On Saturday, April 2, the Gold Coast Arts Center and Love Revolution Org’s search for the next big music star came to its thrilling conclusion as the fourth annual Your Big Break contest crowned singer-songwriter Matt Grabowski this year’s winner. Having brought some of the best talent New York and Long Island have to offer to the forefront, performances by Grabowski along with remaining finalists Jaclyn Manfredi and the Frankel Sisters were crafted with the help of music industry mentors- singer/songwriter Ryan Star (paired with Manfredi) and John Hampson of Nine Days (paired with the Frankel Sisters), along with songwriter/producer Ido Zmishlany (paired with Grabowski).
Grabowski has been performing at bars and restaurants for two years and has an EP out with “Bring the Rains Down” available via iTunes. With influences ranging from Harry Chapin to Hozier, his natural sound and excellent guitar playing were big factors in his powerful final performances. One of his crowd-pleasing compositions, “The Fiddler,” incorporated the image of a Fiddler on the Roof.
In tribute to two legendary singer-songwriters, David Bowie and Glenn Frey of The Eagles, each contestant had to incorporate a Bowie song and an Eagles song into their performance. With help from their mentors, each was able to use their own style and knowledge of their craft to make the performances their own.
The judges for the competition included Neil Rubenstein, the manager of The Emporium music venue in Patchogue, Chris Pati of IndiMusic TV, Lou Plaia from Reverbnation.com, Guy Brogna from All Music Inc., and Jerry Lembo, a music industry consultant who has worked with Grammy Award-Winning entertainers. Some of the prizes Grabowski was awarded, besides the bragging rights of being the “Next Big Thing” out of Long Island, include opening up for a national act at The Emporium, recording time at IndiMusic Studios, a feature on Reverbnation.com, musical equipment from All Music Inc. and ZOOM North America, and PR and social media campaigns from the Rick Eberle Agency.
The Arts Center is transformed into the Gold Coast Acoustic Café once a month, a music venue that showcases local up-and-coming talent as well as established music acts. With its black box theater performance space and a lounge in the art gallery, the Gold Coast Acoustic Café is one of the few small music venues around which makes for a special and intimate atmosphere for artists and audience alike, especially during Your Big Break, a competition whose past winners have included semifinals headliners Youth Be Told and Katie Zimmer, round two headliner Annika, as well as finalists SEE and Zofolk who have gone on to work with major producers, managers and agents.