Great Neck, NY — The Gold Coast Arts Center and Love Revolution Org’s 4th Annual Your Big Break talent competition heads into the finals April 2, after the semifinals pared the contestants down to three: Matt Grabowski, Jaclyn Manfredi and the Frankel Sisters.
While all of the semifinalists brought their extraordinary talents to the stage on March 12– including Taylor Hogan and Days Beneath Us, the judges (who include Neil Rubenstein, the manager of The Emporium music venue in Patchogue, Chris Pati of IndiMusic TV, Lou Plaia from Reverbnation.com, Guy Brogna from All Music Inc. and JerryLemo, a music industry consultant who has worked with Grammy Award-Winning entertainers) ultimately made their final eliminations to the latter half.
One of the rewards of making it into the finals means that the up-and-coming performers are paired with accomplished mentors who help them hone their performances. Jaclyn Manfredi will be mentored by singer/songwriter Ryan Star, the Frankel sisters will be mentored by John Hampson of Nine Days and Matt Grabowski is paired with songwriter/producer Ido Zmishlany.
The mentors will use their experience as chart-topping singer/songwriters and producers to help each of their mentees use all the tools necessary to craft a well-rounded, quality final performance! Only one will receive the ultimate privilege of being crowned the “Next Big Thing” to come out of New York, along with many other prizes to give a boost to a budding music career.
This year’s prizes include the chance to open up for a national act at The Emporium, recording time at IndiMusic Studios, a feature on Reverbnation.com, musical equipment from All Music Inc. and ZOOM North America, PR and social media campaigns from Rick Eberle Agency. Come down to the show and network with some of the best and brightest people in the music business because–along with the judges–the audience have a vote in determining this year’s winner.
At the semifinals performance:
Matt Grabowski, a 19-year old singer songwriter from Glen Cove. Is already a professional musician, performing at bars and restaurants. His style is folk and Indie Rock. He already has an EP out. He has a very natural, sweet sound, excellent guitar playing which enriches his original music. One of his crowd-pleasing compositions, “The Fiddler,” incorporates the image of a Fiddler on the Roof. (See TheBigGrabowski.org).
The Frankel Sisters (and Dad) performed a marvelous cover of an Adele song with a wonderful arrangement. Their performance features stunning harmony, precision (remind me a little of the Andrew Sisters) that was on view in their rendition of “It’s All About the Bass.” They also perform some utterly stunning original pieces including “Love Without a Chase,” a wonderful song with great lyrics that ends with the line, “Love without a chase is just plain wrong, and now it’s time to end this song.” Their Dad on guitar is incredible – amazing to get so much music out of a single instrument – and chimes in with harmony. They closed with an original song they dedicated to Rachel Scott, a victim of Columbine who kept a journal , “Change the World, spread kindness and love, and change the world.” It is hard to imagine their mentor improving on their already polished performance. (See them on youtube or at frankelsisters.com.)
Jaclyn Manfredi, just 16, is a student at St. Anthony HS of Smithtown, and has been singing since she was 7 years old. She has performed at the Apollo Theater. She has an exotic movie-star/model look (think Ingrid Bergman) and has a most engaging delivery of blues and scat.
Also performing in the semi finals: Taylor Hogan, a 17-year old singer songwriter who is a student at the Long Island High School of the Arts, Syosset (a school that is supported by Billy Joel). She has a lovely voice – country-ish sound. She’s been singing since the age of 3.
Days Beneath Us is a band since 2012, performing acoustic pop, originals and covers.
Headliners for the evening brought back Youth Be Told, a band which won the talent competition three years ago, joined by and singer Katie Zimmer, who won last year’s competition.
When I first saw Youth Be Told – the winners of the talent competition three years ago – they were just 13 and 14 years old, Now they are young men of 16 and 17 and astonishingly good – Lennon Ashton (yes, he’s named after John Lennon), plays electric guitar like Santana, a consummate musician. Both of them play keyboards as well as the guitar, to add extra richness to the piece, bass player Alexander Taub, and drummer, Rocco Giordano , who makes you forget Ringo Starr (he even twirls the sticks in the air, despite the furious pace he keeps). They are absolutely exciting to watch, totally engaging, their original songs are terrific, not to mention fresh faced and adorable.
After they won the Big Break competition three years ago, I said it was like seeing the very young Beatles, and indeed, they recorded an EP produced by Jack Douglass who was the producer for John Lennon, with “Golden Slumbers” a Beatles song that was part of the climactic medley on their 1969 album Abbey Road (see YouthBeToldBand.com).
The finals on April 2 will also feature a headlining performance by past finalist Zofolk.
The Arts Center is transformed into the Gold Coast Acoustic Café once a month, a music venue that showcases local up-and-coming talent as well as established music acts. With its black box theater performance space and a lounge in the art gallery, the Gold coast Acoustic Café is one of the few small music venues around which makes for a special and intimate atmosphere for artists and audience alike, especially during Your Big Break – a competition whose past winners include Youth Be Told and Katie Zimmer (who joined up in a headlining performance at the March 12 semifinals), round 2 headliner Annika, as well as finalists SEE and Zofolk who have gone on to work with major producers, managers and agents! Past artists who have performed in the headline slots have included: Iridesense, John Hampson of Nine Days, The Brady Brothers, and Sir Cadian Rhythm – all of whom are local musicians who’ve had major success in the industry, with hopes to further inspire the next generation of New York stars presented each year.
The Gold Coast Arts Center and Love Revolution Org’s 4th Annual “Your Big Break” Finals take place at the Gold Coast Acoustic Cafe, 113 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, NY, on Saturday, April 2 (doors open 7:30pm; Show starts 8:00pm; tickets: $10 students/$15 adults). Call 516-829-2570 or visit www.greatneckarts.org.
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