Musicians who have performed with the likes of Living Colour, Billy Joel, Black Sabbath, Meat Loaf and Rainbow descended on Katie’s of Smithtown to lend the popular tavern a helping hand.
Regarded as one of the island’s leading rock bars, Katie’s served up top-shelf jams on the weekend of April 2 and 3 to save a huge part of its business: the Mac Daddy Food Truck.
In 2017, pub owner Brian Karppinen headed west to purchase a food truck, which became a crucial revenue stream, especially during the pandemic. In November, the Mac Daddy Food Truck, known for its decadent mac-n-cheese loaded waffle cone, was destroyed in a fire.
To purchase a replacement, Karppinen launched a GoFundMe, which has since raised just north of $10,000. He also hosted a fundraiser show with local artists on Feb 19.
At this month’s fundraiser, locals and heavy-hitters alike hit the stage to help Karppinen. The two-day event attracted hundreds and raised about $15,000.
“People were very generous,” Karppinen said of his patrons and the musicians. “Can you imagine, Michael DelGuidice, the guy that plays with Billy Joel all the time just walks in to help me? That just shows how tight these guys are, how much they care.”
‘The vibe is good’
Masked local legends O El Amor kicked off the event Saturday night, followed by burgeoning teen rock star Mickey Lyxx, with special guests Mark DiCarlo of Fuzz Bubble and Amy Vivinetto of Stereomatic.
Bobby Rondinelli, who performed with Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Blue Oyster Cult, joined his brother Teddy Rondinelli, a former guitarist of Vanilla Fudge, and Virgin Steele bassist Rob DeMartino to blast through classic rock hits.
“I’ve known Brian 25 years, I’ve been probably playing here 15,” Bobby Rondinelli said. “When I’m not on tour, on Tuesday nights I’m here. I love the vibe here and the sound. It’s a good place for rock.”
After the trio’s set, Will Calhoun, the drummer for the Grammy Award-winning hard rock band Living Colour, took over the skins behind DeMartino and Teddy Rondinelli.
“When the vibe is good, the vibe is good,” Calhoun said. “And actually, here the vibe is great.”
For the next generation
Calhoun, who performs with the Afri-Garifuna Music Ambassadors, a New York Philharmonic children’s program that merges classical and indigenous music and culture, views Katie’s as fertile ground for fostering community, especially for young people.
“I grew up in the Bronx in a community like this, with bars, community centers, basketball teams, baseball teams, bowling teams, karate, after school programs, all of those things,” Calhoun said. “I know how important it was for me growing up to have that in my community. Out here, it just reminds me of that same time, and I think my community became very strong from everybody investing in everybody’s vibe.”
Many other musicians turned out to help Katie’s to ensure burgeoning rockers have a joint to show their stuff.
“This is where we cut our teeth,” Mike DelGuidice, known for performing live with Billy Joel and covering the Piano Man’s hits with the group Big Shot. “These are the places I grew up playing, these are the places I’ll play till I die. A lot of talent has come from Long Island and it’s because of places like this that we learned how to play in front of audiences.”
“This is the step to [Nassau] Coliseum,” John Miceli, best known as the drummer for Meat Loaf’s backing band, the Neverland Express and playing on My Chemical Romance’s “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys,” said.
“If we close this down, where are we going to build the rock stars that are going to play the Coliseum?” Micelli added.
For those who couldn’t make it
Bobby Rondinelli invited Calhoun to Katie’s Tuesday evening jams as pandemic restrictions waned. Anyone who could not attend the fundraiser can catch both legendary drummers at Katie’s on most Tuesday nights.
Calhoun said he felt grateful to head back into the studio with Living Colour. He confirmed the group is recording a follow-up to 2017’s “Shade,” which he said fans can expect to drop in the fall or early 2023.
“We’re a band with a message, so it’s going to be very important to talk about real things in our next recording that are affecting us,” Calhoun said. “We have wars, we have very… unique politicians abroad and domestic, polices changing, situations with gender, education, taking books out of schools now, taking books out of libraries.
“Take your pick, there’s a litany of things you can choose from, and yes, we’re going to talk about that because all of those things affected us and still do,” he added.
GreaterSmithtown attended both nights of the fundraiser to photograph those rocking for a good cause. Please scroll through and click the numbered boxes to view all the pics. Be sure to click on the numbered boxes to view them all.