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Local Teens Rock Out For Autism April 28

Long Island musicians turn passion into charity

For the fourth year in the row local teen musicians are joining forces to bring awareness to childhood autism through a musical showcase, Rock Out Autism.

“No matter what background you are, whether you have autism or not, music is something that resonates with people,” said Rafe Tangorra, member of the band Paging Grace and co-founder of Rock Out Autism.

On Saturday, April 28, several musicians, singers and bands, from across Long Island will perform at Farmingdale’s Nutty Irishman. The organization has created an exciting, family-friendly rock concert experience.

Tangorra said the range of performances is so expansive, not as limited as some think. This year’s lineup includes Paging Grace, Nick Tangorra, The Walking Tree, Homebound, Trish Torrales, and Head Games. “We get a lot of awesome talent submitting [requests] to play this show each year,” Tangorra says Rock Out Autism receives about 150 submissions from bands each year. The range of music in each year’s showcase includes pop, classic, Christian and more.

Tangorra told Anton Newspapers that over the years he had just seen so many of his friends’ siblings and other neighbors who were affected by autism. “I wanted to do something outside of playing my music in my basement to help do something.” It was then that he reached out to friend, and co-founder of Rock Out Autism, Gina Cardino, to try to form a benefit show. The duo, while still in high school, began to use their talent and passion for music to give back for a cause and in the first year it sold out at the Nutty Irishman, raising about $15,000.

In the second year, Rock Out Autism raised close to $25,000. Tangorra said they began to realize their effect on helping to relieve families of some of the excessive costs associated with servicing children with autism. “We’re about helping with the services of autism, not so much for a cure,” Tangorra explained. This year’s proceeds will go to help the Brookville Center for Child Services, which operates a music therapy program for children with autism.

Soon after the second show, Fay Linder, founder of Fay J. Lindner Center for Autism in Brookville, mentored the growing success of Rock Out Autism. Tangorra said Linder helped establish Rock Out Autism as a not-for-profit organization; this is Rock Out Autism’s second year as a registered 501(c)3 charity.

Tangorra also shared some of his experiences as a peer mentor for children with autism. He has been mentoring for about six years, and explained, “There have been a lot of studies done showing the best treatment for a child with autism is peer mentorship because they mimic what they see and hear.” One of his most memorable peer mentorships was with Justin, now 19, who he met while demonstrating music for some children at a local autism center. While teaching some chords on the guitar and some drum work, Tangorra said Justin “immediately fell in love with the guitar.” Tangorra confided that everyone around noticed Justin was communicating more than ever and had become more confident since his exposure to playing music. Justin’s father bought him a guitar so he could continue practicing, then called Tangorra and asked if Justin could play a song on guitar for him and Paging Grace.

Tangorra had the perfect idea: the next Rock Out Autism show was coming up and  he invited Justin to play with Paging Grace on stage in front of hundreds of people. It was a success; the band honored Justin as the first recipient of their annual “Rock Star of the Year” award. “For a child with autism to get up on stage and play to a full bar [audience], that’s like Madison Square Garden,” Tangorra noted with pride. Justin is scheduled to play one of the opening songs with Paging Grace at this year’s show on April 28.

Throughout the year, the organization plans and holds smaller fundraisers to help its main fundraiser, the annual Nutty Irishman show. Tangorra and Cardino donate much of their free time to help guide high school and college committees with talent shows, merchandise sales, and charity contributions to benefit Rock Out Autism, including:

Bethpage High School: Nick Tangorra, Katlyn Mahomar, Nikki Grover, Melissa Monten, Maria Amaya, Nina Gonzalez, Gina Galletti, Nick Whelan, Stephanie Shamah, Casey Caruso, Sydney Gilbert, Noelle Grassel, Kimberly Cosgrove, and Roberto Sandoval.

Saint Anthony’s: Theresa Froehlich, Bryan Hingerton, Kelli Hingerton, Kieran Carney, and Briana Barton.

Saint Dominic: Lauren Danna

Saint John’s: Brian Sullivan

Kellenberg: Stephanie Smith and Ryan McQuade

Cold Spring Harbor High School: Sonja Wojcik and Olivia Calabretta

This year’s all ages show, Rock Out Autism, will be held on Saturday, April 28 at the Nutty Irishman at 323 Main Street in Farmingdale from 2 p.m. Advance tickets are $10; door tickets are $15. For show tickets or more information visit

The 2012 Rock Out Autism Line Up

Nick Tangorra

Nick Tangorra, Rafe’s brother, began singing and acting at the age of 4 and performed in numerous community theater musicals including rock operas such as The Who’s Tommy, and Jesus Christ Superstar. He is currently back on Long Island after a year and half long boy band project involving Simon Fuller (creator of American Idol), Perez Hilton (celebrity blogger), and Jamie King (Madonna’s and Britney Spears’ tour director).

While in Los Angeles, Tangorra got the opportunity to write with some of the industry’s greatest writers, such as Toby Gad (If I Were a Boy – Beyonce), Steve Kipner (Breakeven –The Script), Lindy Robbins (Skyscraper – Demi Lovato) and Jon Asher (Loud – Stan Walker). Tangorra decided to bring back his talent to Long Island as he currently is writing and recording his solo album due out this summer with producer DJ Nemysis.

