August 21, 2019

Pianist Tom McDermott Performs Community Concert Today to Raise Awareness of Couple in Sanctuary at Old Lyme Church; Pizza Dinner Follows

Tom McDermott

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL) has announced that Tom McDermott, the New Orleans piano virtuoso, and his friend, the award-winning New Orleans author, Tom Piazza, will perform a public concert in the Sheffield Auditorium at 5 p.m., Saturday, April 7, in the FCCOL Meetinghouse, to call attention to the plight of Malik Naveed bin Rehman and Zahida Altaf, the New Britain couple who recently sought sanctuary at FCCOL.

The concert – an evening of songs and stories design to raise awareness and community support – is open to everyone.  Admission is free, but donations will be welcomed. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m., seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

The concert will be followed by a homemade pizza dinner in the Fellowship Hall, prepared by the New Britain couple in sanctuary, who are also the owners of the popular Pizza Corner restaurant on Broad Street in New Britain.  Admission to the dinner is $10.  All proceeds from the evening will go towards assisting the couple’s efforts to achieve a stay of deportation.

McDermott is an internationally recognized pianist and composer, and a fixture in the world of New Orleans music.  His work was featured in the HBO series “Treme” – where he played himself several times throughout the series.  He has released 17 albums, including 90 original songs – in styles ranging from jazz to Brazilian choro, to ragtime, to swing, to classical compositions. 

He has played Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, most states in America and a couple dozen countries abroad.  He’s been reviewed a half-dozen times by the “New York Times,” as well as the “Wall Street Journal,” “Rolling Stone” and other media; and has lectured at Harvard on New Orleans, American music and his unique house.

In announcing McDermott’s return to Old Lyme, FCCOL Senior Minister Steven Jungkeit said, “To say Tom is talented is an absurd understatement:  He can play anything, with verve, with wit, and a deep knowledge of the musical tributaries that he navigates throughout his performances.”

Piazza is a celebrated writer on American music. His 12 books include the novels, “A Free State” and “City of Refuge”; the post-Katrina manifesto, “Why New Orleans Matters”; and “Devil Sent the Rain,” a collection of his essays and journalism. He was a principal writer for the HBO series “Treme” and became a Grammy Award winner for his album notes to “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: A Musical Journey.” In 2015, he received the prestigious Louisiana Writer Award, given by the State Library of Louisiana and the Louisiana Center for the Book. His work has appeared in the “New York Times,” “The Atlantic,” “Bookforum,” “The Oxford American,” “Columbia Journalism Review” and many other periodicals.


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