Adam Brownstein


Brentwood Songstress Auditions on The Voice

Clerida Eltme singing and performing cello during her audition for The Voice. (NBC)

A 30-year-old Brentwood singer who plays the cello appeared Monday on the blind audition round of NBC’s singing competition reality show The Voice.

Clerida Eltme sang “Put Your Records On” by Cornine Bailey Rae, but judges Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, John Legend, and Blake Shelton did not turn their chair around to select her to move on in the competition. 

“I thought that was such a unique performance style,” Jonas told her. “Your voice is pretty phenomenal, I just don’t think it was enough for me to turn around today.”

In order to make sure a contestant is selected solely based on their singing ability, judges on The Voice face the opposite direction while the contestants sing. Judges who like what they hear and want to mentor the contestant throughout the competition hit a button to turn their chair around and ask them to join their team. If a judge doesn’t hit their button before the song ends, all judge chairs automatically turn around, and the contestant does not advance to future rounds.     

Despite not selecting her, the judges gave Eltme loads of praise and advice. 

“You have the tools, I know you do,” exclaimed Shelton. “Next time come out here and just give us that beautiful voice of yours for an entire performance.” 

Eltme is a classically trained cellist who frequently performs classical, hip-hop, pop, and R&B music. She has previously performed at Madison Square Garden, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Barclays Center, and has played with award-winning artists such as Frank Ocean, J.Cole and Stevie Wonder. Currently, she is a music enrichment teacher for preschool centers in New York City. 

Eltme took her experience on The Voice in  stride, joking on her Facebook page, “no chair turn for me but i looked cute doe.” 


Nassau To Hold Hearing on Coronavirus Preparedness

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Credit: NIAID-RML

Nassau County will hold a public hearing Monday to discuss local agencies’ preparedness for the possibility that coronavirus cases may soon be confirmed on Long Island.

County legislators will hear from the Nassau’s Office of Emergency Management, Department of Health, and members of the public to ensure that Nassau has adequate staffing, resources, procedures, and protocols in place to contain and prevent a potential spread of the virus.

“We want to get the information out to the public that 1, Nassau County is prepared for the public and 2, that we can do what we can as legislators to help the county with its preparedness,” said Nassau County Legislator Steven Rhoads (R-Bellmore).

This announcement came after the first coronavirus case in New York State was confirmed in Manhattan on Sunday and a second case was confirmed Tuesday in Westchester County.

Last week, Nassau officials announced that 83 people were being monitored for possible coronavirus exposure and six people who had been tested were negative. Suffolk County was monitoring 29 people.

Amid fears of the virus potentially turning into a pandemic, misinformation about the disease, such as possibly getting it from Chinese restaurants and Corona beer, have spread.

“We don’t want our businesses to be hurt, we don’t want travel to be hurt,” said Legislator Rose Walker (R-Farmingdale). “People should go about their lives as normal as they can, [but] just like any situation do the right things to be preventive and make sure we stay on top of things.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have laid out some tips to prevent the spread of Coronavirus such as washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, staying home when sick, sneezing into tissues, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a cleaning wipe or spray.

The CDC does not recommend people who are not sick to wear face masks, but they do recommend face masks for individuals who show symptoms so that the disease can not spread. 

Bellport Singer Earns Golden Ticket on American Idol

Shannan Gibbons makes her American Idol debut on March 1. (ABC/Eliza Morse)

A 20-year-old singer from Bellport gave an emotional and memorable American Idol audition Sunday that so impressed judges she earned a “Golden Ticket” fast tracking her to the Hollywood round.

Shannon Gibbons wowed the American Idol judges with her soulful rendition of “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James. Judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie gave her a Golden Ticket that allows her to compete in a series of pre-taped and live rounds filmed in Hollywood for a chance to win a recording contract and grand prize of $250,000.

“[Auditions like yours] is why I keep coming back to this show, Shannon,” exclaimed Perry. “I ain’t letting any more people go through unless they’re as good as [you].”

Bryan echoed the enthusiasm. 

“[Shannon’s] our new barometer…our new standard,” Bryan concurred.

Bryan, Perry, and Richie didn’t need to deliberate much after that, as the three unanimously agreed to simultaneously say the words Gibbons had dreamed of for years: “You’re going to Hollywood.” 

Before the audition itself, American Idol showed a testimonial of Gibbons, where she discussed her past struggles with depression. 

“I remember being four years old, before going to kindergarten, and literally having suicidal thoughts every single morning,” said Gibbons, who held back tears as she recalled her journey. “Music got my mind off it. I was chasing a dream, but also every single day I was having thoughts about not being there tomorrow. My family helped me so much they were the ones that pushed me to go get help and go see a psychiatrist. Once I did that my world opened up.”

