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The Sunnyside Wolverines perform during the 2016 Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert. Photo: Artie Weiner.
The Sunnyside Wolverines perform during the 2016 Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert. Photo: Artie Weiner.

The Roaring Twenties Jazz Era is coming to Sunnyside this week.

Hundreds of music lovers – many dressed as flappers or sporting short suit jackets with Oxford bag pants, double-breasted vests, white flower boutonnieres, and bowler hats — will fill Bliss Plaza for a 1920s-themed extravaganza on Thursday, Aug. 3, starting at 3 p.m.

Organized by Sunnyside Shines and local fan Paul Maringelli, the five-hour memorial event celebrates legendary local musician Leon Bismark Beiderbecke, who was affectionately called “Bix.” The headline event is a concert by The Sunnyside Wolverines, a tribute band named after the honoree’s first group that Maringelli leads. Then, Astoria Swing Dance members will show off their jitterbugging and lindyhopping talent before Bliss Street Creamery offers free samples of Bix Licks, a corn ice cream with a honey-sriracha swirl that was created during a flavor contest for the occasion.

The fun will end at around 8 p.m. with a procession to Bix’s old building, 43-30 46th St., where a memorial marble plaque adorns the facade. (He lived — and died — in Apartment 1G)

Born in Iowa’s Davenport, the self-taught cornet player got his start in Chicago in the early 1920s before moving to New York City, where he joined the big society band of Paul “King of Jazz” Whiteman and performed with Bing Cosby and Tommy Dorsey.

Bix was well respected on the jazz scene due to his distinctive tone and timbre, described as “bullets hitting a bell.” However, he had a drinking problem and experienced a nervous breakdown in 1930. About a year later on Aug. 6, 1931, he was found dead in his Sunnyside apartment at age 28. There’s speculation that he had imbibed too much illegally made, toxic alcohol during Prohibition, but lobar pneumonia was probably the main cause.

Admission is free. Bliss Plaza is located directly under the 7 train’s 46th Street station between the eastbound and westbound sides of Queens Boulevard.

Editor’s note: The Bix Beiderbecke Story is a four-CD collection available on Proper Records. It contains about 100 pieces.

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