The owners of the Paramount set out to change the concert-going experience on Long Island when they opened their fully renovated venue in Huntington last year.
They wanted to bring a different level of performer to the area -- the up-and-coming acts that aren't quite able to fill Nassau Coliseum or Nikon at Jones Beach Theater just yet, and veteran acts looking for a more intimate space to connect with their fans -- as well as give Long Islanders a bit of the club feel of Manhattan and Brooklyn. As they celebrate their first anniversary today, they seem to have succeeded, winning over music fans and musicians alike.
"It's a pretty ambitious project," Billy Joel said, after enjoying several shows at the new venue. "I'm glad these guys are doing it, and I think Huntington is a great town for it. This place is like a throwback to the glory days of rock and roll. It's a great venue. I like seeing the standing crowd. They've got that big, long bar. They've got extra backrooms and little inner clubs within clubs."
Joel says it was at the Paramount that he first saw Dix Hills' Ryan Star and became a fan of his music. "He was great -- I didn't even know he was a Long Island guy," he said. "I was really impressed with him. He's got great stage presence. He's got really good material. He's got a good band. . . . This guy was jumping all over the room, hanging off the balconies, and I thought, 'Hey, I used to do ---- like that.' "
Star has become a fan of the Paramount as well, saying he hadn't been performing on Long Island because there wasn't really a place the right size for him to play. "There hasn't been that venue for me to call home on Long Island," Star said. "This is a really cool place. This could become home."
Those kinds of endorsements are music to the ears of the Paramount's directors -- Dominick Catoggio, Jim Condron, Brian Doyle and Stephen Ubertini -- and it's what they continue to focus on.
"Our goal is to offer the public and bands musical memories each and every night," Doyle says, adding that educating the public and the music industry about what the Paramount has to offer remains its biggest challenge. "We take great pride in our staff, whose primary focus is excellent service and to treat everyone like they're a VIP."
Taking Back Sunday singer Adam Lazzara says the Rockville Centre band loved the venue so much when they played there last year that they were eager to return with their tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of their "Tell All Your Friends" album this fall. The band chose to return to the Paramount on Thanksgiving Eve, even though they probably could have sold out another show at the twice-as-big Terminal 5 in Manhattan.
Condron says the Paramount makes it a priority to support rising artists. "In the past year alone, we hosted so many up-and-coming acts like Gavin DeGraw, Karmin, Rachel Platten, Chris Rene, Ryan Star and even British megastars The Wanted all before they were huge," he says.
Doyle says the Paramount plans to continue to offer a diverse schedule, as it has in its first year. "The venue should be enjoyed by all ages," Doyle says, adding that the Paramount will present its first children's show in February with Clifford the Big Red Dog, while running the gamut from Counting Crows in October to The Monkees in December. "Overall, our attendance has been fantastic. We continue to enjoy seeing our first-time customers react to our expansive urban-feel room, to allow our customers to escape to virtually any city of their choice."
Though the Paramount's renovation is now complete, the venue doesn't plan to stand still. "There will always be creative changes," Ubertini says. "We want people to discover something new every time they come to a show. Recently, we opened the doors to The Founders Room -- our members-only speak-easy beneath the venue, which is frequented and loved by nearly every act that comes through the Paramount."
Some of the New York Avenue venue's neighbors have complained about the lack of parking in the area during concerts. Catoggio says the Paramount is continuing to work on the parking issue with the Town of Huntington, though he says parking isn't their biggest challenge.
"The biggest challenge for us is to continue to have new people discover the Paramount," says Catoggio. "Once you have experienced a show at the venue, you will want to return. The place is simply intoxicating."
WHAT The Paramount
WHERE 370 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO 631-673-7300, paramountny.com
The Paramount has a rockin' October
BY GLENN GAMBOA, firstname.lastname@example.org
To celebrate its first anniversary, the Paramount has put together a massive "Rocktober" lineup next month. Some of the highlights include:
3OH!3 (Oct. 5) The Colorado electro-popsters behind "Don't Trust Me" will preview their forthcoming "Omens" album, which includes the new single "You're Gonna Love This."
HEART (Oct. 10) It's a big fall season for Ann and Nancy Wilson, who have a new album, "Fanatic," and a new memoir, "Kicking & Dreaming," as well as a new tour. The Wilson sisters also were nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year and deserve to eventually get in on the strength of "Barracuda" alone.
FIONA APPLE (Oct. 13) The ever-fascinating Apple, whose raw new album "The Idler Wheel . . ." has drawn lots of attention, has made recent shows even more interesting following her arrest for hashish possession in Texas and her public statements about it.
LONG ISLAND MUSIC HALL OF FAME INDUCTION GALA (Oct. 18) Honoring a wide range of Long Island artists -- from Taylor Dayne to Suffocation, from the Lovin' Spoonful to Zebra -- should guarantee an eclectic night, even before Twisted Sister's Dee Snider sings Broadway classics.
INDIGO GIRLS (Oct. 25) It's the 25th anniversary of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers' debut "Strange Fire" this year and their folk-rock remains "Closer to Fine."
COUNTING CROWS (Oct. 26) Adam Duritz and friends will take a break from their tour of amphitheaters and large ballrooms to play an intimate show at the Paramount. Perhaps the California rockers will even do their Long Island-inspired rocker "Hard Candy."
SOCIAL DISTORTION (Oct. 27) The punk-rock heroes are still rocking after 34 years, and last year's "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes" shows Mike Ness is still stretching the band's boundaries.