuidice to create this protest was the SLA’s recent change to its rules: Local venues are no longer allowed to sell tickets to a musical performance or have a cover charge, deeming live music as "incidental" — in the background only as patrons eat and drink.
"Musicians are the ones who get the calls to perform at benefits, funerals, schools and singing national anthems at games yet we are considered ‘incidental’ in the whole scheme of society?" says DelGuidice. "We are tired of the stigma of being considered hobbyists. This is what we do for a living. We are the ones bringing people to the venues to keep them open. Right now the movement is like an assault on the arts."
The plan is to gather musicians, venue owners and people who work in the live music industry together to make a strong statement requesting that the SLA reconsider its rules.
"I don’t understand the science behind the non-ticketing event. What does music in the room have to do with the spreading of the virus if the room is already capped at 150, with people socially distanced and wearing masks when they have to?" says DelGuidice. "Why do all the venues have to be punished? Fine the ones that are doing it wrong and make examples of the ones who are doing it right."
DelGuidice plans to play music to unite everyone while wearing masks and holding up signs.
"I don’t want chaos, we are not looking to obstruct anybody and this is not about politics," he says. "I don’t want anybody to come with political signs. I want the signs to say who you are — a band, a venue or simply SLM — Save Live Music."
In regards to what songs he will play, DelGuidice says he will most likely improvise.
"I’ll trust my gut intuition and go with what I feel in the moment," he claims. "Once we get a bunch of musicians together, it’s going to get creative quick."
Will he do any Joel songs?
"If somebody starts singing, ‘The Longest Time,’ we will all sing it together. I could see that happening," says DelGuidice. "But, this is how Billy made his living. He started in the clubs. If these music venues close, you are not going to have any more iconic artists like Billy Joel."
His overall goal is to get the SLA to consider reversing its initial decision.
"I want the SLA to think twice about this law that is ruining people’s lives and businesses for no good reason. I’m hoping they will turn it around by realizing they went too far," says DelGuidice. "We are all about following the rules, but we are not about to be taken out of society. Music is too essential to the soul. People have gone through a lot in the last six months, they need music."