Our Voices for Veterans Choir is made up of two choral groups under the expert musical direction of Ms. Rachel Blackburn and Mr. Vladimir Duge. They are highly regarded music teachers at Hempstead High School. The first component, the Hempstead Select Chorale, is comprised of the school choir's most outstanding voices. Through the years, Ms. Blackburn has led the Chorale to receive abundant recognition and wonderful performance opportunities, including performing in Vienna, Austria, and Verona, Italy.
Many of her loyal students refused to separate themselves from her outstanding musical leadership and guidance upon graduation. So, in 2010, alumni joined forces with the Chorale to form the Voices of Virtue, the second component of our choir. This unique blend of current and post high school voices has traveled to Prague, Czech Republic, and to San Juan, Puerto Rico, representing America in International Competitions, and has returned with the highest scores.
The overall mission for these singers is to share and highlight the music of their cultural roots throughout the community, nation, and the world. It is fitting, therefore, that we proudly present this talented group of vocalists to perform with our band for our veterans, under the banner: The Voices for Veterans, with the continued direction of Ms. Blackburn and Mr. Duge. Their enthusiasm and energy is apparent in their performance, as is their respect and appreciation for our American veterans and the sacrifices they have made.
Born into a musical family in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Frank grew up listening to his Dad, Aunts and Cousins sing and play. His Dad made a living as a singer in the band Juke Box Saturday Nite. His Aunt Margie was a sought after wedding singer. Her version of Ave Maria graced many a church in Frank started playing in his Dad’s band at the age of 15. By the time he was 17, he was playing in such popular 80’s hot spots as Studio 54. He has sung and/or played Guitar in numerous bands such asBonjourney, Three, and Nothing But Blue. He has spent time in the acting world as well, garnering roles in Sweeney Todd and 12 Angry Men. Frank says “I feel very fortunate anytime I can pick up a guitar or sing. The truth is, it’s a gift. I didn’t work hard for it, like an Olympic runner works hard. It was bestowed on me. And anytime I can give back anything, like participating in an event like Voices for Veterans.....then the circle comes back around. My Father taught me what I know, and it is nice to give back to the people who give so much for our Freedom. My father closed every show with “God Bless America” and held a flag while singing that song. So this is a personal nod back to my Dad. He would have been proud.”
Mike Travis is currently in the Daybreak Orchestra, an eight piece band performing mainly at weddings and corporate parties. He’s been a part of this group since 1989. He also finds the time to perform in Dr. G’s Soul Samaritans, Rock City, RPM, Fran Diamond and the Hits. He has also previously belonged to Heaven, NRG and Hollywood Nytes. A man of many talents, Mike has taught creative writing and theatre at Mark Twain Middle School for the Gifted and Talented in Coney Island, NY. He has published poems and stories in various literary anthologies and periodicals. In addition, Mike has appeared in Off-Broadway productions and Regional theatre, film, and television. He originated the role of Fire Chief Beatty in the musical adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 at Wings Theatre in NYC. His other roles include Jeff Douglas in the Broadway Grand Opera production of Brigadoon, Riff in West Side Story, Fagan in Oliver, R.P. Mc Murphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha.
Female vocalist, songwriter and producer from Long Island, Jill Driesen Wasserman, known amongst followers simply as JayCee has entertained audiences nationally. Her bold signature voice embraces the true effervescence of America’s rich musical past, with the youthful freshness of the present as she captivates an audience whether she is performing classic standards, hit Broadway show tunes, mid and up tempos, contemporary favorites or her own originals. JayCee began her career singing in popular houses on Long Island and in New York City. Her reputation and ability to carry a tune afforded her opportunities to open and perform with some of the greatest artists in the business, in addition to gaining many as fans themselves. From the famed Lincoln Center and notable jazz and Blues Festivals to A-List Night Clubs, fantastic cruise ships and Concert venues to include singing our National Anthem in sports arenas, JayCee has delighted audiences around the nation. As songstress JayCee’s experienced, harmonious, dreamy rhythmic sense of timing and tone make her one of the most sought after vocalists on the scene.
