Matt O'Connell, Libby O'Connell and John Zona, members of Suffolk Band, talk about their music video "Tomorrow I'll Smile (The Vaccine Video)," which incorporates footage of happy people who have just received their vaccine shots. Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman; Andrew Morales / Shuttersound Pictures/Raychel Brightman; Andrew Morales / Shuttersound Pictures

Pictures of giddy people snapped after getting their COVID-19 vaccinations have lit up social media for months.

Seizing upon post-vax elation, a trio of 60-plus Long Islanders recorded a song and music video encouraging people to get immunized to protect themselves and others from the deadly virus.

"Hopefully it’s more upbeat than the occasionally preachy public service ads on TV," said Matt O’Connell, a venture capitalist and songwriter of the happy, hummable "Tomorrow I’ll Smile (The Vaccine Video)." He recorded it with his wife, Libby, an Emmy-winning producer and historian, and their friend, John Zona, a sales consultant.

They all live in Huntington and collectively call themselves Suffolk Band. They share a deep love for music and an appreciation for its powers to move people. If their video, posted April 30, inspires just one person to get vaxxed, that’s a step toward what Matt calls "heard immunity."

And why not? Herd immunity, according to reports, looks to remain elusive as vaccinations continue to roll out. As of mid-May, New York State stats for total population that has completed the vaccine series stand at 46.6% in Nassau County and 40.6% in Suffolk County.

Matt O'Connell jams with Libby O'Connell and John Zona at Zona Recording...

Matt O'Connell jams with Libby O'Connell and John Zona at Zona Recording Studio in Huntington on May 12. Credit: Raychel Brightman

A pod, then a purpose

Suffolk Band was born during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to beat boredom. The O’Connells formed a pod with Zona, who has been a friend since he sold their daughter a car a couple of years ago. Zona’s basement, home to Zona Recording Studio, is where the music happened beginning last November.

Matt sings and plays guitars, mandolin, harmonica, banjo and fiddle (a spirited solo begins at the 1:55 mark). Zona handled recording and engineering, drums, bass and guitar. They fine-tuned and recorded the song on and off for about three months.

"We were in separate rooms to stay safe," said Matt. Libby joined them periodically to add harmony. John’s wife, Pam, made smoothies.

There was plenty of improvisation — on the song and simply communicating back and forth. They sometimes shouted to be heard through studio doors.

When the project began, the trio didn’t have a video in mind. It was a way to stay creative. And as they kept busy, the song kept changing. The sound evolved, shifting from a waltz to something bouncier and breezier.

"My sister in California heard the song," said Matt. "She said, ‘You know, this is the way I feel. I have not wanted to smile for a year and I’ve been kind of depressed. I’m ready to smile again.’ "

Between hearing that and his dismay at people expressing hesitation about getting vaxxed, a light bulb glowed: Make a public service announcement. Soul Asylum’s 1990s-era music video for its hit "Runaway Train," which urged viewers to find missing kids, served as an inspiration.

Shot in the middle of March by Andrew Morales, 27, owner of ShutterSound Pictures, a wedding filming service in Arverne, Queens, "Tomorrow I’ll Smile" uses signs of the times to get a message across.

One of many images from Suffolk Band's music video for...

One of many images from Suffolk Band's music video for "Tomorrow I'll Smile (The Vaccine Video)" that shows an elated post-vax couple outside the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. Credit: Andrew Morales / Shuttersound Pictures

Shots of shots

A woman in a mask outside the Jacob Javits Convention Center vax site in Manhattan happily points to a poster reading "Vaccines Save Lives." Another one reads: "I Got My Shot!"

The imagery shifts to Suffolk Band members strumming and drumming and performing to a recorded track laid down before the video was shot. Then, images of more happy people outside a Walgreens in Hicksville. And back to the band. Vaxxed people groove.

"My bread and butter is weddings," said Morales. "When Matt said the video was to promote vaccinations, that was something I could roll with." The project also struck a family chord. His father is chief of personnel for the NYPD and was involved in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The upbeat video’s mission is to entertain and inspire and to be inclusive. "We wanted to include people from as many walks of life and backgrounds as we could," said Morales. "We wanted to make sure that there was good representation throughout the video."

While many people were glad to participate in the video when asked, some nixed the invitation. It was a reminder that vaccination is a divisive issue.

"There were a number of people who absolutely did not support what we were doing," said Matt. "They were opposed to it. There were some hard nos."

Suffolk Band revels in the yeses.

Andrew Morales, who shot the video for "Tomorrow I'll Smile,"...

Andrew Morales, who shot the video for "Tomorrow I'll Smile," films John Zona and Matt O'Connell at Zona Recording Studio in Huntington. Credit: Raychel Brightman

'Still a love song'

"I love the shot of the woman with pink hair dancing by the signs," said Libby, who has sung and harmonized with Matt for decades. The couple’s enduring story is at the heart of "Tomorrow I’ll Smile."

"We grew up together in Pennsylvania," said Libby. "When I was 5, I met this older man who was 7." They began dating in the mid-’70s. They were drawn to each other’s curiosity about the world and love of music. They married in 1978.

The lyrics tell a true story that has been tweaked by poetic license. It conjures a familiar magical moment in every couple’s relationship. In the song, the moment happens at the tip of the South Fork in summer. Fact-check: It was winter. In Boston.

The song opens: "One Friday in Montauk, I got off the train," Matt sings. "Softly falling summer rain. You rushed up and hugged me and whispered in my ear … Words I didn’t know I’d been waiting to hear."

The Chorus begins: "Tomorrow, I’ll smile when I remember today, Cause that’s when I suddenly heard you say, That you love me! It blew me away, Yeah, tomorrow I’ll smile when I remember today."

Suffolk Band believes that down the road people will smile when recalling getting vaccinated against COVID-19 — and the new beginning it marked.

Or, as the lyrics put it: "I’m gonna wake up with a smile in my heart / For the happy new life just getting its start."

Zona is proud of Suffolk Band’s debut. "I think the chemistry works," he said.

As of mid-May, the video had more than 1,100 views and its share of rave comments:

"What a great, fun song! Brought a smile to my face this morning. Got my first shot last week!"

"Great happy song and makes me want to get vaccinated … again!!"

" … crucial message."

The response in calls and emails has also been positive. "People have encouraged us to keep getting the message out there," said Libby.

The group is now jamming on its second song, "Sidewalk Serenade." It’s designed to stir up excitement about New York City.

Matt marvels that a private long-ago moment has gone multimedia and may make a difference in people’s lives. For all that’s changed, he said, "Tomorrow I’ll Smile" is "still a love song."

The video doesn't throw away its shot to let everyone know that. The final image: A kiss.

Cameraman Andrew Morales, guitarist and vocalist Matt O'Connell, vocalist Libby...

Cameraman Andrew Morales, guitarist and vocalist Matt O'Connell, vocalist Libby O'Connell and percussionist John Zona outside Zona Recording Studio in Huntington. Credit: Raychel Brightman

See how vaccinated Long Islanders are reclaiming pre-pandmic lives at newsday.com/Act2.