By Patrick Markey
A controversy is brewing over the Irish rock band Black 47’s participation in a festival and concert in New York’s City Island neighborhood after several local officials distanced themselves from the group, citing safety concerns, according to some City Island residents.
The band was due to play at Morris Yacht Club as part of the City Island’s annual Maritime Festival in early June. But late this month, the local chamber of commerce advised the club director Commodore Lupinacci that it had decided “not to include” Black 47 in the actual festival. Now, the concert will go on as scheduled but not officially as part of the festival.
In a certified letter to Morris Yacht Club director Commodore Lupinacci, Chamber of Commerce president Peter La Scala explained that in an April 20 meeting, officials from the Mayor’s office and the New York City Police Department had “advised us that a concert by such a popular group as Black 47 was not advisable as part of the Maritime Festival.” The letter states that the chamber decided to include the concert in the festival only if Black 47 were not playing. It was a matter of safety, the letter continued.
“We cannot include the Black 47 concert as part of the Maritime Festival activities,” the letter states, demanding any reference to Black 47 concert be removed from festival promotional material.
But a spokesman for the mayor’s office said city officials from the community assistance unit and the NYPD attended the meeting only to assist in planning, and help work out any logistical concerns. They did not, he said, advise that Black 47 should not play in the concert.
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“That objection came from members of the chamber of commerce,” the spokesman said.
Chamber president La Scala referred queries about the Chamber of Commerce to a postal address on City Island.
Yacht club house chairman Phil Armstrong said the club often does affairs of this size and logistically the Black 47 concert does not present any problem.
“I don’t know why there is any resistance in the chamber. It could only be a boost to business on the island,” he said.