2013-07-03 / Front Page

Astoria Music & Arts Brings Make Music NY To Astoria

By Cristina Guarino

On June 21, Astoria’s Athens Square Park and Athens Triangle, the crosswalk connecting Newtown Avenue and 30th Avenue, hosted this year’s Make Music New York.Photo Cristina GuarinoOn June 21, Astoria’s Athens Square Park and Athens Triangle, the crosswalk connecting Newtown Avenue and 30th Avenue, hosted this year’s Make Music New York.Photo Cristina GuarinoOn June 21, Astoria’s Athens Square Park and Athens Triangle, the crosswalk connecting Newtown Avenue and 30th Avenue, were host to this year’s Make Music New York (MMNY), a citywide, live, outdoor music festival that takes place in more than a thousand locations throughout the city. This year marked the festival’s seventh year at the Athens Triangle, hosted by Astoria Music & Arts, the nonprofit organization responsible for turning the Athens Triangle into a venue of its own.
The event showcased a number of talented Astoria bands, including Beecher’s Fault and Illimanjaro. Residents flocked from around Astoria with folding chairs, picnic blankets and family to enjoy the festivities. Young children played and danced in groups to the music.
Astoria Music & Arts’ cofounder Justin Finley met Make Music New York’s founder Aaron Friedman in 2007, when he took on the job of MMNY’s Regional Manager. The title allowed him to access the database of performers which, in conjunction with the newly-formed Astoria Music & Arts’(AM&A) unique talent, gave him the opportunity to plan Astoria’s section of Make Music NY.
“As regional manager, I was able to reach out to bands that applied regionally, specifically based on zip code,” Finley said. “It was around that time that AM&A was formed, so it really was a perfect introduction to local acts. AM&A, which basically consisted of my brother and I at the time, was responsible for close to 14 locations spanning four zip codes. It was completely insane.”
Since then, both MMNY and AM&A have grown exponentially. Their collaboration in Astoria brings more than 100 guests on Facebook and countless others to the stages. “From 2009 to 2013 [the festival] has been exclusively at the [Athens Triangle] block party and Athens Square Park with a much larger crew at the helm,” said Finley. “I like the idea of having multiple stages so close together; it really has that festival vibe.”
AM&A hosts a number of other events throughout Astoria, such as the annual Astoria Music Now! festival in the summer and numerous local live shows. The festival and all its local talent are the pride of the organization and the reason for its founding:  “to nurture and promote bands from the area”. According to Finley, “The festival experience is very unique. With that variety, you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen by the end of the day.”

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