Nearly three dozen of Long Island’s top musicians and songwriters will take to the stage at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow to perform the music of Harry Chapin, the late Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and social activist, on Monday night, July 12 at 8 p.m. The concert will also be streamed on the ‘Just Wild About Harry” (The Harry Chapin Tribute Show) Facebook page and available for later viewing.
The “Just Wild About Harry” tribute concert will feature 16 acts — including concert organizer Stuart Markus and his trio Gathering Time — performing such Chapin classics as “Taxi” and “Cat’s in the Cradle” plus lesser hits and fan favorites like “WOLD” and “Story of a Life.” The concert is free, but concertgoers are asked to bring donations of nonperishable food to support Long Island Cares, Inc., the regional food bank founded by Chapin in 1980.
This year’s concert will be a special one since that week will mark the 40th anniversary of Chapin’s tragic death on the Long Island Expressway in 1981 — on the day that he was supposed to perform on that very stage since renamed for him. Several tribute show regulars were among the crowd in 1981 when what was supposed to be a joyous event turned into a vigil, Markus said.
“Harry is still so lovingly regarded in Long Island songwriter circles, both for his songwriting and anti-hunger activism,” Markus said. “Each year, the community comes together to, in effect, present the concert that he might have given, each putting their own interpretation on his songs. We’ve had some amazing arrangements, from folky to country, torch-song style to hard rock.”
The concert will also be a benefit for Long Island Cares, the Harry Chapin Food Bank. “The annual Harry Chapin tribute concert in Eisenhower Park is always a very special event for all of us at Long Island Cares because so many of Harry’s fans attend and are extremely supportive of Long Island Cares and the work we do to assist the more than 316,000 Long Islanders struggling with domestic hunger and high food insecurity,” said Paule Pachter, the nonprofit organization’s chief executive officer.
The concert will be co-promoted by the Folk Music Society of Huntington, of which Markus is a board member. This year’s show will be the 16th at the park and the 18th overall. Last year’s tribute streamed online only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Besides Markus and Gathering Time, this year’s roster of performers includes newcomers ThemAgain, Roger Street Friedman, and Richard Parr, along with returning performers Patricia Shih, Robinson Treacher, Debra Lynne, Media Crime, Ed Ryan, Sid Cherry & Helen Schrier Pandal, Toby Tobias, Mike Barry, Folk Goddesses, Robin Greenstein, and Christine Solimeno, plus assorted side musicians.
The concert will be held rain or shine, precluded only by thunderstorms. For more information, visit https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/1767/Parks-Recreation-Museums.