A very special concert is coming to the Misquamicut Drive-In in Westerly August 5th, featuring a world-famous band who you’ve undoubtedly heard before.

The Lords of 52nd Street are comprised of leading members of Billy Joel’s band in its heyday – including Richie Cannata (sax), Liberty DeVitto (drums) and Russell Javors (guitar). They’re not a tribute band, they’re the real deal!

Opening for the Lords that night will be RI-based Dopey Lopes and the Up All Night Band, a group that’s been rocking the area since the late 80’s.

We spoke to band members and concert promoters Dopey Lopes and Stumpy Neckritz last week and learned about the Lords show as well as their own history.   

Of course, a lot has changed since the concert was organized back in February, when it was planned as a drive-in event.

Lopes gave us the update…

“We’ve modified our plans accordingly and responded with some positive changes based upon the loosened restrictions. We now offer general admission individual tickets starting at $35 with available $50 VIP reserved individual front section seating. These seats all have great sightlines to the stage and are very close to the action.”

“We still have ‘tailgate’ tickets, plus a few VIP tailgate tickets left and encourage folks who buy them to come early and set up a grill, bring the cooler and have some great outdoor fun by the beach.  Folks with individual seats will be directed to the parking area, then escorted to their seating.  We ask that everyone bring their own comfy beach or lawn chair,” continued Lopes.

The Up All Night Band is widely admired in local music circles, for their straight-ahead, high-energy sound. The current line-up has been together since the late 1990’s.  

We’ll be playing some new songs along with the tight guitar-driven high-energy rock and roll that we are known for. We don’t just stand around and play the songs like other bands, we get into the music and inspire folks to get up and dance! The band is really looking forward to our first gig since March 2020,” Lopes explained.

In addition to their own set, the band is equally excited about bringing the Lords of 52nd Street to town. Drummer Mike “Stumpy” Neckritz was inspired to play after seeing Lords drummer Liberty Devitto.

“Devitto taught me how to hit the drums,” he explained. “I was 14 and had been playing the drums for a few years, and had become a fan of Billy Joel since 1980’s Glass Houses. I loved the drumming, but at that time there wasn’t easy access to video footage like there is today where you can see what a drummer is doing.”

“Then, in 1983 Billy Joel-Live From Long Island was released on VHS. I still remember seeing the opening moments of Liberty hitting the drums for the first time…the power and passion that he put into every hit, mixed with his prowess and individual style, was key to me discovering both the drummer that I was, and that I wanted to be.”

Neckritz continued, “In late 2018, I was diving back into Liberty’s work with Billy … and I saw that The Lords Of 52nd Street (the name given to them by the legendary producer Phil Ramone) had recently reformed for their induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, and were playing the following month at a theater in Connecticut!”    

“I messaged Liberty before the show to introduce myself and to let him know that I would be introducing myself at the show. Liberty was amazingly gracious, funny, and humble, and the next thing I know their manager, Andy Gilmartin, has me up on Liberty’s kit, and now I’m talking to Liberty Devitto while sitting at his kit! If you had told that 14-year-old kid that he would be doing that at some point he never would’ve believed you!”

“The very next day I contacted Dopey and said, ‘We gotta bring these guys to Rhode Island,’ and we really began to work on it not long after that. We are extremely excited that it is finally happening!”

Lopes has put on big shows before, but this one is special.

“We’re not a big corporation doing this. Up All Night Productions is merely the band and myself producing this. It’s been a challenge to get the event produced, coming out of the pandemic – we started well before covid and have changed venues and dates a few times.”

“We’re incredibly grateful to our partners, especially the Misquamicut Business Association for their assistance.  Caswell Cooke has been extremely helpful.  He truly is ‘Mr. Westerly’.”

It promises to be a fun night of Billy Joel classics and more. Lopes suggests, “In general, get there early and plan to stay till the end! Doors at 5:30PM and the event concludes at 10:30 so you get 5 hours of fun by the beach and a number of ways to attend depending upon the size of your group and your budget. 

Click here for tickets and further details.

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.