Born and raised in Woodhaven, Greg Cerar, 31, says organizing a concert at the Forest Park Bandshell has been on his mind since the age of 6.
“I grew up two blocks from there. As a child, my father used to take me there. I would hang out on the stage with my friends. Things just developed and I’m finally able to do it,” Cerar said.
The Forest Park Rock Fest, which Cerar and its other creators hope to make an annual event, will become a reality on June 15. The free show will put a spotlight on four distinct local musical acts.
“It started as a pipe dream of Greg’s,” said Mario Robles of the band The Boom Section, which is producing the event.
The group’s drummer, Cerar originally took up the trumpet while a student at JHS 210 in Ozone Park, and continued at Francis Lewis High School. One day he thought to himself, “What am I going to do with the trumpet?” and switched over to drums, which he taught himself to play.
He and James Hayes, the group’s bass player, have been in various bands together since 2002. Guitarist Paul Wunsch, a Forest Hills native, has joined them on and off over the years.
Robles, who has been friends with Cerar since high school, responded to his buddy’s online posting for a vocalist, thus completing the group. They have been together for a year and a half, though “we’ve only been gigging for a year,” Cerar said.
After their headquarters were swept away by Hurricane Sandy, they regrouped in Howard Beach, where they have been rehearsing in the basement of Cerar’s parents’ house.
The festival arose from Sandy’s destruction.
“We wanted to do a show to give back to the community,” Robles said. “Now seemed the perfect time to do it.”
As for the group’s name, “We bring the boom, the power,” Robles said. Of their sound, he added, “You can’t say it’s subtle. It’s in the vein of AC/DC, but with modern touches.”
Another group on the June 15 bill is Still the Vizitors, a band Robles said plays “classic blues-based rock. They’re all older gentlemen. All north of 60.” They happen to include his own father-in-law, Astorian John Zahorodny, who is the group’s lead guitarist and primary song writer.
System In Chaos, a five-member hard-rock band specializing in original tunes, and Richmond Hill resident Daniel Tighe, who, according to Robles, plays “comedic anti-folk music,” offering “very funny stuff and social commentary,” round out the festival.
“I had seen him perform at a street fair some years back,” Robles said of Tighe, who will be the club’s opening act. “I loved his rapport with the audience. I reached out to him.”
With such a wide range of musical styles on the bill, one might wonder how the acts were selected.
“We’ve all played in the dark clubs,” Cerar said. “We wanted to bring the music into the light, to make it accessible to families.” He anticipates “a nice party vibe, with picnics, the carousel — people can just hang out.”
According to Robles, “We’re putting this together from the ground up. We thought about who would be good. We hope people will come out to support local artists.”
The Boom Section’s members are producing the entire show at their own expense.
“We’d like to have this as an annual event and start slapping on those Roman numerals to give other local artists a chance,” Robles said.
With no rain date scheduled, Cerar said, “If there’s a little drizzle, we’ll work around it.”
When: Saturday, June 15, 1 to 5 p.m.
Where: Forest Park Bandshell, Forest Park Drive, Woodhaven