The Vendettas Bring Family Friendly Rock and Roll to Bay Street Theater
Publication: The Sag Harbor Express
Posted online 15 December 2014
In print 18 December 2014
By Gianna Volpe
For four years, local Long Island musicians playing together as rockabilly cover band, The Vendettas, have performed a family-friendly holiday spectacular at Bay Street Theater, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 21 this year.
The $15 show features a host of holiday music spanning generations, including some lesser played tracks like “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa,” according to the 49-year-old guitarist of The Vendettas and creator of the Rock and Roll Holiday Spectacular at Bay Street, Jay Janoski.
“All the Vendettas shows are really family-friendly because we attract a lot of different ages,” Mr. Janoski said of the group’s fan base. “The music we play is 60 years old but it’s still rock and roll, so it’s got a punk energy to it because that music scared parents in the same way. When you think about guys like Elvis and Eddie Cochran – and especially guys like James Vincent – their music was very dangerous and raw because at the time nobody was doing what they did. So when younger people see our show they can tap into the raw energy that that kind of music has and for older people, it really just brings them back to their high school days. We have such a great time playing, especially when that vibe gets to the audience and goes back and forth, so we’re all really looking forward to it.”
This year female vocalist Erin Doherty will join the Vendettas line-up for the Rock and Roll Holiday Spectacular after she was first introduced to the band at Bay Street’s Philippines typhoon relief fundraiser last November.
“She’s been playing with us going on a year now,” said Mr. Janoski. “She widens the range of material we can do, but she does Elvis songs as well, so that’s really cool.”
In fact, Mr. Janoski said the Vendetta’s holiday spectacular was itself borne from the band’s annual January concert to celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday.
“It always struck me that we should be doing Christmas songs because of it being so wintery out, so I said we should put together a rock and roll Christmas show since there’s certainly an abundance of material, especially from that 50s and early 60s era,” he said. “We wanted to make it a little more special than the trio, so we added a piano player and horns.”
The band’s line-up changes each year based on who is able to make it for the show and this year, The Vendettas will include keyboardist Mike Ryan, vocalist Erin Doherty, horns section members Bob Hobey, David Elliot and James Micelli, as well as the core members of The Vendettas guitarist Jay Janoski, bassist Dave Doscher and drummer Lenny Brentson.
The show will be an hour-and-a-half long, though Mr. Janoski said the band has prepared additional material should they be allowed to exceed the time limit.
For Mr. Janoski, being part of a rockabilly group is something he’d “been gravitating toward” since 1980 when he saw The Stray Cats play in the gym of his Shoreham/Wading middle school as a youngster.
“It was right before they went to England to make their first album, so at the time they were still Brian Setzer & The Tom Cats, but it was just so powerful,” recalled Mr. Janoski. “Here were three guys that really weren’t that much older than us – maybe just out of high school – and they had such a full, loud sound. We hadn’t really ever seen something like that at the time. My parents were big music fans – my mom listened to a lot of R&B and soul and my dad was a rock and roll guy whose favorite was Buddy Holly – so I did have a frame of reference for it, but here was a guy playing one drum and one cymbal with this amazing, full, energetic sound; it was just a pivotal point in my life.”
The Vendettas Rock and Roll Holidays Spectacular will be held on Sunday, December 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Visit baystreet.org or call the box office at (631) 725-9500.