Former New York Yankees All Star Bernie Williams brought his guitar, not his bat, earlier this month to jam with young musicians at the Yorktown Teen Center's Open Mic Night.
Williams, who grew up in Puerto Rico and discovered his love for baseball and music there, played music with members of The Justin Veatch Fund All Stars on Oct. 5. The Yorktown musicians were rehearsing a few of the songs they had planned for a concert's opening act.
Williams hooked up his amp and jumped into a song being performed by Mark McIntyre (guitar), Phil Rosenstock (bass), Joey Cirone (keys) and John Venezia (drums). The song was written by McIntyre, a senior at Yorktown High School.
"It was an honor to play with Bernie," McIntyre said. "He was relaxed and open and played exactly what he needed to on songs he had never heard before."
Williams and his band will headline the concert sponsored by The Justin Veatch Fund on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at the White Plains Performing Arts Center. The concerted had to be moved from its scheduled venue, The Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill due to its recently announced closure.
"Having attended a performing arts high school in Puerto Rico, I was blessed to have music as a core part of my education," Williams said. "The Justin Veatch Fund is keeping the dreams alive for so many young, talented musicians like Justin."
Williams met with Helena Rodriguez, president of the Yorktown Teen Center which along with the Justin Veatch Fund co-sponsors the Open Mic. The Teen Center room was renovated last year through the efforts of fellow Yankee organization member Rick Cerrone, who headed up the Yankees public relations during Williams' tenure.
"Seeing and hearing Bernie improvising with our young performers was a real treat," Veatch said.
The Justin Veatch Fund will put young musicians on the big stage with a major headliner – Bernie Williams. Through its music workshops during the past three years The Fund has been connecting young talented local musicians with top professionals in the music business.
In his 16-year career patrolling center field for the New York Yankees, Williams was a four-time World Series Champion and a five-time All Star. He released his first album The Journey Within in 2003. That album reached number 3 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart. Williams’ sound features fusions of jazz, rock and the tropical rhythms of Williams’ Latin heritage. His second album, Moving Forward, featured guest appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Secada, Dave Koz and an all-star cast of renowned studio musicians
Since the White Plains Performing Arts Center ("WPPAC") is smaller venue that has just over 400 seats, there are only about 75 seats left that will go on sale Wednesday, Oct. 17 for the concert.
"It’s a beautiful state-of-the-art theater with stadium seating," Veatch said. "Despite this downsizing we’re excited about putting on an amazing show."
Tickets to the concert sold by the Paramount box office will be honored at the WPPAC.
The few remaining tickets for the Oct. 20 concert can be purchased from The White Plains Performing Arts Center box office at 11 City Place in White Plains, at (914) 328-1600 or online at their website.
The Justin Veatch Fund is a non-profit corporation founded following the death of 17-year-old Yorktown resident Justin Veatch from an accidental drug overdose in 2008. Veatch was a talented singer/songwriter/musician whose music is featured in the album Permagrin: The Music of Justin Veatch by The Ivoryton Piano Factory and Friends.
The Fund honors Justin’s legacy by awarding annual scholarships to talented graduating high school seniors and creating music programs to support talented young musical artists. Through its music workshops during the past three years The Fund has been connecting young talented area musicians with top professionals in the music business. Music luminaries like Sloan Wainwright, jazz guitarist Rory Stuart and violinist Daisy Jopling.
A new outreach of The Justin Veatch Fund touches at the core of the Veatch family’s tragedy. Jeffrey Veatch, Justin’s father, delivers “A Message from Justin,” a 40-minute multi-media program that showcases his son’s music while discussing dealing with adversity, what happened to Justin, and how young people can take better care of themselves and their friends.