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Custer Observatory in Southold hosts Blow Up Hollywood for event

A view of the tip of the 25''

A view of the tip of the 25'' modified Dobsonian telescope and the night sky above inside of the observatory dome at the Custer Institute and Observatory in Southold, April 25, 2015. By Daniel Brennan Credit: Daniel Brennan

As the sun sets Saturday, the music will start at the Custer Observatory.

Then, the gazing will get going.

The Southold astronomical observatory will host a concert under the stars featuring the local rock group Blow Up Hollywood as part of a series developed by music director Anne Spooner.

“I always try to find some connection with culture, science and astrology,” Spooner says.

The observatory almost always incorporates a component of stargazing after its music programs. This is the first event in which the stars will be admired while a performance is underway.

“It’s almost like the music that will be performed is a soundtrack to the stars,” says Spooner, whose decision it was to hire Blow Up Hollywood to headline the event.


“Our music, at its core, is ambient and ethereal and I believe lends itself to deep contemplation,” says lead singer and guitarist Steve Messina. “Stargazing is the perfect backdrop.”

Blow Up Hollywood has up to eight members. For Saturday’s show, they will perform as a trio — singer/guitarist, cellist and keyboard player. Like its sound, the group’s song lyrics also fit the theme of the event.

Blow Up Hollywood is more of a collective than a true band, according to Messina, who’s taken the lead since it formed 17 years ago.

“Our next record, which will be released in early 2018, is a concept album celebrating our life as stardust,” Messina says. “The title track is ‘Dust From the Stars.’ The song is laden with synthesizers, organs, mellotrons, cellos and guitars.

“It’s a reminder that at our core we are all the same,” Messina says.

One line in the song states: “The stars are only mirrors of you.”

“We will be mainly improvising a score to the night sky,” Messina says. “However, we will also be playing a few of our hits, ‘Shine,’ ‘Coming Home,’ ‘Desert Rose’ and the yet to be released ‘Dust From the Stars.’ ”

The group has 10 albums to its credit.


Ambient art-rock is just one genre that will receive the star treatment at the observatory — Spooner has planned similar events spanning multiple styles through the fall, including classical and chamber music.

From 50 to 100 people are expected at the upcoming concert. Custer can accommodate as many as 200 outdoors.

Guests are encouraged to bring folding chairs or blankets, and telescopes. The observatory has a handful of stationary telescopes mounted to concrete bases and mobile varieties. Whether you are more music minded than astronomically focused is of little relevance at these events, Spooner says.

“Part of the benefit of combining the music with the stars is exposing a larger group of people to science or music,” she says. “It’s nice, and it benefits a lot of different people.”

Blow Up Hollywood

WHEN | WHERE 8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24, 1115 Main Bayview Rd., Southold

INFO 631-765-2626,

ADMISSION $15 ($10 ages 12 and younger)


7 p.m. July 15

The Red Door Chamber Players perform a patriotic concert of classics, including Antonín Dvorrřák’s “American” string quartet.

6 p.m. Sept. 2

“A Little Night Music,” performed by the Transitions Saxophone Quartet, features compositions from Mozart to Thelonious Monk.

ADMISSION $10 (free ages 12 and younger)


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