Bellmore-Merrick musicians rock out to benefit Midnight Madness post-prom party


With a diverse lineup of Bellmore-Merrick Central High School district students, alumni and musicians from throughout Nassau County, more than a dozen bands battled it out at the Brookside School last week at a Bellmore-Merrick Community Wellness Council event that raised more than $2,500 for the council’s annual Midnight Madness drug- and alcohol-free post-prom party.

The battle of the bands, which was held on April 19, drew Bellmore and Merrick residents who came to watch their classmates and neighbors perform for a cause.

Emilio Manzo, the council president, said the organization began holding a post-prom party for seniors and their dates as an option for students looking for a fun, safe after-prom event in a substance-free environment in 2008. He explained that Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg suggested that an all-ages battle of the bands would be a great way to raise money and bring the community together, and with the help of Steve Eplan, owner of The Rock Underground in Bellmore, the show came to life.

More than a dozen groups competed in the battle of the bands, with acts ranging from student bands from the district’s three high schools, alumni groups and others that play locally in Nassau County. One such band, Still Life, took third place in the competition. But they were bested by two student bands that took the first- and second-place prizes, which were contributed by the event’s sponsor, White Castle.

Wait For It, which featured Sanford H. Calhoun students Shane Driscoll, Dani Mancini, Eric Ravens, Landon Cooper, Cailin Coleman, Rob Mutarelli and Stephen Ponticello, won first place. Another group of Calhoun students, Contribution, won second place. Lucas Truisi, Jonathan Leiner, Justin Brower, Harley Davidson, Tim Grgas and Adam Wilkes make up Contribution.

Eplan said that thousands of dollars were raised for the post-prom event, and he called the battle of the bands a tremendous success. He said the sponsors and students made the night special.

“It’s an amazing to have an event like that with so many kids without one incident. All of the kids also stuck around to watch the other bands,” he said. “It was a tremendous success. I would even say it went better than expected.”

Manzo, who noted that the council raised $2,500 in ticket sales and that more than 200 people attended the event, agreed that the event went well in its first year. He thanked Denenberg for his idea and support of the event.