Long Island Music & Culture: Coram has 99 Problems, but OBriens Ain't One

Protest to Re-Open Local Restaurant and Music Venue on Long Island

 Photos of Memorable Moments at OBriens, Provided by Maxwell Peters &  Planet of Sound Promotions

Photos of Memorable Moments at OBriens, Provided by Maxwell Peters & Planet of Sound Promotions

On Wednesday, March 1st,  OBriens Ale House on Rte. 112 in Coram, NY was condemned by the Town of Brookhaven. In a building that used to be home to a Sizzler, OBriens has become home to local music of all kinds. Any night of the week you can walk in and find a special event being held, ranging from the weekly acoustic night every Sunday, to open mic on Wednesday night, and Improv jam on Thursday nights to rock, country, pop, metal, and punk rock concerts featuring local and touring musicians and artists. In addition to being home to many concerts, the restaurant often holds benefits for the community, including for the local fire department, for suicide prevention and birthday parties for many members of the local Long Island Music Scene. To many, OBriens is a place they call home- on and off the stage. 

 Restaurant Patron Dan Clerkin protests the gentrification- luxury condos being built in place of local businesses while there are many homeless in Coram. 

Restaurant Patron Dan Clerkin protests the gentrification- luxury condos being built in place of local businesses while there are many homeless in Coram. 

"Every year we get an inspection and if they have any problem you have 30 days to fix. Fire Marshall said he wasn't giving me 30 days and condemned the building," says business owner, Michael LaVigna. There was a violation written up for simple fixes:  a missing ceiling tile, outlet without a cover, a light bulb was out in an exit sign,  and an expired fire extinguisher.

"All the violation are now costing a $1,000 per violation. But prior to the raid I had my annual inspection 3 weeks ago and none of these violation where given to me," LaVigna states. 

 Protesters outside of OBriens, Rte 112 on Sunday Afternoon.  Photo provided by Suzanne Steele

Protesters outside of OBriens, Rte 112 on Sunday Afternoon. Photo provided by Suzanne Steele

On Sunday afternoon from 12-5 pm, local musicians, artists, and patrons of the establishment staged a peaceful protest to let the town of Brookhaven know this establishment is one that they are pushing to stay. 

In December, Superstar Beverage on Rte. 112 had been condemned for public safety risks. 
The town seems to be moving forward in trying to make Coram safer and trying to remove the homeless from the area. However, is putting a local establishment that brings in the business of many young people and families out of business truly making this town a better place to be? 
 

 Protest Poster made by Meghan Corbett

Protest Poster made by Meghan Corbett

Planet of Sound Promotions founder Maxwell Peters requested musicians and patrons recall some of their best memories at OBriens to garner support of reopening the business. Here are some of the fond memories many have made with the hope that the business will soon reopen to make many more. 
 

My very first show there meeting so many new and supportive faces in the musical family in a place I felt immediately at home and welcomed
— Kerrin Himberger, singer-songwriter, on favorite memories of OBriens
Loved the “Punk Island” fundraiser show we played way back when!! Pretty sure Ben played on my shoulders during that one.
— Jared Stenz, Foxtrax bassist, on memories of OBriens
One of the most beautiful displays of humankind yielded one of my most powerful memories, and it was because of something that happened at O’Brien’s.

It was the night all of us had learned of Leanna (McNaughton)’s passing and a bunch of us came out to play music in her tribute. Many of us sat in the parking lot before the room was ready for us and we’re singing and playing instruments beside each other and maybe 2 or 3 candles. I can’t even remember who started it but when we started singing Valerie there was something else in the air with us. A lot of us were crying due to the situation at hand (and the power of that little jam circle) but all I can remember was thinking “her spirit is going to carry all of us into better days”.

I really got to thinking about how even though all of us have just barely spent part of our lives together (some more than others), we’re all here together and feeling for each other. Our music, our little glimpses of light and life, shines bigger than we know with every step we take. Everybody in that parking lot was affected by somebody else and it was truly eye opening because we all felt human.

When I think about it, that was the magic of this place: you walked in and you felt human. Some of us met there, many of us played music there, and all of us were part of a community there; even for a moment.
— Louis Navas, Blacklist Collective Founder and Local Artist

Do you have a favorite memory to contribute? Contribute a memory here


Want to take Action? 

DONATE TO BENEFIT THE RESTAURANT FIGHTING OFF VIOLATIONS: 
GoFundMe
SEND LETTERS/EMAILS TO: 
Town Councilman Michael Loguerico at: councilmanloguercio@brookhaven.org
Town Supervisor Edward Romaine at: eromaine@brookhaven.org
CALL: 
631-451-TOWN
 NEWS12 Long Island (516) 393-1390, select 2

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