Outside of her American Idol audition, Gibbons is media studies major at Queens College and is a member of the school’s soccer team. She is also the youngest member of the Long Island-based band The Om-en. 

Gibbons joined the group of “middle-aged men” about two and a half years ago after meeting them at church. The group helped give Gibbons an opportunity to perform at renowned events and music festivals including; the Sundance Film Festival, Great South Bay Music Festival, and Montauk Music Festival. 

To follow Gibbons’s journey, watch American Idol Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.  

10 Places to Celebrate Mardi Gras on Long Island This Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras isn’t just limited to New Orleans. Long Island is home to numerous restaurants and venues hosting their own special Fat Tuesday celebrations on Feb. 25.

From Cajun-style food to jazz-fueled atmospheres, these are some of the restaurants that bring the fun of New Orleans to LI. 

Bayou Jones
153 Merrick Ave., Merrick, 516-378-7177, bayoujones.com
This Southern Kitchen and Bar is celebrating Fat Tuesday in style with free Mardi Gra related giveaways and live music from Long Island’s own Roy Wilson and The Buzzards. To get your stomach into the Louisiana spirit, Bayou Jones has an array of Louisiana-styled dishes like jambalaya, blackened catfish tacos, alligator skewers, gumbo, and crawfish diablo. As a Fat Tuesday special, Bayou Jones’s dining room is offering a three-course meal at the fixed prices of $50 from 5-6 p.m. and $55 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Big Daddy’s
1 Park Lane, Massapequa, 516-799-8887, bigdaddysny.com
Big Daddy’s offers a week-long celebration of Fat Tuesday starting on Feb. 19 that is filled with live music, live crawfish boils, and 2-for-1 Oyster Shooters. This all leads up to their big party, that’ll include a classic New Orleans Style Buffet and live music from The Kings Cobras. Some of the Louisiana style cooking that Big Daddy’s has to offer are Baton Rouge Broiled Oysters, Cajun Burger, Big Easy Fried Chicken, and Habanero Goat Cheese Grits.

Biscuits and Barbeque
106 East 2nd St., Mineola, 516-493-9797, biscuitsandbarbeque.com
This trailer converted into a diner-style restaurant gives a lively atmosphere that’ll surely liven up anyone’s Mardi Gras. Biscuits and Barbeque, which was featured in a 2018 episode of the Emmy Award winning show Marvelous Ms. Maisel, offers can’t miss dishes like the alligator sausage, the brisket, the smoked barbecued half chicken, the mac ‘n cheese, and their big portion of biscuits and gravy. Leave credit cards at home as this is a cash-only establishment, but make sure to bring a mighty appetite.

Blackbirds Grille
553 Old Montauk Hwy., Sayville, 631-593-4144, blackbirdsgrille.com
Let the good times roll at the Blackbirds Grille and enjoy their Mardi Gras specials. From Friday Feb. 21 until Feb. 25, start the meal off right with any of their delectable appetizers of alligator sausage bao, crawfish etouffee, charbroiled oysters, or andouille and crab cheesecake. Then feast upon an entree of bacon-wrapped chicken breast, pecan-breaded catfish, Cajun shrimp and grits, or blackened Delmonico.

Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Pub Crawl
Begins at The Penny Pub, 79 W Main S.t, Bay Shore, @bayshorerestaurantcommittee
The Bay Shore Restaurant Committee will be holding its first annual Mardi Gras Pub Crawl. For $10, participants will get beads and a bracelet that’s good for food and drink specials at any of the participating stops along the crawl. Some of the businesses participating in the bar crawl include; Penny Pub, Corks & Taps, Changing Times, T.J. Finleys, and The Tap Room. Some of the establishments participating will also have live music to help give the night a New Orleans-esque atmosphere. The fun begins by registering at The Penny Pub at 5 p.m. on Mardi Gras.

134 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor, 631- 367-6060, grassosrestaurant.com
Searching for a friendly place with food and live music to celebrate Mardi Gras? Look no further than Grasso’s, a place that visitors have called the “Cheers of Cold Spring Harbor.” Patrons can enjoy a meal off of Grasso’s Mardi Gras special menu made by executive chef Tony Canales, as they enjoy blues music performed by the band Back on Bourbon Street. By the end of this relaxing night, it’ll surely feel like Grasso’s is a place “where everyone knows your name.”

Louisiana Joe’s Sandwich Shop
488 Merrick Rd., Oceanside, 516-442-9838, louisianajoes.com
Wake up with the delicious taste of New Orleans-inspired cooking by coming to this casual eatery. Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Louisiana Joe’s serves mouthwashing traditional foods like Po-boys, Gumbos, and Jambalaya for lunch, and savory platters and sandwiches for breakfast. Coming and trying one of the breakfast sandwiches like the “The Rising Sun” which is made of two fried eggs, crumbled chorizo, cheese and bayou sauce on a toasted kaiser roll, will surely help Mardi Gras start on a high note.

