THE ARTS: Ladies and Gentlemen, Once Again – My Father’s Place

DOUGLAS FINLAY

The horn-driven funk band Tower of Power was the last group to perform on stage when the iconic Long Island music club My Father’s Place in Old Roslyn finally closed its doors in May 1987. Handfuls of famous musical artists such as The Police, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Leo Kottke, Larry Coryell, James Cotton Blues Band, The Ramones, Blondie, Joan Jett, Tom Petty, Link Wray, The Good Rats and others had played or gotten their start in the famous room.

DebbieHarryDebbie Harry as Blondie got face time at My Father’s Place

Several events led to its closing, including the perennial problem of parking for over 200-and-more fans who filed into the tightly situated club under the Route 25A overpass, and the music scene rapidly evolved from small venues in favor of large arenas.

But for founder Michael “Eppy” Epstein the notion of one day opening a second incarnation of My Father’s Place was never far from his thoughts – it’s in his DNA. “I have always been offered new places to reopen My Father’s Place” he told Your NewsMag when it recently visited ground zero of the newly planned MFP, again in Roslyn. “But it would never have felt the same,” he continued. “It had to be in Roslyn for it to work again.”

Enter Lawrence Ross, a Realtor with High Cap Group in Roslyn who brokered the sale of the Roslyn Hotel within the last year to new owners.  Ross, along with many others, had known for years of Eppy’s interest in reopening MFP. So, when walking through the boutique hotel at 1221 Roslyn Road with new owner Sumar Kakar, Ross came upon a small banquet room he felt had an extraordinary charm about it. Kakar was asking Ross what might be done with the room.

“My vision was this would be a perfect place to resurrect My Father’s Place,” Ross remarked.

VISION REALIZED

On Sunday, June 30, My Father’s Place Supper Club will open its doors once more in Roslyn, out of that remodeled banquet room.  “Livingston Taylor is almost sold out” for opening night, Eppy announced. My Father’s Place Speakeasy and Restaurant will also open its doors across the foyer from the supper club, and will provide more elaborate settings and dining for what management hopes will include a more refined – if not elite – musical clientele.

Parking will be plentiful, as patrons will enter the club and speakeasy from a parking lot.

Kakar thinks the rebirth of My Father’s Place will be a positive influence on the town and on the hotel. “My Father’s Place will be a tremendous new gathering place for all musicians and those in the industry once again.”

The refined name of “supper club” may come off as a misnomer. There are no stylized waiters and waitresses dressed in black jackets with linens  draped over their arms taking orders for food and drink. But orders for food and drink will be part-and-parcel of the resurrected MFP, just like the original room. “There will be no bar, however,” remarked Bellmore resident Dan Kellechan, who will be general manager of MFP Supper Club, along with Alex Ewen, former CEO of SiriusXM radio’s Little Steven’s Garage channel.

Kellachan walked Your NewsMag through the ballroom to explain the new floor plan.

There will be a 10-foot by 20-foot stage against the western wall, with a door into a kitchen area behind it. Waiters and waitresses will come and go through the door with foods and drinks. “In front of the stage will be plush seating, such as couches or swivel chairs with cushions,” Kellechan said. He said the chairs will remain low to provide viewing for the next tier of seats:  several rows of long tables and chairs for dining or placing bottles of wine or drinks , farther back from the stage. These long tables and seats will be located precisely in the middle of the room, as patrons walk in.

“Toward the back will be bar stools all along the width of the room,” Kellachan continued. Tall floor tables – or counters attached to the walls – will provide for placements of drinks or foods.  Patrons sitting in these chairs will be able to see the stage over those sitting at tables and those sitting in chairs at the front of the stage.

BJCould Billy Joel play again .. with the Hassles?

Kellachan says he hopes the new club can reinvigorate Long Island’s huge musical fan base by presenting themes from former musical eras, such as an “Action House” evening that would present bands that got their start at the famed Action House rock club in Island Park: Leslie West, Vanilla Fudge, the Rascals?

