By Maddy Vitale
VFW Post 6650 Commander Michael Morrissey hopes a benefit concert July 7 at the Ocean City Music Pier by Billy Joel cover band, NYSOM, will raise a lot of funds to help the post with its projects in the community.
“Our VFW Post supports scholarships. We give funds to the community,” he said. “We make sure our post looks good and whatever is left over from the benefit, we put back into the pot for more projects.”
Morrissey, a retired Army sergeant, said the benefit has been successful in the past.
“We have been doing this benefit for seven years. It is profitable because of the support from Mayor Jay Gillian, the City, and the Chamber of Commerce,” Morrissey said. “We are combat veterans. We are proud of that and like to take care of our own. We feel we do good work. We aren’t heroes. We are just people helping people.”
Clark Manley, Senior Vice Commander of Post 6650 and a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marines, said of the concert, “We are trying to raise funds by putting on a good quality concert for the community. Ocean City is a big supporter of the veterans. We go out and we do these things with the whole purpose of doing things for the community.”
The NYSOM concert is from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are on sale at www.ocnj.us/musicpier.
And just as the VFW members are eager to host a successful event, the performers are excited to put on an awesome show.
“In our typical shows we will do between 30 and 40 songs. We have a great band,” said Marc G. Dalio, lead singer and pianist of NYSOM.
The band really engages the audience, he said.
“We encourage people to sing along with us. We do Billy Joel trivia and let the audience decide some of the songs. It is a good time,” Dalio said. “It is not a sit down and be quiet concert.”
Dalio is an award-winning performer, whose stage credits include leading roles in such Broadway shows as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon. He is currently the coordinator of the Musical Theatre Program at New Jersey City University.
The other band members also have impressive resumes, with Broadway shows and performances with other well-known musicians, Dalio noted. Dave Battelene plays guitar and Mike Ravenda is on bass. Steve Schwesinger is the saxophonist. Isaac Del Rosario plays the keyboards, Paul Dinkin is the drummer and backup vocalists are Ashley Leone and Jenna Ravenda.
Dalio, who is from Sussex County, said the band has never played the Ocean City Music Pier before, and can’t wait.
“I spent time up and down the shoreline,” Dalio recalled. “As a kid from North Jersey, it is a rite of passage to go to the shore. I do remember spending some time in Ocean City, as any New Jersey resident should, so I am really looking forward to going back down.”
For Dalio, the concert holds a special significance.
His father, who is deceased, was in the Navy. Dalio grew up going to Fourth of July parades and other events where he watched veterans and learned about all the good they do for each other and the community.
“My father ingrained in me early on to have a deep respect for the military,” he said.
He has hopes that the show will not only showcase NYSOM’s talents, but also assists VFW Post 6650 in its work.
“I hope the place is super-crowded,” Dalio said of the Music Pier. “Our hope is that the VFW does a lot of things they are hoping to do with the money.”
Dalio, who grew up at a time when Billy Joel and Elton John were the big artists, formed NYSOM, which stands for New York State of Mind, a Billy Joel hit, in 2015.
He said a student’s father at the university he works at said, “‘You ought to do Billy Joel.’ It had always been in the back of my mind.”
While the plan is to bring a fantastic concert to the Music Pier, the performer also said, “Nobody is going to be Billy Joel. I think we play the music really well. I know I can’t, and don’t, sound like Billy Joel. But we share with everyone else our love for Billy Joel the best way we can.”