Mara’s Southern Kitchen
236 West Jericho Tpke., Syosset, 516-554-5510, marasouthernkitchen.com
Mara’s Southern Kitchen is a Southern, barbecue, and Cajun restaurant offering free beads, $5 hurricanes, and $7 monsoons as part of their Mardi Gras celebration, but the big draw is definitely their food. Mara serves fresh oysters, crawfish, crabs and shrimp that are flown in from the Louisiana Gulf and are made for order. Some menu highlights are the blackened redfish, catfish New Orleans, which is a sautéed catfish fillet glazed with crawfish etouffee, and gator bites made from Louisiana alligators. Make sure to save room for a dessert of Bluegrass pie, banana butterscotch rye pie, strawberry jalapeno ice cream, or chocolate scotch ice cream.

Po’Boy Brewery
200 Wilson St., Port Jefferson Station, 631-828-1131, poboybrewery.com
Wear a Mardi Gras mask or outfit and enjoy a refreshing beer while listening to jazz music. Po’Boy Brewery will be pairing up with The Mobile Munchiez food truck to offer festive foods, like jambalaya, po’boys and empanadas. To add even more fun to the festivities, the brewery is also offering a deal where for $12 patrons can get a pint and a do-it-yourself Voodoo doll kit. Seating is limited so it is advised to get tickets in advance.

Treme Blues and Jazz Club
53 Main St., Islip. 631-277-2008, tremeislip.com
One of the few jazz clubs on Long Island, Treme Blues and Jazz Club will get visitors to dance the night away with live music and drinks. Slap Yo Mama Jazz Brigade will be back to play sweet jazz once again. Although Treme is a music venue, its menu features New Orleans-style cocktails such as hurricane, vieux carre, sazerac, and roffignac. 

Nassau Holds Hearing on NY Bail Reform

Nassau County NIFA
The Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola has a statue of TR standing out front.

New York State’s controversial bail reform is putting public safety at risk and increasing costs to municipalities, according to critics who testified Thursday at a Nassau County Legislature hearing on the topic.

Nassau’s Republican-led legislature held the hearing just as Democratic majority state lawmakers in Albany were reportedly negotiating amendments to the law that eliminated cash bail for a long list of misdemeanors and felonies when it went into effect Jan. 1.

“Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and because of this law, we will be grieving the loss of an incredible young man, when we should be celebrating the engagement of one of the most incredible partnerships I’ve ever seen,” said Victor Maldonado, father of 27-year-old Jonathon Flores-Maldonado, who was killed in Suffolk on Jan. 12 by an alleged drunken driver released without bail following an arrest for tampering with a court-ordered ignition interlock device. “We believe he was saving money for an engagement to propose.”  

Holding back tears, Maldonado pleaded for Nassau lawmakers to help convince state lawmakers to change the law. 

The proposal that state lawmakers are reportedly considering would again reform cash bail — correcting the disparity in which wealthy defendants are free pending their trails while poor defendants who can’t afford bail remain jailed while they fight their charges — and restore judicial discretion in deciding which defendants are held.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder testified at the hearing that crime is up for the first month of the year compared to last year. Ryder recently came under fire when he suggested that a witness who was recently murdered before he could testify in an MS-13 trial was killed as a result of a provision in bail reform that speeds up the discovery process in which prosecutors share with defense attorneys the identities of witnesses. Defense attorneys maintain that they did not share the witness’ name with their clients and blasted the commissioner for accusing the attorneys of enabling the murder.

Assistant Nassau County District Attorney Jed Painter, another critic of the bail reform, said witness protection requests between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12 were double the amount of requests that Nassau prosecutors received in all of 2019. 

And in the Village of Freeport, Mayor Robert Kennedy said the village board had to raise taxes to fund complying with bail reform. 

“We have to look at the worst case scenario, and worst case scenario to me is $2.7 million,” he said. “We’ve increased taxes by 5.7 percent this year in this budget and it’s directly attributed to this discovery reform.”  

Legislator Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the Democratic minority leader of the county legislature, accused Republicans of using the issue to try to score cheap political points, noting that Albany passed bail reform, not Nassau.

“No Democrat or Republican in this legislature had anything to do with this law, but today we find ourselves holding a hearing, which starts with the premise of calling on the county executive to denounce the law,” Abrahams said, noting that Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has already joined calls for Albany to fix bail reform. “To me this is just you trying to link her to something you gain a political advantage on.”    

-With Timothy Bolger

211 Long Island Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary on 2/11

The United Way of Long Island celebrated the 10th anniversary of the 2-1-1 hotline on Feb. 11, 2020 at the Bethpage Federal Credit Union in Central Islip. Long Island Press photo.

