Live music may be temporarily unavailable on Long Island but Long Island musicians are still playing. In a collective YouTube video, more than 70 local performers came together to recreate the 1985 “We Are The World” video during the COVID-19 quarantine.
The new video, dubbed “The Quarantine Mix,” was an idea from baritone saxophonist Adam Seely, who plays in the Billy Joel tribute band Big Shot. Together with his wife, singer Kristin of 45 RPM’s “C’mon Get Happy Show,” the couple reached out to local musicians.
“We know enough people,” said Kristin Seely. “But it just blossomed and grew and grew.”
Every night since the quarantine began, the couple would put their twin 8-year-olds to bed and work on the project at their home in Farmingdale.
“Kristin made an Excel sheet with all the singers and side-by-side lyrics then we started casting it on paper,” said Adam Seely. “We had everyone record their line and a chorus part.”
Brent Carter of Funk Filharmonik and the Average White Band opens the video with the famous line sung by co-composer Lionel Richie, “There comes a time / When we heed a certain call / When the world must come together as one” as his bandmate Tom Bowes, also of Sir Duke, blends in with him as Stevie Wonder did with Richie 35 years ago.
Each musician is shown performing from their home taking on various parts such as Christian Macchio of Captain Jack doing the late Kenny Rogers’ lines, Chris Cangeleri of Badlands singing the Bruce Springsteen portion and Tammi Wolfe of the New York Bee Gees doing her best Cyndi Lauper. Three singers portray song co-writer Michael Jackson’s role: Amber Ferrari, Dawnette Darden of the HooDoo Loungers and Kevin Morris of That Motown Band and Shining Star.
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Growing up Michael DelGuidice of Big Shot and Joel’s official band admits he was “obsessed” with the original video and signed on immediately. But, surprisingly, he’s not singing the Billy Joel segment.
“My favorite part was Steve Perry,” says DelGuidice, who also sings the Ray Charles lines. “I went with what I loved watching. It was the showstopper that blew me away.”
The Seelys put a three-piece band together, consisting of keyboardist Mark Bonder of Wonderous Stories, drummer Mike Sorrentino of Big Shot and Decadia and bassist Will Shelley of Captain Jack, to re-record the backing track. Meanwhile, Adam Seely arranged a 12-part harmony horn section of local musicians which served as the opening fanfare.
However, the biggest challenge was blending all the vocals together. For that task Adam turned to his old college roommate Jay Mafale of The Wind-Up Shop in Centerport.
“Jay took all the audio outlets and mixed them together,” said Adam. “Everyone was recording their parts on smartphones in different rooms — their kitchen, basement, bathroom — it was a wide range of audio sources but that was part of the charm. We are all making do in the quarantine.”
Genessa Aliberti of Decadia and the Selena Experience, who sings the Diana Ross section of the song, now feels even more connected with all her fellow LI musicians.
“There’s a strong sense of camaraderie as we are collectively all home without jobs,” Aliberti said. “When the stay-at-home orders are lifted, we are hoping there’s a resurgence of nightlife on Long Island.”