A Live-Streamed Concert with a Cause


 It’s a tradition. And the tradition rolls on, even if it’s virtual. With Memorial Day being the official kickoff to summer, Rockaway’s very own, Wine With Sue, has played at The Low Tide Bar at the 97th Concessions since it opened. No matter what the weather was, locals have always packed the boardwalk to celebrate and have a great time with John Burke, John Fabry, Mike Schmitt, and Don Sautner, or better known as Wine With Sue. However, due to the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders, it was clear this concert would not be able to take place in person, but that didn’t stop them.

Inspired by the Coronavirus Virtual Bar Facebook Group, Wine With Sue decided to work out the logistics so all four of them could play together on a live streamed event. Despite several obstacles, including finding a place they would be able to set up and play, as well as not attracting a crowd, members of the band were determined to make it work.

Thanks to the Belle Harbor Yacht Club, they were able to play and host the event in the Members Only Lounge, just the four of them. “It’s a challenge to create that live energy in that way, but we had fun with it after all was said and done,” lead singer John Burke said.

 The Facebook live-streamed concert, which took place on Friday, May 22, proved to be a complete success, with more than 14,000 views, 1,100 comments, and 172 shares. With the help of all the wives of Wine With Sue band members, they were able to monitor the comments, and keep the band updated if things weren’t going smoothly on all platforms. And although Rockaway locals weren’t able to show their support in person, members of the community made up for it through their kind comments and undeniable generosity. Besides providing entertainment to start Memorial Day weekend, the concert served as a fundraiser to help lift the community through the coronavirus crisis. Viewers were provided with a Venmo account where they could send donations during and after the charitable concert. And in true Rockaway fashion, locals stepped up. The Facebook Live Show raised a total of $2,800.

Upon seeing the event’s success, Wine With Sue reached out to St. John’s Hospital employee, Dawn McCarthy, who told them that the staff at nursing and rehabilitation centers were being forgotten as part of our local heroes on the frontlines. So, with the help of Elizabeth Hanna of RBNY: Rockaway Businesses Need You, and Eileen Savelli, they decided to donate all proceeds to Promenade Nursing Home and Queens Nassau Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. But, as Burke said, “Liz Hanna was the driving force to spread some cheer at the nursing facilities.”

Hanna contacted local businesses, asking if they would like to donate to the cause, and to no surprise, many of Rockaway’s local businesses stepped up to the plate. They were able to receive additional donations from 2TWINSprinting.com, Ro­ckaway Farmers Market, Fat Cardinal Bakery, Beach Bagels, Mazzone Ace Hardware, Belle Harbor Cards, Polly & Esther Boutique, Margie Homesy Daly and Stop and Shop.

On Monday, June 1, all donations and proceeds were delivered to both nursing homes. An employee from Promenade Nursing Home said, “Can’t express in words how touched and special the Promenade staff felt today! The recognition alone was awesome, but the food and goodies too! Please know, Wine With Sue’s fundraising efforts were deeply appreciated!! Thank you to all you have done.”

But, at the end of the day, all Wine With Sue wanted to do was spread some cheer to fans and frontline heroes. “During these dark days, it was incredibly rewarding to put some smiles on our local heroes today. The workers were very emotional and thankful,” Wine With Sue wrote on their Facebook page. Recognizing that this all became possible with the help of Rockaway locals all coming together, Wine With Sue posted words of encouragement and gratitude: “Thank you to all who donated to this worthy cause,” the band posted. “Seeing the staff with such diversity, helping these patients of all colors and walks of life, also gave us all a glimmer of hope that our country can and will heal. Stay safe and be kind. Brighter days ahead.”