The nonprofit United Way of Long Island celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launched of its popular 2-1-1 hotline on Tuesday, Feb. 11.  

United Way’s 2-1-1 Long Island is a free, confidential service that provides callers with helpful information to those in need of assistance. Since its founding in 2010, 2-1-1 Long Island has assisted with more than 2 million inquiries that they have received through its call center and online database. 

“Over the 10 years we’ve been operating, basic needs is the highest request and search we’ve gotten by far,” said Elizabeth Eberhardt, the assistant vice president of community impact for the United Way of Long Island. “People looking for your basic food assistance, housing assistance, utility assistance, and maybe funding for medical issues. By and large it is people lacking the income and the resources to manage a crisis in their life at the time.”

The 2-1-1 Long Island hotline started with just Eberhardt answering the phone. It has since grown into a 24/7 operation with a call center and online database that collectively get hundreds of thousands of requests for help annually.

“Another big area of interest is mental health support,” said Lori Abbatepaolo, the adult services librarian at the Middle Country Public Library whose staff assists in maintaining the 2-1-1 website. “That sort of goes hand in hand because when you are living in such duress it is hard to maintain a quality of mental health when you’re always stressed.” 

A notable instance of such a case occurred when a Spanish-speaking resident called the 2-1-1 Long Island hotline in despair. A specialist who received the call immediately transferred the resident to the 2-1-1 interpreter line with a capability of translating more than 200 different languages and then assisted in transferring the caller to a local crisis center hotline. Two 2-1-1 specialists then stayed on the line with the resident until they got confirmation that the crisis line worker had transferred the call to an interpreter so the resident could get the help they needed.

Robert Suarez, the assistant vice president of community development for Bethpage Federal Credit Union, touted the Bethpage Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program that’s one of the many programs accessible through 2-1-1. The 17-year-old program, which offers free tax help for low to moderate income individuals and families, has helped more than 18,000 Long Islanders. 

“We may not change the world, but we are impacting and enriching people’s lives everyday, which is meaningful and powerful,” said Suarez.

The celebration concluded with a 10 year anniversary cake as Eberhardt exclaimed: “911 is for a burning building, 211 is for a burning question.”

Long Island Valentine’s Day Events 2020

Candy Love Valentine's Day Chocolates Heart

Bring your special someone to see Long Island’s own America’s Got Talent finalist Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti sing the night away. Suffolk Theater, 118 E Main St., Riverhead, suffolktheater.com $65 8 p.m. Feb. 14, 15. 

Roses are red, Ron White’s collar is blue, celebrate Valentine’s Day, with this funny comedian, too. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington, paramountny.com 7 p.m., 10 p.m. Feb. 14.

If you want to know the struggles of a disastrous date, but don’t want to go through one yourself, this comedic showcase is for you. Join comedians Jared Scheinberg and Christina Scheinberg as they host a hilarious Valentine’s Day show. Governors @ ‘Lil Room, 90 Division Ave., Levittown, lilroom.govs.com $15-$50. 8 p.m.Feb. 14.

Enjoy some champagne, chocolate covered sweets, and the cinema classic Cassabalanca with your special someone. Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington, cinemaartscentre.org $15-$20. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14. 

In the mood for something more than a three course meal, but less than a five course meal? Well you’re in luck, as you and your special Valentine can enjoy a romantic four-course meal, while dancing the night away at the beautiful Glen Cove Mansion. Glen Cove Mansion, 200 Dosoris Lane, Glen Cove, glencovemansion.com $99 per person. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14.

This Valentine’s Day love is in the air and by the water. Enjoy a five-course meal, paired with wine and chocolate, as you surround yourself with the one you love and beautiful aquatic displays. Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, 431 East Main St., Riverhead, longislandaquarium.com $199 per couple. 8 p.m. Feb. 14.

Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, but you could continue celebrating the day on Sunday with a beer and wine tasting bus tour. With stops at North Fork Brewing Company and Riverhead Ciderhouse you’ll be amazed at what Long Island has to offer. Additionally, along your journey you can enjoy some complimentary cheese and chocolates, which’ll surely hit the spot. There are four different pick up spots for this event. libeerbus.com $160 per couple. 11:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12 p.m. and 12:15 p.m. Feb. 16.

Follow your heart to The Heckscher Museum of Art to express your love for the arts. From Feb. 12 to Feb. 16, visit the museum and pick up a paper heart to take with you throughout the museum. Once you find a piece of art that has stolen your heart, you can decorate the heart, place it below your favorite artwork, and photograph said heart for social media. When you post to your social media site of choice, make sure to post it with the hashtags #heckschermuseum and #heartsforart, so you have a chance of being reposted by the museums social media accounts! The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington, heckscher.org 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 12-16.