Mazzstock rocked Marlboro last weekend

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 8/23/23

The popular annual music festival Mazzstock returned to Marlboro last weekend, celebrating its 15th year. The festival is the brainchild of “Big Lee” Mazzola, along with help from his …

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Mazzstock rocked Marlboro last weekend

The popular annual music festival Mazzstock returned to Marlboro last weekend, celebrating its 15th year. The festival is the brainchild of “Big Lee” Mazzola, along with help from his right hand man Vinny Pomarico. It started out in 2008 as a celebration for Lee’s 50th birthday but has grown into three days of peace, love and music; a tip of the hat to the Woodstock Festival in 1969. There were more than 30 bands that performed, along with a couple of DJs, throughout the weekend, alternating on two stages.  
Mazzola said, “I’m lovin’ the line up this year. I thought country night was a huge success for the first time, with a hundred or more supporters in front of the stage, more than I expected. I enjoyed myself, it was good.”
Mazzola said each festival takes a year of planning and said, “if people are not here, I feel sorry for them; that’s all I can say. People ask me to explain Mazzstock and I say it’s un-explainable; you’ve got to experience it, you’ve got to be here.” 
The Stephen Alexander Band was one of the country bands that kicked off the Festival on Thursday night. The band consists of Alexander and Mike D’Agostino, both on guitar and vocals, Brittany Concia on violin, Frank Santaganda on bass and Jean Wisun on drums.
“We are a little more gritty than a typical country band and we’ve got a really eclectic upbringing,” Alexander said. “We go from swampy bluegrass to rap type of country; we’ve got a little bit of everything in there.”
Alexander said his father’s taste in music is what got him into country music.
“He was always playing ‘old school’ records by Gene Autry, Johnny Cash and others and I started liking it, saying it’s pretty cool and as I got older I respected it more,” he recalled.
Besides playing in numerous festivals and clubs, he hopes one day to perform at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, one of the most prestigious and historic venues in all of country music. 
“That’s everybody’s wish,” he said.
The members of “What” met when they all attended SUNY New Paltz and all were music majors. The band consists of Ryan Perrone on trombone, Owen Moore on saxophone, Alex Endres on drums, Dan Steen on guitar, Jared Nelson on guitar and keyboards and Jeremiah Mahoney on bass.
Perrone said this is the third year the band has performed at Mazzstock.
“This is one of the best local festivals that we have in the Hudson Valley,” he said. “They have been doing it so long that they really have the organization of it all so well down and all of the staff are super helpful in moving our equipment around.” He thanked all of the people who regularly come to the festival and the staff who, “make sure the bands are taken care of and make sure the people attending are safe and happy. There are always solid performances that are put on here and always great light shows and great vendors.”
Resident and Town Councilman Manny Cauchi said he attended the very first Mazzstock in 2008 and can’t believe how the festival has grown since then, in technology with the light shows and the variety of bands and vendors. But he is quick to say that this music is old school rock n roll. 
“It’s a diversity of people coming from all corners of the tri-state area and it has become such an icon of a beautiful concept,” he said. “I really have to give credit to Lee [Mazzola] and Vincent [Pomarico] for the vision that they had to continue; they really have to be commended for their hard work and for the love they put into it for peace and music while promoting kindness to one another. It’s like doing the Lord’s work. It’s a fabulous and beautiful thing.”  
Cauchi said Mazzstock carries forward the wonderful spirit that took place in a field at Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York in 1969. 
Vinny Pomarico has been the co-producer of Mazzstock since its inception. He said he finds bands to perform and they sometimes find him. 
“I just keep my ears open and if I see and like what I hear and they seem like good people, that’s all I want,” he said. 
Pomarico said Mazzstock has become more than just music and a good time for festival goers.  
“It’s like a family, the people you can count on and even if things get tough, like the bit of rain we had today, I knew no matter what you can count on these people here.
Everybody helps here; that’s what’s beautiful about it.”
Pomarico said he sometimes will move his own band’s prime time slot in order to give a shot to a new and upcoming group of musicians. 
“To me, its become about helping local bands get an agent and then they exceed us,” he said. 
Pomarico gave thanks, “to everyone who is a part of this thing and contributes positively to it, whether you’re a volunteer or buy a ticket or bring some great art to us. You help us and we are happy to help you, that’s what it’s all about. It’s all love here and it’s wonderful.”