Classic pop acts to play Astoria Park

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Borough residents will have five more opportunities to listen to classic pop tunes at Astoria Park after Monday’s kickoff of a concert series that drew thousands of people to the western Queens waterfront.

Central Astoria Local Development Coalition’s Waterfront Concert Series 2009 will feature a variety of performances from popular 1960s musical acts. The series, which is in its 27th year, began Monday on Astoria Park’s lawn, where an estimated 20,000 attendees watched fireworks and listened to Joe Battaglia and the New York Big Band.

Marie Torniali, executive director of the coalition, said the free concert series will provide entertainment to borough residents during the economic downturn.

“This is the greatest annual community event in Queens,” she said. “The crowd at [Monday’s] show was unbelievable. There was no room on the shore or in the park.”

The next performance will take place July 9, when Gary U.S. Bonds plays R&B tunes from his prolific and long-spanning career. His 1961 hit “Quarter to Three” was mentioned on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 songs that shaped the genre.

On July 16, the park will host “Come Together: A Tribute to the Beatles,” featuring performances of the legendary British band’s music. Joey Dee and the Starliters will play July 23 at the park. The group, a New Jersey-based pop act from the 1960s, scored a hit in 1961 with “Peppermint Twist.”

On July 30, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, a popular band from the 1960s, will play their hits, including “Simon Says,” “1, 2, 3 Red Light” and “Indian Giver.” The final show in the series will take place Aug. 6, when Charlie Thomas Drifters perform hits from the long-running 1960s doo-wop and R&B act The Drifters. Thomas, one of the members of the Drifters, split off from the group to form his own band, which performs some of the original group’s hits, including “Under the Boardwalk.”

Each concert is free and begins at 7:30 p.m. Attendees will be able to purchase food from vendors. The performances have no rain dates and will take place regardless of the weather.

In mid-July, the coalition will begin its annual summer waterfront movie series, although specific dates and times have yet to be decided. This year’s selection will include the juggernaut “The Dark Knight,” animated film “Surf’s Up” and popular musical “Grease.” All screenings, which begin when the sun goes down Monday evenings, are free.

“Free events are very important this year,” Torniali said. “If you have a family, how can you afford to take them all outi So, the movie nights draw a lot of families. It’s great for them to be able to spend time in the open air, watching movies on the big screen.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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