Local Brings Back The ‘90s

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The 1990s were known for many things: flannel shirts, floppy hair, Beanie Babies, dial-up Internet and some great music.

The 90’s Band is a cover band that seeks to recapture the music of that bygone-yet-still-fondly remembered era, thought by some as the last “cool” decade before reality singing shows and auto tune took over popular music. Formed a year ago and consisting of four very different individuals—Phil Smith of Carle Place, Luke Lagrega of Levittown, Christina Rinaldo of Plainview and Bobby Donhehy of Northport—The 90’s Band has made a name for themselves very quickly in the Long Island music scene.

The 90’s Band will be playing Mulcahy’s in Wantagh every Friday night throughout January. (Photo courtesy of The 90’s Band Facebook page)
The 90’s Band will be playing Mulcahy’s in Wantagh every Friday night throughout January.
(Photo by Liz Degen)

Smith, lead singer and guitarist, said that he’s been making music his whole life in all kinds of different bands; however, with The 90’s Band, he noted that he and his bandmates get to play music that hits especially close to home for all of them.

“We all grew up with this kind of music, and the first songs we learned how to play were these songs,” he said. “Another reason is that the timing is good…the 90s are recent enough for some of the younger kids who are in college to have a themed 90s night, and it’s definitely a throwback for the 30-40 year-old crowd to get out of the house and see some live 90s music.”

The average set list at one of their shows is eclectic to say the least; ranging from pop-oriented fare such as Britney Spears, No Doubt and The Spice Girls to the grungier sounds of Bush, Green Day, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots, The 90’s Band covers all the musical bases when it comes to evoking 1990’s nostalgia.

Lagrega, a lifelong musician, serves as the band’s drummer while maintaining a job in the construction field as his day gig. He said that while dreams of rock superstardom aren’t very realistic, he envisions a day when he can make a living solely from creating music, and to that end, the band hones their sound with regular rehearsals at The A Room, a serious practice studio located in the twisting back alleyways of Hicksville.

“I’ve been playing since I was a little kid and I’ve been playing in bands since I was in high school, music is really in my blood,” Lagrega said. “As far as The 90’s Band goes, the music speaks for itself. People should come on down to a show and check us out and make up their own minds, but if you love 90s music, you won’t be disappointed.”

The 90’s Band recently hit a milestone in their professional careers, at least as far as a band still within their first year of existence goes. In addition to being featured in a variety of well-known local venues, Smith said that they have also been offered a weekly residency throughout January at Mulcahys Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh, one of the best-known live music venues in all of Long Island.

“Mulcahys is doing a 90s theme night every Friday in January, and we’ll be there every week…before that, we were playing there about once a month,” he said. “When we first started out our goal was to get a residency somewhere, and now we have it at Mulcahys…we’d love to play there every week year-round, and hopefully that will happen one day.”

Bobby Donhehy, Luke Lagrega, Christina Rinaldo and Phil Smith
Bobby Donhehy, Luke Lagrega, Christina Rinaldo and Phil Smith

Rinaldo is the band’s energetic co-lead vocalist, and said she has been singing since she could talk, as well as writing her own lyrics since the age of five. With an extensive history in community theater and song, she was formally in a No Doubt cover band with Donhehy, the band’s bassist, and is currently working with a producer on a rock/pop-oriented solo album on the side. In the meantime, she said that she gets a huge thrill every time she steps out on-stage with her 90’s Band cohorts, playing the music that they all love.

“I’ve always had a thing for 90’s music…to me, personally, it’s one of the last great eras of music before the whole scene changed…when I go out, that’s the music I want to hear, I want to be singing it,” Rinaldo said. “To play Mulcahys is a big deal to me, because I used to go there when I went to college to see other bands there, and to be up on that stage now…wow. And we always try and put on the best show that we can…it’s the gig that makes me feel the most legit, but every gig counts.”

Smith attributes the rapid ascent of The 90’s Band to a number of factors, including marketing savvy and a strong social media presence. However, the main driving factor behind their early success is simply because they work hard to be good at what they do…namely, making music.

“Marketing helps so much, but first and foremost, we want to be known for doing the music justice,” he said. “When we first got together, we weren’t in a rush to get our fist gig…first, we rehearsed every day, 2-3 hours a day, for months, and as a result we’re known for playing really well. For all the networking that I do, I’ve never once picked up the phone and gotten us a gig, and we’ve been busy. People think enough of us to pass our names around and the offers are coming to us.”

To find out more, visit The 90’s Band’s Facebook page at facebook.com/the90sbandny.

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