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Bay Ridge rockers strike a chord with the troops

In the wake of the tsunami that devastated South Asia and East Africa in December 2004, Bay Ridge bands gathered together for a benefit at Peggy O'Neill's to raise money for UNICEF. After Hurricane Katrina, the community united to raise money for New Orleans.

Now, in support of the men and women in the armed forces, Bay Ridge bands will come together once again for a good cause.

On May 3, the Rocking For Our Troops benefit, supported by the Brooklyn Young Republican Club and held at Peggy O'Neill's in Coney Island, will feature local bands, such as Hell or High Water and The Dirty Stayouts, in a benefit to support our troops abroad.

Last year, Brooklyn native and Bay Ridge native Tony Ieva, who at the time had a nephew serving in Iraq in the Marines and has multiple war veterans in his family, including his late brother and father, started the benefit as a way to give back to the troops.

"I would hear so many people say they supported our troops but, I didn't see anything but protest marches, and demonstrations on TV, so I decided something positive needed to be done,” says Ieva, who, a mainstay in the Bay Ridge music community, is a drummer in the bands Hell or High Water and Our Back Pages.

That inaugural event raised over $3,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, which raises public awareness and enlists the public's aid for the needs of the severely injured service men and women.

This year, money goes to the USO of Metropolitan New York, a nonprofit organization which sends entertainment to our troops abroad, and kicking off the event will be The Liberty Bells, the USO's own female act, a nostalgic 1940's troupe reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters.

Bands returning to the Rocking For Troops benefit from last year's include Hell or High Water, The Dirty Stayouts, Prodigal Child, Head Over The Hill, and John Lepore & The Silver Falcons, new to the event this year are Our Back Pages and The Windsor Terrors for an all-Brooklyn event.

“Here in Bay Ridge, it's a very tight community of musicians. We all know each other, all support each other,” says Ieva, who, in addition to being found drumming in the Bay Ridge music scene, can also be found on the B1 bus as the driver (“If you see driver banging on the stealing wheel, that's me”).

Kicking off the lineup will be The Windsor Terrors at 2 p.m., a classic rock outfit that specializes in music from the British invasion era, followed by Hell Or High Water at 3 p.m., a Grateful Dead and classic rock-prone band that recently celebrated their 18th year rocking out together.

Continuing the classic rock vibe is The Dirty Stayouts at 4 p.m. and then, at 5 p.m., Prodigal Child, led by Mike Riddle belting out blues and rock classics while laying it down on the guitar. Then there's southern rock with Head Over the Hill at 6 p.m. followed by Our Back Pages at 7 p.m. New to the Bay Ridge music scene, the band will be playing '60's classics and the tunes inspired by them from the '70's and '80's.

Closing out the night will be John Lepore and The Silver Falcons doing 60's classics, including a lot of Byrds, as well as their own original music.

Like last year, the shindig will be held at Peggy O'Neill's in Coney Island.

“Hosting this benefit is the least we can do to support and thank those who have made so many sacrifices defending our freedom,” says John Imbriale, owner of Peggy O'Neill's.

After a successful first benefit, and the second one gearing up, Bay Ridge can expect to be rocking out for the troops next year as well.

“People get to see all these great bands at the same time,” says Ieva. “I hope it gets bigger and better every year.”

The Rocking For Our Troops benefit will be held on May 3 at Peggy O'Neill's (1904 Surf Avenue) from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $15 in advance by calling Tony Ieva at 347-668-4122, $20 the day of the event and free for active duty military personnel.

Hell Or High Water at last year's Rocking For Our Troops event at Peggy O'Neill's in Bay Ridge.

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