Some performers show off their musical chops or their five-octave vocal range, forgetting about their audience. Elliot Goldberg is an entertainer. He wants the audience to enjoy the show and to look forward to the next performance. Elliot is a fine vocalist, all-around musician and songwriter. His instruments include guitar, drums and piano. He is also available as a one man band and a D.J. In fact, it is not unusual for Elliot to switch instruments during a live performance. Although best described as a rocker, Elliot is experienced in other musical genres. He played in various jazz ensembles during his school years. Elliot’s club date work has let him to play several other styles including Top Forty, standards and ethnic music, including Jewish, Italian, Spanish and Irish. Elliot has played throughout New York State and has made several live appearances on college radio (WBAU 90.3 FM).
Naomi Rodriguez A worshipper with a unique voice and sense of style, Naomi Ruth brings a fresh and edgy flavor to gospel music. She comes from a musical family that has made an impact on worship and secular music alike in Suriname and the Netherlands. Her mission is to be an instrument of hope to the nations. A voice crying out for peace, hope and love. A worshiper at heart, Naomi seeks to use her gift to uplift and inspire people. She has learned to trust God in the face of many personal struggles. She experienced God’s miracle healing and restoration power in her marriage, body, and finances. Naomi wants the world to know that they too can experience what it means to be Restored. Check out Naomi Ruth’s singles “It’s Love” and “Clap Your Hand” on all Digital Download platforms.
Darnese Yvette Olivieri was born and raised in New Jersey where her love for performing began. She got her start singing in the church choir as the daughter of a pastor. By the time she was in high school she was singing, dancing and acting in musicals every year. In her senior year she applied and got accepted into Howard University's coveted musical theatre program where she received training under the leadership of the late Al Freeman Jr. During her tenure at Howard she also joined one of the school's Community Choir where she once had the honor of singing a solo Negro spiritual for the late Bishop Desmond Tutu. Darnese left Howard University in her senior year and moved to New York with stars in her eyes and a dream of performing on Broadway. While she never actualized her dream she continued to sing in local church choirs and worship teams. She put her love for theatre and performing to use by teaching and developing young performers. Darnese has spent the last 15 years as a acting coach, drama teacher and creator of play production with non-profits, church's and schools. She has worked for the New York City Department of Education as an English and Drama teacher for the past 10 years. While she didn't quite make it on Broadway, her love and passion for performing lives on.
Mike Marks, a street kid from Brooklyn, first picked up the guitar in his early teens! Learning from mentors who went on to become world-class musicians, Mike finally broke through after 15 years with his band, Rockaway. His first album on a major label had him touring overseas with a hit record in Scandinavia. But stardom was not to be and he soon gave up Rock ‘nRoll on the road in favor of settling down to raise a family. Now, after 20 years his talent still remains and his desire is as strong as ever. So Mike is back, showing that he still has what it takes to be a star! He is currently playing with national players that share with stage with some of the top bands in the world and pursuing his love for music. Mike co-works with Drummer Rich Zukor in the Tri-State based band “Generations Rock n Roll”. (www.generationsrock.com/index.html)
Hailing from Valley Stream, New York, Rich has been a professional drummer for over 25 years. Since receiving a Master’s Degree from Manhattan School of Music in 1989, Rich has enjoyed a successful and varied career playing in almost every musical style with some of the world’s greatest musicians. That who’s who of musicians includes Janis Siegel (The Manhattan Transfer), Guitar virtuosos Tommy Emmanuel, Frank Vignola and Bucky Pizzarelli, Liza Minelli, Jane Monheit, Ska legends The New York Citizens and Dem Brooklyn Bums, amongst countless others. Rich is very active on the Long Island music scene, having played with Beatles tribute bands Strawberry Fields and Wonderous Stories. He is currently the drummer for Generations, and isthrilled to be pounding the skins with the Dr. G’s Voices for Veterans in Concert event.
