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Mitch-a-Palooza: Binding Ties of the Long Island Music Scene

By Christa Speranza
Assistant Copy Editor

Going into Mitchell Kraeling’s basement to listen to various bands was a regular for some Long Island kids. Man Overboard was one of the bands that played, now well noted across the state and country. Two years ago, Mitch was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma—a rare type of bone cancer. The first Mitch-a-Palooza event was created in response to this and brought huge success as Long Island bands came together to raise awareness, support, and donations to Mitchell and his family at the Broadway Bar in Amityville.

(Left to Right:) Lauren Pardo, Nick Amalfitano, Paul Brandel, and Dylan McGovern.  (Photo Credit: Christa Speranza)
(Left to Right:) Lauren Pardo, Nick Amalfitano, Paul Brandel, and Dylan McGovern. (Photo Credit: Christa Speranza)

In Oct. 2013, Mitchell Kraeling lost his battle to cancer. Nick Amalfitano, lead guitarist of Bellwether, was introduced to Crime in Stereo by Mitch, which happened to be his favorite band. They were best friends.

Hosted by East Coast Collective, a Long Island booking and promotion company, and Amalfitano, the second Mitch-a-Palooza event on Sunday, Feb 9, gathered five of Mitchell’s favorite bands, including Crime in Stereo, to the 89 North Music Venue in Patchogue. “He was always loved,” Amalfitano stated. “I had asked Vinnie [Caruana] to
do this benefit show and he was 100 percent for it. We talked with everyone—it seemed in the works since Mitch had a good relationship with Kristian of Crime in Stereo.”

Tomahawk Chop, No Good News, Bellwether, Vinnie Caruana (I Am the Avalanche/The Movielife), and Crime in Stereo, were the bands that performed. When asked what does Mitch-a-Palooza represent, Dan Clemens, guitarist/vocalist of Tomahawk Chop, responded, “We’re celebrating a kid who was a little too radical. He had a heart of gold—he was taken too early.”

Lined up across the ballroom of the venue were tables of merchandise and raffle prizes, all of which were donated by various vendors. Running the booths were Paul Brandel, Dylan McGovern, and Lauren Pardo: friends of Mitchell and supporters of the bands performing. “[This is] all about lifelong friendships and we all went to high school together,” said Brandel. “Mitch would want this.”

“All proceeds of the show go straight to the 11 South Wing in the Stony Brook University Medical Center in the Pediatric Ward, where Mitchell was treated,” Pardo noted. The group has already reached its goal, but if you wish to donate, you can do so at Mitchapalooza.

These bands, along with over one hundred Long Island music fans, put on an amazing show and demonstrated the interconnectivity of friendship, brotherhood, and as Desmond Zantua, lead singer of Bellwether, said, “Don’t mourn, celebrate. This is the perfect celebration, [like] a giant swan song.”

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