Rockville Centre resident Tommy Brull was an avid fan of indie rock and pop music growing up and, along with his brother, Martin, regularly attended concerts where they discovered new bands together, like Brull’s favorite — the ’90s group Luna.
Martin co-founded the Tommy Brull Foundation in 2008 in memory of Tommy, who died in an accident in 1999. Tommy was a counselor at Lido Beach’s Camp ANCHOR — Answering the Needs of Citizens with Handicaps through Organized Recreation — and the foundation raises funds to help children and adults with physical, mental and emotional disabilities in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $500,000 for various organizations and families across Long Island, and has raised more than $100,000 for the camp alone.
Since 2011, the organization has also held a series of benefit concerts called Shine A Light, which have featured headliners such as The War on Drugs, Deer Tick and Strand of Oaks. The series celebrated its 10th show on June 23 with headliners Kurt Vile and The Violators. When he founded the organization, Martin said, he never thought that he would be booking Luna to play a reunion show for the cause, which was held in 2012 at Mulcahy’s in Wantagh.
“We wanted to do something a little more focused on what Tommy liked,” Martin said.
On Dec. 28, the Shine A Light series feature The Felice Brother’s, who have played for the foundation twice before.
“They have quite a fan base on Long Island,” Martin said of the folk rock group. “And they’re really good guys.”
The show, at Junction in Long Beach, will also feature performers Spirit Family Reunion — a Brooklyn-based group influenced by traditional American music such as country, folk and gospel — and the band Twain.
“I focus on bands that I’m interested in and have something to say,” Martin said, explaining that his process as a booker has involved a lot of trial and error. “I don’t have any history in the music business, I just reach out with what we are trying to accomplish and have accomplished.”
The musicians are able to understand that they aren’t playing a typical show, Martin said. When they hear about the foundation before playing to an audience full of Tommy’s friends and family, “They really get into the cause and feel good about themselves.”
One of the foundation’s recent efforts included starting a six-week surf camp within Camp ANCHOR three years ago. In conjunction with Long Beach-based nonprofit Surf for All, the Tommy Brull Foundation has taught more than 400 kids with special needs to ride waves.
“It’s really rewarding to see them proud of what they’ve accomplished,” Martin said. The camp has recognized Brull and the foundation by naming their new gymnasium after him.
One of the main projects the foundation is currently focused on is installing an adaptive, all-inclusive playground in Rockville Centre in memory of longtime Recreation Superintendent Anthony Brunetta, widely known as Mr. B, who died last year.
Through its Shine A Light concerts, the foundation has raised $50,000 for the project, which costs $1 million and is $550,000 short of its goal.
“It feels amazing that the foundation has come along so well,” Martin said. “It’s become a real community organization and I’m just very proud of what we’ve done.”
To purchase tickets or for more information visit https://www.ticketfly.com/event/1574590-felice-brothers-rockville-centre/ or www.tommybrullfoundation.org/shine-a-light-music-series.