Astoria bar to host fund-raising event for children battling cancer

By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Astoria’s Beans & Lager will host a musical charity event Saturday, Dec. 15, with all the proceeds going to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for cancer research.

This is the first year that the Astoria bar will host the 6th Annual Andy Mac & Friends Fundraiser, which was started by Brooklyn musician Andrew McNamara in 2012 shortly after his 2-year-old niece Fiona went into remission from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

“It was hell on earth,” McNamara said about the year the toddler began her battle with cancer. “Once things settled down I turned to my sister and said I want to help families like ours but I don’t know any organizations.”

McNamara’s sister, Carolyn Cross, immediately suggested St.Baldrick’s Foundation.

“I don’t have much money but I have friends and friends of friends and everything we make goes straight to St. Baldrick’s,” said McNamara.

Beans & Lager is not charging the performers to use their space and all of the artists involved in the seven scheduled performances are working for free. The artists include Melissa Raye, Mark Radcliffe, Miss Caitlin Bell, Bryan Dunn, Lara Ewen and The Trouble Twins, and McNamara, who will be performing under his stage name, Andy Mac.

The house band is comprised of Aaron Kotler on the piano, Sean Dixon on percussion, Seth Ondracek on the bass, Kelly Halloran on the violin and Malin Gibbes on the saxophone.

McNamara has also started an online campaign to help reach the goal of raising $11,188, just one dollar more than what was raised last year.

The generosity of others is always surprising, and McNamara and his friends have a habit of beating their fund-raising goals by a huge margin. The $500 dollar goal set during the first fund-raiser in 2012 was beat ten-fold.

“At this exact moment our grand total is $48,411,”said McNamara. “So we’ll definitely make over a grand total of $50,000.”

Performances will include a mix of original songs and holiday classics.

There is a waitlist of 12 so far for the event, which is scheduled to run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Bean’s and Lager — located at 33-01 36th Ave. in Astoria.

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