by Kate Berube
The South Bay Arts showcase, held during Sayville’s Spring Fest on the steps of Chase Bank, was loaded with home grown talent. 26 acts performed, including local recording artist Camryn Quinlan with guitarist Charlie Duplessis, on the gorgeous spring Saturday to a delighted crowd. “It was amazing to have great weather and an audience. Many of the kids have been dreaming of this moment coming back again. It was all smiles and sunshine!” exclaimed South Bay Arts (SBA) founder and teacher Jack Licitra.
SBA provides both private music lessons and jam classes, but perhaps most importantly, it cultivates a scene for young musicians to grow into their own. “For us it’s about being a musical community. We like to give kids a chance to find themselves and build their confidence through the learning and performance process.” For many, it was the first time playing in front of a live audience since the COVID-19 pandemic last spring.“It fills me with joy to be able to play songs, that I either wrote in quarantine or fell in love with in quarantine, to people and to see faces, or at least the top half of them, in the crowd again,” said Riley Clare, 17, who performed original music including “One Year of the Mask” during the showcase.
“The whole South Bay Arts community is very welcoming,” explains Airlea Deutscher, 15 of Bayport who has been with SBA for 9 years. “Everyone feels comfortable singing and playing in front of each other and we all do our best to lift each other up during performances like these.”
By all accounts, the largest part of that magic is Jack Licitra himself, who has been teaching music privately since 2001. Licitra is known as a gifted music instructor whose empathic nature and generous spirit inspires a fierce loyalty from students and parents alike. “I’ve been working with Jack Licitra at South Bay Arts since I was 6 years old. He has been such an important role in my musical journey. He has given me so many performance opportunities, time in the studio, taught me how to write a song and has built my confidence as an artist. Without Jack’s support and guidance, I don’t know where I would be!” says Camryn Quinlan. Quinlan, an 8thgrade student at Sayville Middle School, is already an accomplished singer and songwriter who records her own work. After a long year, it was wonderful to hear Sayville’s Main Street filled with music again.