Brian’s route to tonight’s concert includes practicing law for many years as a partner in the Corporate Law Department of the NYC law firm Graubard Miller, where he still practices. Ironically, Brian quit taking piano lessens when he was ten, after six months of practice, practice, practice! After playing in front of crowds of varying sizes he was “discovered” at the age of 48 at a gig with one of Dr. G’s bands. He and his beautiful wife, Marta, have two children, Shane and Giselle and he considers himself blessed. He is grateful to his parents for keeping the old upright around the house and teaching him his first blues scale, and his sister Jennifer for her continued support in his musical endeavors. He’s also appreciative that his old band, Old School, made sure he got out of the house to hone his skills in front of an audience rather than in the living room of his home. Brian is extremely proud to have been asked to be a part of an event honoring Long Island’s Veterans.
Bert Quinones was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and currently resides in Garden City Park, NY. Having received his Bachelor’s Degree from Long Island University, he went on to attain his Master’s Degree from Brooklyn College. Bert is a full time Physical Education and Swimming Teacher in the New York City Department of Education for 29 years. He’s been playing guitar most of his life and can finger the six string and twelve string guitars with the best of them! He also plays electric guitar. Although he likes most genres of music, he concentrates on playing Blue Grass, Country and Rock selections. Bert’s been playing in Dr. G’s bands for three years now and is very exciting about participating in this concert.
Tony Petito Brooklyn born and raised was introduced to music in my very early years. At the age of 12 I was already a drummer in the group called The Elgins. The group broke up when I was 17, my brother the guitar player was drafted during the Vietnam War. For over 30 years I was away from music until the late 90’s when I took piano lessons for 3 years to learn music theory. In 2001 I was fortunate to join the Acapella group called L5. Always influenced by the "Blues", we sang Motown and Rock and Roll for 8 years. This was a very special time for me. After three years of guitar lessons, playing harp and going to jams; in 2012 I started my own rock and roll group and it’s been a great ride coming back to music after so many years. To family and friends thank you. Peace & Love, Tony P.
Paul Tuthill has worked as a public and private school band director on Long Island since 1973. He currently resides in Garden City South, and is the band director at Washington Street School in Franklin Square. He’s been there since 1980, and he inspires his students to love the music and learn to play it. His school concerts are always a smash! Paul has played trumpet with many Long Island wedding and rock bands since the mid-seventies: Majestic Rag, Broadway, SC Function, Sweetback, the Soul Syndicate and Body Heat. Currently he is playing saxophones with the Cold Spring Harbor Band, a Billy Joel tribute group, and in tonight’s Voices for Veterans Band.
Lou Kouvaris started playing in junior high school and has been part of the music world in and around Long Island and the Metropolitan area ever since, making great sound wherever he appears. Playing guitar in the band “Prism” in the late 60’s, followed by “Smoke”, “Diamond” and “Faded Blue” in the early 70’s. He became the lead guitarist for “Riot” in 1975. A short time with “Satelite” in 1978 was followed by his formation of “Sweetalk”, which was produced by Richard Resnicoff. The group performed together until 1980. When “Sweetalk” ended their run, Lou formed “Special Forces”, which played until 1983. He’s also been a part of “The Hots”, “The Goodfellas” and played in Dr. G’s “Soul Doctor” band. Lou has recorded for the “Village People” as Studio Guitarist for Jacques Morali’s Can’t Stop Productions. He became Musical Director in 1985 on the movie “Hot Shot” with Pele, the famous soccer player, Mario Van Peebles and Jimmy Youngs (Footloose). He also received credits for writing several original songs for the production. He has also created four Original Musical Albums for Aerobic Instructors containing specific criteria for the fitness industry. Lou has toured with such great artists and groups as Journey, Neil Young, Alice Cooper, the Outlaws and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Barry Schwalb From musical theater to parade bands, rock shows to jazz gigs, Barry is a busy freelance musician and teacher. He lives on Long Island in Northport. He is currently a member of the Swingtime Big Band, the Long Island Sound of Swing Band, the Long Island Jazz Orchestra, the North Shore Pops Concert Band, the Northport Community Band and the South Shore Brass Ensemble. He has recently performed on productions for New York Roots Music Association (NYRMA), with the Band of Long Island, Plaza Productions “Young Frankenstein” and for Verdi’s opera “Rigoletto” this past summer with the North Shore Music Festival. Barry is excited to be working with Dr. G for this event honoring Long Island Veterans.