Beginning Sunday, May 6 at 8 p.m. on MSG Varsity, the audience will have the opportunity to cast their votes for Tangorra. He hopes to bring home the gold for Bethpage.

Head Games

Head Games, a Foreigner cover band, is made up of five seasoned musicians from the New York City area who shares a common love for hard rocking music.

They bring together all the same elements that made Foreigner so hugely successful during their long and illustrious career. Each member brings a rich history of local success from many different local bands.

Head Games performs with the same diverse musical and visual intensity of the original rock band. From rockers like Hotblooded and Dirty White Boy, to tender ballads like Waiting For a Girl Like You and I Want to Know What Love Is, Head Games delivers the goods, and with style. They regularly play casinos and festivals from New York City to California, and from Maine to islands like Trinidad and Tobago.

With Mike Ledesma on lead vocals, Sean Tarr on guitar, Joe Scarangella on bass, Mike Dagostino on drums, and Rich Forman on keyboards, their tribute to the legendary rock band can only be experienced in their power-packed live shows.

The Walking Tree

The Walking Tree began in mid-2009 when Warren Trunz and Raffi Froundjian decided to start writing music together. About a year later, Kevin Trunz joined the band and soon after, Michel DiVittorio came on board.

Growing up they were all very into the hardcore music scene, playing in different bands heavily influenced by Life In Your Way, Underoath, and Hopesfall.

Trunz said, “As The Walking Tree came together our hardcore influences still remained, yet we did not want to be forced into any sort of genre so we started to write off of whatever came to us. The songs all in some way or another are about forgiveness, and transformation. Our EP Glorious is the result of what happened.”

“The Walking Tree exists to worship God with our lives; our desire is to share the reality of the gospel with all we encounter,” added Froundjian. “We want to live our lives for the eternal, and follow the Holy Spirit wherever He leads; we have fallen deeply in love with Jesus, and have found hope and joy in a world that is so filled with darkness.”

Trish Torrales

Trish Torrales, 18, often looks like your average teenage girl from Long Island, but on stage she gets lost in the music. So far, Torrales has had an exciting music career, from coming in second place in the first annual MSG Varsity Talent Show that aired on television last May or winning in the songwriting category for Rockville Centre’s Respect Life Contest with her song Measure Of Love. She most recently won Rising Star honors at Got Talent Long Island.

Torrales’ soothing sound has been described as having a bluesy yet soulful feel, with a tad of “rock” by many of her followers. She has been performing all over Long Island with different genres of music. Bands such as the Como Brothers love having her sing alongside at their own gigs. She is also part of her own band, with cousin Nick Vasiliades, Keep it Simple, where the pair have performed in Malverne for the Roctober 2 show, as well as the Rock Out Autism pre-show.

As for now, the singer is in the middle of writing songs for her new EP, which is being released soon.

Paging Grace

An emotionally charged band has surfaced in a period where so many are struggling to find a sound of their own. Paging Grace, the crowd-pleasing, Long Island quintet of Chris Trentacoste, Phil Firetog, Rafe Tangorra, Sam Trestman, and Will Ahrens have been winning over the industry’s toughest critics and fans alike since their first EP All You’re Made Of was released in 2007.

Now, with their 2011 release of Take Back Your Freedom, the band continues to add to its wide demographic of fans. Paging Grace reflects lead singer Trentacoste’s belief that even after death, his connection with his grandmother continues and is only strengthened through his music.

Voted “Best Band” by the Long Island Press (2008, 2009), Paging Grace has captivated fans with their intense stage performance and anthem-like songwriting. Their debut EP All You’re Made Of saw more than 5,000 digital copies sold. The album’s single “Leave” impacted radio in January 2008 in the Hot Adult Contemporary genre and was statistically well received in the Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York markets. Soon after, the band was awarded “Hot AC Most Added New Artist” and reached No.1 on the Independent Music Network.

For their follow-up release, the band enlisted producer Mike Watts (Brand New, Adalita’s Way). The EP features new songs, such as the power ballad “Take Back Your Freedom.” Originally penned about Trentacoste’s mother during her battle with breast cancer, the song became a political anthem after it was performed at the 2008 Presidential Debate Rally in New York.

Paging Grace has garnered much attention because of their music and its ability to speak to listeners on so many different levels. With their loyal, ever-growing fan base and immense Web presence (listed Top 10 artist in New York by Myspace, Top 3 by AOL City Guide), there has been unfathomably quick success for Paging Grace. Now they are paging the rest of the world to discover what everyone has fallen in love with.

Paging Grace is involved with several humanitarian societies and charities as part of the “Paging Grace Cares Campaign.”


Founded in 2011, Homebound is a group of talented young musicians from the ages of 15-16 from Long Island. This five-piece band has a unique sound of blending progressive rock and alternative music. Writing their own music and lyrics Homebound is currently recording their first EP, with a release date in late spring 2012. Their energetic stage presence and catchy songs will keep you entertained.