Nassau County Legis. Vincent Muscarella, Hempstead Town Councilman Ed Ambrosino, Nassau Deputy Planning and Economic Development Commissioner Jon Crist and John Ciotti, general counsel for Nassau University Medical Center, gathered in Bellmore Wednesday night -- not for a community meeting, but to rock.
Along with Steve Orlando and Patrick Owens, these faithful members of the GOP make up the "Dogs of War," a classic rock band that performed to a packed house at The Brokerage Comedy Club, filled with family members, friends and business associates.
"People want to see elected officials do something outside their normal 9-to-5," said Ambrosino, who plays keyboards. "There's no politics involved."
Even though they performed at a comedy club, these guys are no joke. They were on a mission to raise funds for American Legion Post 1033 in Elmont.
Past post commander Ralph Esposito, director of Nassau's Veterans Service Agency, was thrilled with the financial assistance.
"Homeless veterans have become a big issue. Unfortunately, we have a lot of them," Esposito said. "We get them dental cleaning, haircuts, clothes and food. Donations are very much appreciated."
Dressed in different T-shirts representing the various branches of the military, with a giant American flag in the background, the Dogs played a set that included "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones, "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray and "I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles.
"What we lack in talent we make up for in volume," quipped Muscarella, the rhythm guitarist. "We enjoy jamming. It's a harmless outlet for us as long as we don't let it go to our heads."
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The band, whose name stems from a quote from Mark Antony following the death of Julius Caesar, was formed five years ago simply for friendly jams as schedules would allow.
"The band gets along well. There are no egos involved," said Ciotti, who plays drums.
When it came time to gig, they needed a cause.
"We all have a debt of gratitude to the vets," Ambrosino said. "This is our way of giving back."
There's also a certain entertainment value in seeing local politicians play rock star.
"It kind of makes you a little bit more human," said Muscarella, who admits to being the "straight-laced" member of the band. "People get a kick out of seeing a guitar in my hand."