Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) Opens to Fantastic Fanfare

What do Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Mariah Carey and Perry Como all have in common? 

Well, their images and associated memorabilia are all currently on display at the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF), which opened in November of 2022, at the Stony Brook Village Center in Suffolk County.

One hundred and twenty inductees finally have a place to call home. The hall’s selection committee began cherry picking candidates in 2006, adding a handful of artists and institutions every other year. Ernie Canadeo, who when not presiding over one of the Island’s high profile advertising agencies, is chairman of the LIMEHOF. He’s a music aficionado, who in his early twenties was selling records, and later moved into the business of promoting artists for a major recording label. As a life-long resident of the Island, he’s more than impressed with the breadth and width of the inductees. “I’m of the belief that there is no other area in the world that has the type of music and entertainment talent that Long Island has,” said Canadeo.

After years of gaining public support, and developing outreach through collaborative concerts with inductees, scholarships for music students, and recognition of outstanding music educators, the new building is the culmination of their efforts.  

As what can only be described as musical Kismet, the 8,800 square foot building’s footprint sits atop a musical proving ground. Over seventy-five years ago, an amphitheater was created on the exact spot as a home for accessible outdoor concerts. Beginning in 1955 and continuing for 15 years, the Stony Brook Musical festival welcomed Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Tony Bennet and Pete Seeger among others, to this quaint colonial village. 

Stony Brook was in large measure put on the map by the benevolence of the Melville family.  The Melvilles were Brooklynites who took a summertime fancy to the north shore of Long Island, and its close proximity to the sound. Frank Melville was a businessman who turned his good fortune into altruism by preserving historical homes and buildings in the 250 year-old village, and razing structures that crumbled under the Great Depression. Ward Melville continued his father’s work and established a business district in the community by constructing the Stony Brook Village Center in 1941, considered to be the first pre-designed shopping center in the country.

Ward Melville died in 1977 but left behind an organization committed to protecting historical properties and environmentally sensitive lands that it had amassed for nearly 40 years. The Ward Melville Heritage Organization became the steward for a handful of locales, including a building sitting just behind the village complex. 

The Educational and Cultural center had played host to a number of community-based activities throughout the year, but once the WHMO president, Gloria Rocchio, heard of the hall’s plight, she called Ernie Canadeo and invited him to take a look. He liked what he saw and loved the long-term lease of a dollar a year. It was one not-for-profit institution fulfilling the dreams of another.

Now that the hall’s quest for a home has become fulfilled, it has papered its walls with photos and descriptions of its inductees, along with cultural collages of the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. A wall of monitors captures musical performances from past inductions. There are two pieces of memorabilia anchored to the exhibit that just stand out: a Harley Davidson motorcycle donated by Billy Joel, and Joan Jett’s 1983 Jaguar parked in front of the Malibu shore club. The mockup of the Lido Beach song and dance club is part of LIMEHOF’s first semi-annual exhibit: Long Island’s Legendary Club Scene from the 1960s to 1980s. It features a handful of Island bars that supported a number of bands trying to build a fan base.

Before the dawn of the Internet and well passed it, there was one weekly publication that aside from printing reviews and interviews, provided a musical calendar of artists playing around Long Island: Good Times. The paper was known to put bands on the map and benefitted from advertisements taken out by club owners.

Richard Branciforte has been the free paper’s publisher and editor for the last 53 years. Oddly enough, early on in his career, he rebuffed the idea of working with bar owners. Fresh out of college, with an affinity for writing and love of music, he was contacted by Jimi Hendrix’s publicist, and thought he’d be given a professional application for his school experience, but it wouldn’t be the case: 

“He told me, no, Jimi has a problem. I’m thinking immediately drugs. Now, this is 68, and he’s kind of a guitar god, but he has the same problem that bands have had from day one. He was getting stiffed by club owners all over the United States. So your job now would be to travel all over the country and collect the money from the clubs.” He thought about it and turned it down. “The real reason I didn’t take the job was that I had to collect money from bar owners, never realizing that for the next 53 years of my adult life, I would spend every week collecting money from bar owners.”

As part of the current club exhibit, you’ll see faux exteriors of a handful of clubs from the famous My Father’s Place to the infamous, Oak Beach Inn, whose “Save the OBI” bumper sticker was ubiquitous. Grab a pair of headphones and you’ll be able to relive those glory days through an audio/video presentation, featuring performances captured at each of the clubs. There is one façade that stands out and that’s Sheepshead Bay’s Pips comedy club, and not because it’s in Brooklyn as the hall’s reach already includes NYC’s two Island boroughs, but it was a harbinger of things to come: the induction of comedians. From Rodney Dangerfield and Eddie Murphy to Jerry Seinfeld, there seems to be organic comedic chemistry in the Island’s DNA.

Unlike other halls, walls or walks of fame, which can carry stringent rules regarding inclusion, the LIMEHOF seems to be more intent on finding a way to allow more acts and attractions in.

Long Island’s Legendary Club Scene: 1960s to 1980s will be on display into the Summer of 2023.  And while it might put you in the mood for a nostalgic pub crawl, when you are in Stony Brook, it might be easier to take in a nearby cultural crawl.  

Within a stone’s throw of LIMEHOF, you can visit the Long Island Museum and The Jazz Loft whose mission is the preservation and education and performances of one of the country’s original art forms.  Both institutions benefitted from the largesse of Ward Melville and family. 

Check before going as hours may be limited: 97 Main St, Stony Brook, NY 11790 and Telephone: 631-689-5888.

By Tom Farkas


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