BY MELISSA STUMPF
In the midst of a storm, he kept his head up high. Most importantly, he turned the bad into something good for everyone and gave them a reason to smile.
Musician Walker Hornung—who has been writing and performing over the years with The Brotherhood of the Grape, Xtatik, Q-South and other bands—came up with a terrific idea after Superstorm Sandy devastated the east coast last October. Seeing the destruction around him drove him to create a compilation album, Greetings from South Queens—Songs That Survived SuperStorm Sandy, which has already sold more than 2,000 copies.
“Everybody was helping each other, doing things,” said the Howard Beach native who now lives in Island Park. “The only thing I know how to do is music. I’m not a plumber; it was my only logical approach.” As a result, he used the skills he has to lend a hand.
Hornung was personally affected by the hurricane. “We had no lights for six weeks,” he noted. “There was no power where I lived. I had to move my family out.”
But he stayed, despite the conditions. “Somebody had to stay behind,” he lamented. Without any protection for the home, Hornung felt he needed to look after the material things for which he was responsible. “It was me, my guitar and my dog.”
That’s when the idea to cut an album came to him, and he reached out to the bands that normally take part in Rockaway Beach’s annual Rockstock and Barrels Surf Festival to see if they were interested in contributing songs.
Hornung—who contributed three tracks to the album—received hundreds of submissions from different bands that wished to take part in the project. However, to keep the connection to the hurricane, he set a few rules.
“First of all, you had to be from one of the affected areas,” Hornung explained. “Some bands lost all of their equipment.” So he kept the focus on artists that were really impacted by Sandy, and he gathered 17 talented acts.
The songs that appear on the album had been previously recorded but never used before, so they are all new.
“These are really good bands with really good songs,” Hornung concluded.
The record was produced by Frank Persico (a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Ozone Park) and Into the Whip Records paid for the first 1,000 copies of the record.
Each band on the album was given a number of CDs to sell and the freedom to choose the organization they wanted to donate the proceeds to. Some of the charities that received revenue from sales are the Robin Hood Foundation, whose Robin Hood Relief Fund is targeted at areas hard hit by Sandy, and Rockaway W.I.S.H., headquartered in one of the communities most devastated by the storm.
As for the Rockstock and Barrels Surf Festival, although things may have changed because of the storm, Hornung’s spirits are high. “A lot of these places are gone,” he explained. “[However], we want to keep pushing forward.” He said the festival would be back this year.
The digital version of Greetings from South Queens can be purchased for $9.99 on iTunes. If you prefer a hard copy, contact Hornung via email at walker@brotherhoodofthegrape or buy it from cdbaby.com.