Ani Azoto, Bassist: Ani was born in NYC and raised in Port Washington on the North Shore of Long Island. Growing up on the sounds of everything from The Beatles and Mowtown to Louie Prima and Frank Sinatra thanks to the influence of his family, Ani began cutting his teeth at a very young age in the late 70’s Long Island club scene. He studied Music Education at SUNY New Paltz, NY and Performance at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, CA. Ani has lived in and toured all across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. He has shared the stage with a long list of artist including Bo Diddly, Elvin Bishop, INXS, Washboard Chaz, Doctor John, Marcia Ball, Chris Daniels and the Kings, David Bromberg, Mark Wood, and The Voices of Unity Gospel Choir, to name a few. Back in the NY area since the late 90’s, Ani has been working in a technical capacity as a staffer at NBC Studios in NYC and playing locally in the LI and NYC area.
Robert Goebel, “Dr. G” as he’s known in the music world, grew up in Williston Park, NY. His interest in music began as a child when he’d annoy his family by playing Elvis Presley records on the “Victrola”, until he wore the grooves down. He took music lessons for 3 months and learned several chords on the guitar. Dr. G graduated from chiropractic school in 1981 and began his career. He was married to Teresa Bouchard, also a chiropractor, in 1983, and their son Paul, who is playing on stage tonight with his Dad, was born in 1994. In 1989 Dr. G’s interest in music was piqued again by a friend in the rock industry. After meeting and adjusting several rock stars, Dr. G decided it was time to build on the rudimentary chords he learned as a young man and literally strike up a band. Soul Doctor” was his first band, playing rhythm and blues, followed by “Midnight Express”. He then joined up with an Allman Brothers tribute band called “Brother Peach”. His next project was to produce several one-night musical productions featuring 25-35 local musicians at each event. This idea became a big hit among the musicians. He also formed and plays with the Billy Joel tribute band “Cold Spring Harbor Band” and plays with “RPM and Friends”, an R & B band. About six years ago Dr. G was asked to form a band to play a night of music to raise money for veterans. That experience made him aware of the struggles our veterans face as they come home from war and try to return to civilian life. Since then he has performed many concerts on Long Island stages to benefit our American Veterans with his band “Samaritan”. This event is Dr. G’s fulfillment of a life-long dream of producing a show which combines a rock band with a choir. Relying on his leadership skills and musical sensibilities, he has produced tonight’s event: Dr. G’s Voices for Veterans in Concert.
Chris Belmont started his professional music career in 1996 as a member of Blessed Hope, a Christian/Gospel vocal group that earned the honor of being the first Christian/Gospel group to perform on BET’s 106 and Park. In 2003, Belmont transitioned to a full-time career in music production, eventually forming JahRock'n Productions in 2005. Since then, JahRock'n Productions has grown into a multifaceted media company, providing studio recording, mixing, and mastering services; music production services; and artist development services.
My introduction to the guitar at 12 years of age marked the beginning of an addiction which has consumed my life to date. Forty eight years of frustration and joy culminating to playing live, notably for our Veterans on October 22, 2016. My initial interests include the music and acoustic guitar styles of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to the Beatles. I contribute my love for the instrument as a result of playing my cousins Martin guitar and being taught finger style picking. The motivation to improve my craft is both in part due to personal motivation and the opportunity to play with Dr. G.