Exhibit Highlights Staten Island Music From Doo-Wop to Wu-Tang

By Nicholas Rizzi on May 1, 2012 8:42am 

Staten Island hip-hop group, Wu-Tang Clan will be among the musical groups features in the
Staten Island hip-hop group, Wu-Tang Clan will be among the musical groups features in the "Island Sounds" exhibit at Snug Harbor.
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STATEN ISLAND — When most people think of Staten Island musical acts, their mind goes straight to the Wu-Tang Clan or The New York Dolls.

An upcoming exhibit at Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Livingston, hopes to move past the 36 chambers.

"Island Sounds: A 500 Year Music Mashup," will feature artifacts and memorabilia from musicians and artists that were born, lived, worked and performed on Staten Island.

"A lot of people don't know about how many musicians came from here, perform here, and still live here today," said Lynn Kelly, Snug Harbor's president and CEO. "If you grew up here you might know. Now I want the world to know these are things we should be celebrating."

The exhibit will start in next week and run for 18 months. It will have a timeline of the forgotten borough's musical history, beginning in the pre-1500s, with songs from the Lunaape Indians, to the present.

Artists in the exhibit include Vernon Reid, guitarist of metal band Living Color; David Johansen, lead singer of the New York Dolls and of Buster Poindexter fame (who sung that "feeling hot, hot, hot," song played at weddings); the RZA from Wu-Tang Clan; 19th century harpist Maud Morgan; vaudeville performer Laura Burt and Vito Picone, from the doo-wop group The Elegants, among others.

Kelly said this exhibit will help dispel some of the negative ideas people might have about Staten Island and its residents.

"I feel like Staten Island always gets these weird connotations with it," she said. "I know and I want others to know about all the great stuff that's here. This is the culture that should be coming out of the Island."

Vistors can see the boots worn by Johansen during the New York Dolls reunion tour in 2004 and the keyboard that the RZA used on Wu-Tang's landmark album, "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)."

The exhibit will also commemorate the 120th anniversary of Snug Harbor's music hall, the second oldest music hall in New York City, Kelly said.

"We wanted to do something to really celebrate the significance of this event," she said. "The 'Island Sounds' exhibit was the perfect launch."

"Island Sounds" will go up in the main hall of the Snug Harbor campus on May 11. Kelly said some of the musicians feature in the exhibit will be on hand to celebrate the opening.

The exhibit will also include non-recording artists who helped or made music on the Island. Famous guitar shop, Mandolin Brothers, which has sold, built and repaired guitars for Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and others, will be featured. Jonathan Larsen, who wrote "Rent" and lived in St. George for several years, and Galt Mac Dermot, composer of the musical "Hair," who has lived on Staten Island for decades, will also have space in the exhibit.

The exhibit will be open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for students and seniors and children under 12 will be admitted free. It will run through to Dec. 12.

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