SHIFTING MUSIC SCENES

Eppy knows well of the ground continually shifting under the music scene:  the demise of the Fillmore East in favor of Madison Square Garden; videos replacing radio; understanding Neil Young’s sudden “rebuff” of Melanie from appearing on stage with him in the ‘00s. Although both were ‘60s musical children who once played on the same stage, Eppy said the music industry had fragmented into literally dozens of genres, each requiring its own venues and avenues (SiriusXM) to promote. Rock is one avenue, folk and easy-listening others.

He said that in 1981, when he left the club to go down south to work on another start up, he gave the controls of My Father’s Place over to manager Tim O’Connell, telling him, “Don’t bring in any name entertainers, because you’ll lose” to the record companies, who had managed to gain control of where their contracted bands would play for the largest revenue.

“I tried closing the club a few times back in the ‘80s,” he said, because it became hard to “buy” talent. Smaller clubs were no longer in vogue, he maintained.

Still, he persisted during the ‘80s, setting up live broadcasts with bands that were getting constant airplay in WLIR FM 92.7. “Rock,” counter to what Roger Daltrey once wailed, was not “dead,” but was evolving with new music bands such as Duran Duran and The Cure. Live broadcasts allowed My Father’s Place to remain open as a viable music club as long as it did, well into the 1980s.

Peter Hedeman, technical director of the new MFP who will build the stage, was with the club in the early days when it began broadcasting live bands played on WLIR –FM.  “I ran the truck for ‘LIR, and we recorded over 200 shows ‘LIR broadcast over the radio,” he said. The recordings can be found at http://sugarmegs.org.

Hedeman said the video streaming would begin again on June 30, opening night, when Livingston Taylor takes the stage.

Like the original My Father’s Place, Eppy keeps a promise to promote several genres of music. For jazz lovers, he has the incomparable jazz pianist McCoy Tyner and contemporary jazz guitarist Pat Metheny booked.

He speaks of booking the Reverend Horton Heat, rockabilly/alternate rockers from Texas stirring up a storm across the country.  He believes he can still get traction to “buy” such talent to play in a small club in the face of promoters such as Live Nation, which can determine where popular artists perform.

There is also mention of bringing Third World to the MFP stage, one of the world’s top reggae bands.

But Eppy calls these bands “the staples,” the well-known names he will bring to the club in order to get revelers into the place. He says he also manages three local bands, books for The Lighthouse in Glen Cove and is working full time to bring new Long Island talent to the stage. The hope is nurture them and help get them name recognition, which could further them up the ladder to other Long Island venues, such as the Paramount in Huntington – or clubs in New York City.

Eppy’s long range intention is to bring radio station 92.7 FM into the hotel and promote it as a viable concert station to broadcast live from My Father’s Place Supper Club, like the first My Father’s Place did. “Back then, we wired My Father’s Place with broadcast-quality equipment that allowed the new music bands of the 1980s to get play over the airwaves, bands WLIR FM had begun promoting rather than the older rock band scene.”

Dennis MacNamara, WLIR FM’s station manager for decades, was said to be hosting a monthly new wave show.

Eppy also has booked comedians Rob Bartlett and Sandra Bernhardt, as he attempts to create a new stage once more for Long Island comics –and those up-and-coming. While comedy clubs such as East Side Comedy, Chuckles, Jimmy’s, Governors, The White House and The Brokerage were breaking new ground for comics on Long Island,  My Father’s Place was also part of the burgeoning comic scene on Monday nights in the late ‘70s, calling itself Long Island Ha Ha.

Upcoming shows include Livingston Taylor on Saturday, June 30, at 8 p.m.; Roomful of Blues, July 1, at 7 p.m.; Blue Velvo, Tuesday, July 3, at 8 p.m.; High Fascination, July 5, at 8 p.m.; Robert Gordon, Saturday, July 7, at 8 p.m.; John Hammond,  Friday, July 13, a 8 p.m.; Garland Jeffreys, July 13, a 8 p.m. ; Spyro Gyra, Saturday, July 21, at 8 p.m.; NRBQ, Friday, July 27, a 8 p.m.; McCoy Tyner, Friday, August 3, at 8 p.m,; and Barnaby Bye, Saturday, August 4, at 8 p.m.

For tickets and more information, visit www.myfathersplace.com.

Leave A Reply