As a Hofstra undergrad journalism major during the mid-’70s, I hung out at the school paper The Chronicle, interviewed visiting speakers like Dick Gregory and Allen Ginsberg and late at night wrote jazz reviews. Everybody else wrote about rock and talked about a club called My Father’s Place.
“Cool,” I thought. “Somebody’s dad owns a music club.”
I learned you didn’t need to go to Roslyn for My Father’s Place, just turn on the radio. The club’s owner, a Buddha-bellied, snaggle-toothed former headshop owner named Michael Epstein, Long Island-famous as “Eppy,” had struck a deal with WLIR. The FM powerhouse broadcast concert pickups across much of the Northeast.
The club’s fame spread. Rock royalty poured into Roslyn: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, The Police, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. James Brown and Keith Richards. Cindy Lauper and Pat Benatar. Lou Reed. The Ramones.
“It was a time of drugs, free love, free sex and good music,” Epstein expansively told a local weekly newspaper in 2013.
Too good a time, perhaps. Citing parking and quality-of-life issues, authorities forced the club to close in ‘87. Eppy hunkered down, doing music promotion and artist management.
Six years ago, I organized an outdoor summer business networking series at an elegant Nassau hotel. We tapped the Long Island baby boom demographic and puzzled over which boomer celebrity everybody’d want to see.
We invited Eppy to open the series. From the open-air stage he captivated the boomer crowd with garrulous humor, Lawn Guyland chutzpah and a steady stream of rock anecdotes.
“You just gave me back a slice of my youth,” one attendee told me afterwards.
Last month, as if commemorating the club’s 30th anniversary of closure, Eppy returned to the spotlight to announce he was reopening My Father’s Place in – wait for it – Roslyn. He’d spent three years working out a deal with the owners of the 77-room Roslyn Hotel.
Having founded the grittiest rock club east of CBGB, having been inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2010, Eppy was opening a posh supper club. Well, who thought we’d ever hear Rod Stewart crooning songbook standards?
I called Eppy and asked how it came about.
“I never wanted to close My Father’s Place,” he acknowledges. “I was asked to leave because they wanted to build a shopping center. The municipality asked me back. I picked the hotel because they have three levels of parking. There will be no parking problems this time.”
Expect Eppy to adapt his fabled promotional skills, honed on progressive rock FM radio, to today’s social media channels.
“Everything changes,” he says. “But it’s all good, really. I’m bringing live music back, original music. Not just rock but jazz and reggae, blues and folk. Some nights we’ll have comedy. People forget I presented comedians like Billy Crystal, Andy Kaufman and Eddie Murphy.”
Eppy will revive his brand and take it upscale when My Father’s Place reopens, perhaps as early as June.
“There will be excellent food in our restaurant and nice tablecloths,” he says. As far as seating goes, “I’m ordering chairs that cost $325 and have lumbar devices.”
Eppy reflects on what he’d learned from building Long Island’s premier rock venue, then losing it amidst bitter recriminations from village officials and aggrieved neighbors.
“I f***** up terribly,” he recalls. “I’ll do everything differently this time. I f***** up by not having proper legal representation, by presuming things that weren’t true, and by disregarding the taxing authorities. I had a good set of books but it didn’t matter. You have to learn the ambiguities of all the laws.”
Eppy says he’s ready to bury the hatchet. Just don’t expect him to pucker up to his old adversaries.
“If they want to see a show they can buy a ticket,” he says. “Come buy a ticket, sit down and eat. I’ll put on a good show. Everyone will have a good experience.”
He adds: “That’s all I can do.”