NYC custom gets an Ole Brook flavor

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Scafidel family and the Downtown Music Academy are bringing a little extra class to downtown Brookhaven Friday.

Blake Scafidel, a Brookhaven musician, has been playing piano all of his life. On Friday at noon, he’ll be performing again outside of DMA, where is wife Carrene teaches piano.

“I love entertaining a crowd,” Scafidel said. “I love sharing my gift.”

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Scafidel, favoring the convenience and flexibility of a keyboard, said his piano hasn’t gotten much use in recent years. But it’s a piano with a lot of history — a family instrument.

“We’ve had it for 25 years,” Scafidel said. “All of our family has at some point learned piano on it.”

Originally, Scafidel said the family was considering selling the instrument, but another idea had been on his mind for awhile following one visit to New York City.

“They had some really amazing street pianos everywhere,” Scafidel said. “I knew Brookhaven didn’t have anything like this. You’ll see those in larger cities.”

Dozens of vibrant, hand-painted street pianos are placed around New York City every summer by Sing for Hope, a NYC-based non-profit. Scafidel said the experience inspired an idea in him — always brewing in the back of his mind — to bring a little of that back to Brookhaven.

“This is our hometown,” Scafidel said. “I love Brookhaven.”

Scafidel said the street piano is one way for him to contribute to the music scene for the city he loves. Partnering with DMA gave Scafidel the opportunity to make his idea happen, but he also sees potential in the piano for other local businesses downtown.

“If businesses want to on the lunch hour, I can roll it down the sidewalk and do music,” Scafidel said.

These days, Scafidel spends most of his time playing the keyboard, where he has more control over the sound.

“They’re two different things,” Scafidel said. “A keyboard is always in tune. These pianos over time take on their own character.”

Adding to the character of Scafidel’s upcoming street piano is a custom paint job by Don Jacobs, a Brookhaven-native artist and musician.

“I’m a big Elton John fan,” Scafidel said. “I told Don I wanted a rocket man theme. He went with it and came up with a real unique design of it.”

Scafidel said the piano would be stored at the DMA for a few weeks, and there would be an opportunity for the community to play it, just like the pianos in NYC.