Keeping Up Community Spirits – Mary Dyer Band Recognized


Receiving the certificate from State Senator Anthony Portantino are Sunday night band members (from left) Steve Fekete, Bill Cinque, Mandy Williams, Anthony Portantino, John Berrafato (behind Anthony Portantino), Dave Blasucci and behind Dave Blasucci is Chris Ralles.
Photos by Robin GOLDSWORTHY


It started with a walk around the block for David Blasucci and Mandy Williams. The local residents and musicians, like just about everyone else during the early days of the pandemic, kept away from friends and neighbors as they grappled with the uncertainty of COVID-19. But even a pandemic couldn’t keep the couple down and they began performing for friends via social media.

“We would have weekly performances [broadcast on social media] from the living room of our house,” Williams recalled.

The pandemic dragged on and during one of their walks they saw another band playing from its driveway. The pair decided to offer a similar kind of “concrete concert.”

They reached out to some of their friends who were also musicians, inviting them to play, then went on social media to alert friends, family and followers of their upcoming outdoor concert.

Initially between 30 and 40 people showed up, Williams said. That show went well and so the pair invited musician friends to join them as they planned to play more concerts.

“We just wanted to keep playing,” said Blasucci. “We initially did this just for ourselves and our friends.”

But the community – including their neighbors – got behind the venture.

“It’s really amazing,” he said of the support they received adding that there was “never any trouble” as the crowds grew. “I really give credit to the community.”

Eventually the musicians named themselves the Mary Dyer Band because Williams and Blasucci live at the junction of Mary and Dyer streets in La Crescenta. Musicians included guitarist Blasucci, vocalist Williams, drummer and vocalist Chris Ralles, bassist and vocalist Bill Cinque, keyboardist and vocalist John Berrafato and guitarist and vocalist Steve Fekete. Not all members played every week, though. As the restrictions surrounding the pandemic loosened, these talented musicians were called to other duties. For example, Williams is an award winning audio book narrator and Disney performing artist and was called away for about six weeks. Tours pulled away some of the others. Ralles has worked with Pat Benatar and Don Felder, and Cinque has worked with Neil Diamond.

Despite a varying lineup of professional musicians, the Saturday night street concerts continued for about 19 months with very few cancellations. People would come with folding chairs and, in the winter months, wearing coats; in the summer, shorts and sandals. But regardless of the weather many of the attendees could be found dancing in the street as the Mary Dyer Band played favorites. The size of the crowds increased – numbering between 300 and 400 – and Los Gringos Locos set up shop making it easy to grab something to eat while watching the neighborhood favorite band. Community Life Church, which has an entrance on Mary Street, was generous in allowing fans to park in their lot. A local dance group set up a dance floor and even a disco ball on the south side of Mary Street. Despite the high numbers, no one was unruly or disrespectful.

“Everyone was very mindful,” Blasucci said. “People cleaned up their trash. The community was great.”

As December 2021 drew near and more venues reopened, Blasucci and Williams decided to end the street concerts.

“It was getting freezing cold and we wanted to go out on top,” Blasucci said. “We felt we had met our purpose.”

But even though the weekly street concerts had ended, the Mary Dyer Band did not. They play regularly at the Crow’s Nest Sports Grille in Tujunga and for private parties. They were booked as the main entertainment at the Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza by CV Fireworks where they caught the attention of City of Glendale Mayor Ardy Kassakhian. When Kassakhian learned how the band kept up the spirits of the community by playing throughout the pandemic, he wanted to publicly recognize them.

From left Dave Blasucci, Mayor Ardy Kassakhian and Mandy Williams.

On Sunday night during a special outdoor street concert, Mayor Kassakhian presented the band with a commendation for their efforts. A crowd of about 350 people, many in Halloween costumes, was on hand for the presentation. Following the mayor’s presentation, State Senator Anthony Portantino took the mic and also presented a commendation from his office.

The presentations meant a lot to the group, said Blasucci.

“The recognition was really special for us and for the community,” he said.