Patti Blue & the Boyz Take Over Rockaway
By Katie McFadden
“This was my dream,” Patti McCartin said. For a year and a half, McCartin has been sharing her passion with Rockaway—singing. It seems like Patti Blue and the Boyz are just about everywhere on the Rockaway music scene, and the venues keep ‘em coming back for more.
The peak of the Covid pandemic changed lives across the world. For Rockaway Park resident, Patti McCartin, it meant a time of starting anew and following her dream. “I was working in the corporate world and when Covid hit, that’s when I decided to follow my passion and that’s always been singing,” she said. Since a young age, McCartin has been belting tunes. “I’ve been singing since I’m a child. It’s God’s gift. I just never really followed through with it the way I wanted to follow through,” she said. A long time ago, she sang for a rock band that hit hotspots in Long Island and Manhattan. But it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that she decided to dedicate more time to the thing that made her happiest.
“I started singing and doors started opening up for me,” she said. When Kyle Wade was performing at Caracas one summer, McCartin asked if she could get on the mic. “Kyle more than welcomed me and said, ‘You want to sing? C’mon.’ Then it started pouring raining and the show got cancelled,” McCartin said. “I said ‘How am I supposed to sing now?'” That’s when Guy Nevirs of Squid let her know about his open mic at Connolly’s. That led to connecting with Jammin Jon Kiebon, who gave her the nickname, “Patti Blue.” They played a few gigs together, including at Whit’s End, along with percussionist Ron Bongo. It was at a gig with Jammin’ Jon at Sal Lopizzo’s house where she met guitarist Billy Salvatore. It was from those connections that McCartin was able to start doing even more. “I was very fortunate to meet Billy Salvatore and Ron Bongo. They wanted to go in the same direction as me and create a band and have music that was different from the other local bands,” she said. With Billy and Bongo on board, Patti Blue and the Boyz was born.
And they’ve been painting the town Blue ever since. But it isn’t blues they’re playing. Patti Blue and the Boyz are the life of the party, bringing tunes that get crowds on their feet and singing along. “We play a lot of old rock and roll blends, have country music singalongs, songs that people say ‘Oh my God, I haven’t heard that in the longest time.’ We get everyone moving. From “House of the Rising Sun” to Etta James, “Proud Mary” to ballads, to even “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus, we did that the other night at Tap That. I’m always looking for new things and old music and just things that are different and it seems to be going over very well,” McCartin said.
Patti Blue and the Boyz have been rocking out all over the peninsula. From Bungalow Bar to RBQ, Rogers, Healy’s, the Rooftop at the Hotel, Caracas, to even being the first band to play at new cocktail bar, The Rose Den, and most recently at Tap That, which is already having them come back to play on St. Patrick’s Day. She also plays in Astoria at places like Shenanigans. But Patti Blue is also one of the first to sign up for and organize charitable events. She sings at The Little North Pole to help raise money for juvenile diabetes each year, plus she helped organize a musical fundraiser for the victims of the 102-00 Shore Front fire last year and has performed at events for veterans and autism awareness. She’ll also be organizing music and playing for the Denim Day event on April 22 for domestic violence and sexual assault awareness.
Originally from Astoria but living in Rockaway for ten years, McCartin says there’s something special about being able to play in her hometown. “I love Rockaway. The people here are amazing. I love how everyone sticks together through hardship and things like that so for me to be able to bring my music and entertainment here, especially for events, I love doing that. I love giving back,” she said. And the audience gives it right back to her. “I love capturing the crowd. I’m not just a singer, I’m a performer. I get the audience singing and put the mic right up to them. I love the reaction,” McCartin said.
Patti Blue and the Boyz have been doing so many gigs recently that McCartin says she’s being recognized beyond the stage. “I’m becoming recognized when I’m at the supermarket now,” she said. And soon, fans can show their support at the supermarket or elsewhere, as the band just made t-shirts that they’ll be selling at gigs. If you want to catch Patti Blue and the Boyz for yourself, they’ll be at Tap That on March 17, Shenanigans in Astoria on April 1 and at Rogers on Beach 116th on April 8, plus other gigs are in the works, including a return to The Rose Den.
No matter where she is, Patti knows things are heading in the right direction. “This was my dream. I’m lucky Billy and Ron fell in my path, and we were able to grow from it and all these doors are opening for us. I feel like I’m on the right path in my life,” she said. “I’m following my heart and I’m following my passion, and this is something I love. I love entertaining and I love entertaining for the Rockaway people.”
Photos by Theresa Racine.