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LI Grammy winner Andy Falco reopens Blue Point Brewpub’s stage

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Andy Falco of the Grammy-award winning Bluegrass group, The Infamous Stringdusters, played at jam-packed Blue Point Brewpub Thursday evening.

More than 200 people witnessed the Long Island native debut material from his upcoming solo album, “The Will of The Way.”

The album, due out July 16 via Americana Vibes, is Falco’s first solo outing since joining The Infamous Stringdusters, who’s “Laws of Gravity” won the Grammy for Best Bluegrass album in 2018.

“When I was in quarantine and writing a lot, I really was sort of looking inward,” Falco, 48, of Sayville, said when asked about the new album. “When I started writing songs, I started asking myself why I’m writing the songs in the first place. And so I ended up gravitating towards songs that really meant a lot to me that I could really connect with. Sometimes you write a song and it’s a story, but these songs are really personal.”

Falco was one of the last performers to grace the brewpub’s stage prior to the pandemic. He, along with Pete Mancini and Amy Helm played the brewery in Feb 2020.

His performance Thursday evening marked the return of live music’s return at the brewery.

“The crowd was so into it, and the energy was just electric,” said Blue Point Brewery spokesperson Shelby Poole, who was in attendance. “That’s what a whole lot of gratitude for the return of live music looks like I guess. It felt like a homecoming.”

Poole said The Falco Brother’s, Andy, Patrick and Tom, are the next ticketed event slated for the brewpub. Tickets for the Thursday, Aug. 12, show are available for purchase through eventbrite.

There will be several live performances at the brewery throughout the month of July, but they are not ticketed events. Interested live music fans attend the many free, first come first serve performances by local acts like Cassandra House, Dave March and Soundswell.

Hitting the sage

Thursday evening was the second time Falco has hit the stage since the COVID-19 pandemic shut the spotlights of the world’s stages. The first was Wednesday evening in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and he said the return to performing live was “familiar but foreign.”

“Now the floodgates are open and it’s amazing,” Falco said after Thursday’s concert. “It’s such a different thing to get out playing with other musicians with people in the room. There’s a reciprocated energy that you just can’t duplicate any other way. You can only have the real thing, and when you get it, you’re kinda floating above yourself about four feet, and it’s just a beautiful thing. And people are just so psyched. There’s such an energy from people.”

Falco and his five piece band played two sets: an hour long 10 song set and a 12 track hour-and-a-half set, both of which featured his solo material, Infamous Stringdusters tracks and assorted covers.

He was accompanied by vocalist Cassandra House, drummer Dave Butler, guitarist and cellist Jonathan Preddice, his brother Patrick on upright bass and bass guitar and Damian Calcagne on keys.

Falco said most of those who share the stage with him Thursday appear on his upcoming record. “They’re all busy musicians but fortunately everybody was able to make these shows,” he said. “And I’m so happy to play with everybody because they’re all people I love dearly and love them as artists, so here we are doing shows.”

The first set boasted the first single off his forthcoming solo album, “Stones Unturned,” a cover of Phish’s “Possum,” and a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey.” The second featured the second single from “The Will of The Way,” “The Edge.”

Falco’s brother and his “greatest influence,” Reverend Tom Falco, joined the band onstage during the second half for a pair of covers: a rendition of the Henry Roland Byrd standard, “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” and the Grateful Dead’s “They Love Each Other.” The brother’s shared the stage once again for the shows closer, the Monroe Brother’s “Long Journey Home,” as well as an encore of the Grateful Dead’s “US Blues.”

Throughout the evening, Falco’s several-minutes-long guitar solos on his brightly-toned blond Telecaster and twangy natural wood acoustic captivated the audience and never failed to elicit applause.

The audience’s energy reached a visible peak during the bands rendition of Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street,” when the half of the audience that was not seated took to the isles between tables to dance, which continued for the remainder of Falco’s performance.

Hometown following

Falco grew up in Garden City and currently resides in Sayville. With his Long Island roots, it’s not surprising many concert attendees said they have been following Falco and his various projects for decades.

“I’ve been following him since he was a teenager,” said Frank Rizzo, a self-proclaimed fan of all Long Island music who attended Falco’s show.

Rizzo, 63, of Farmingville, said he admires Falco because as a singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer, he collaborates with many other local artists “He’s great because he helps and cares for everybody around here,” Falco’s fan said. “He’s produced a lot of local musicians’ albums.”

Travis McKeveny is one such Long Island musician who has worked with Falco. He cowrote two of the songs that will appear on “The Will of The Way,” “The Edge” and “The Proof is in the Pudding,” both of which were part of Thursday evenings setlist.

“I collaborated with him when I was living in Brooklyn, which was abysmal,” McKeveny, 34, of Blue Point, said. “Andy would send me snippets of stuff and we would have to do stuff remotely. It was definitely a bright spot for me last year.”

Sitting near the back of the brewpub during the show was retired Garden City science teacher Charlie Cuzzo. He said he taught Falco geology when the musician was 14 attending Garden City High School. “He didn’t like teachers,” Cuzzo, 67, of Garden City, said of the performer. “But we talked about music, so he thought I was okay.”

Although he saw his geology student perform at school events and felt he was talented, Cuzzo said he voiced concerns to the young Falco when he expressed his desire to drop out of college and pursue music. “I said ‘its very hard,'” Cuzzo said. “But Andy said ‘I got it, don’t worry about it.'”

Audience member John McRae, who danced just in front of stage left much of the evening, said he recalls discovering Falco during the days of one of his earliest projects, the Water Street Blues Band, who he described as “probably my favorite bar band ever,” around 20 years ago.

McRae, 56, of Stony Brook, said he has attended every one of the Long Island musician’s shows he possibly could throughout the years. In addition to the Water Street Blues Band, he has seen Falco with the Infamous Stringdusters, the Falco Brothers and now Falco solo. “I’m proud to know where he comes from.”