Who We Are
The NYC Freaks is a community of live music fans formed in 2000. Over the years, the Freaks have cultivated a philanthropic spirit, raising thousands of dollars through concerts, auctions and other endeavors with the goal to give back to the community that has provided so much joy to us.
Along the way, we discovered that the existing safety net does not always completely cover those in need in our live music community. We realized we could be doing more to give back. In that spirit, we created the Freaks Action Network, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity.
Freaks Action Network harnesses the power, energy and creativity of live music to generate resources and provide tangible support to those in need in our community and beyond. We share our strengths and love of music to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Aaron Stein conservatively claims to *only* see about five concerts per week, but anyone who knows Aaron would guess that number is closer to an average of five concerts per night.
His torrid love affair with live music began in 1989, when he saw the Rolling Stones at the Carrier Dome in his hometown of Syracuse…but things really kicked into high gear on March 14, 1992. Aaron had come to the New York area to see the Grateful Dead at Nassau Coliseum, but the night before, he’d learned that Phish was playing at Roseland Ballroom. He bought a ticket and had a great time during his first of many Phish shows. It was also his first ever concert in New York City, and after the show, when he spoke to someone who had just seen the Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theater, he realized that the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band, and Phish were all in town at the same time. In young Aaron’s mind, this realization crystallized the concept of New York City as a live music mecca, a notion that forever changed the mindset of Aaron and the many people who’ve subsequently befriended him.
There once was a time when Aaron was known for his orange Syracuse cap, but these days, Aaron is known as an ardent supporter of live music, consistently uncovering new live bands and tirelessly curating a weekly list of noteworthy concerts in the New York City area. While he may double, triple, and quadruple stack concerts in one night, his days are spent working in a nanoscience laboratory near his Huntington, Long Island home.
Don’t bother asking Aaron to pick a favorite live band, but he would love the chance to see Elton John someday, and he’s hoping to catch Grave Flowers Bongo Band for the first time this year. If you’ve never heard of that group, it’s only because sharing new and emerging musical acts is one of Aaron’s many passions. He considers himself lucky to live in the “live music capital of the universe,” and FAN enables him to capture what’s great about our live music community, giving back to those who aren’t quite as lucky and are in need of our help.
Inspiration often arrives in unexpected places, and for Queens native Andy Hollander, that inspiration arrived at SPAC during a July 1991 Steve Miller concert.
Andy went to the show on a camp trip for counselors-in-training (CITs). The future camp counselor and his friend and future famous weatherman Lloyd were able to wander off unchaperoned and just became part of the crowd. The joy on the lawn was electric. Everyone was excited to be there. People sang along to every song. Young Andy Hollander suddenly understood the high that comes from experiencing music with other people, and he wanted more.
These days, the devoted guitarist and vinyl enthusiast devours two-to-three concerts per week, counting Phish as his favorite band, Stevie Wonder as the top act on his bucket list, and Rage Against the Machine as the act he’s most eager to experience for the first time in 2022.
When he’s not devouring live music, this gourmand can be found sinking his teeth into pastrami, sushi, or ramen. Andy’s days begin with a cup or three of coffee that he roasts himself, followed by logging time in the finance administration for the NYC Department of Education.
He loves New York City because of its diversity and the opportunities the city presents to always find something new. Of course, volunteering with FAN gives him a way to contribute to a good cause under the umbrella of his beloved live music community.
Many live music fanatics have their “eureka” moment while attending a concert, but Bob Feldman first “got” live music while playing the drums in an elementary school band performance.
However, his life was really changed during a series of three concerts at Madison Square Garden in late 1978 and early 1979. Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and the Grateful Dead formed this influential trifecta, as the pure bliss of music transformed into sheer euphoria in a live setting. The energy inside the hallowed arena was overwhelming, and as Bob says, “The only thing unusual about these shows was that the roof didn’t come off the Garden.” From that point on, he had an insatiable craving to experience live music that continues to this day, often catching up to three concerts per week.
Regrets? Bob has a few, and their names are Queen, The Doors, and Led Zeppelin, all bands he missed in their heyday. These days, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is his favorite live act, and if you ask him what new band he’s looking forward to seeing, this open minded soul will respond by tagging along to whatever show you recommend, preferably pregaming with a beloved meal of “worthy pasta.”
A resident of North Woodmere, Long Island, he can typically be found working on commercial real estate development, playing tennis, or chilling with his wife, Amie, and his Cavapoo, Louie. Bob loves New York City for its abundant energy, its eccentric people, and its general “can-do” attitude.
Bob feels so good when he gets to do good, so his volunteering for FAN is an embodiment of the “givers get” principle. He simply feels grateful for his place in life, and FAN allows him to show his appreciation and give back to others.
Hailing from East Meadow, Long Island but now a longtime resident of Manhattan, David Kerstein finally “got” live music at the ripe old age of 22.
It was a sunny July 1, 1994 day at Philadelphia’s Mann Music Center when Phish took the stage and blew him away, particularly their rendition of “Harry Hood.” This thrilling concert immediately caused David to become a self-professed “Phish junkie,” as he had never seen or heard anything like that before, and his intense fandom has never wavered since.
While he processed this life-altering experience in Philadelphia over a post-show cheesesteak, nowadays, you’re more likely to find him digging into a bowl of wonton soup. Food is certainly important to a man whose favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.
Billy Joel’s iconic album, The Stranger is near and dear to his heart, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are the last act remaining on his live bucket list, and this year, he hopes to see Orebolo live for the first time.
Working in finance and living in Manhattan, he loves the unparalleled energy of New York City, regularly catching two or three concerts weekly. Volunteering for FAN is a no-brainer because it enables David to give back to the community that brings him so much joy and love.
Born in Jamaica, Queens but “raised in the swamps of Jersey,” Jeff Gorlechen experienced a night like none other on February 26, 1991.
After driving to the Hershey Arena with his college buddies, fueled by little else but Cheddar Pretzel Combos, Jeff and his fellow Penn State pals proceeded to wait outside for six hours on a bracingly cold day. Why on Earth would they do that? Well, if you wanted to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse at a general admission show, you had to be willing to make a sacrifice. And that sacrifice was worth it because the concert was simply “incredible.” Neil Young was shredding, using volume as an instrument while the feedback-laden jamming from Crazy Horse was on an “insane” level that Jeff had never experienced at that point in any of his 40+ Grateful Dead shows or twelve Bruce Springsteen concerts.
During an enthralling rendition of “Like a Hurricane,” Jeff had an out-of-body experience, watching himself watch the band. That feeling set him off on a quest to see as much great live music as possible, and these days, he tries to fulfill that mission by averaging four concerts per week. Phish, Bruce Springsteen, Reverend Vince Anderson, Wayne Krantz, and naturally, Neil Young are among his favorite live acts, but don’t ask him to pick just one.
If he had a time machine, Jeff would enable himself to see the Beatles play. Otherwise, he has no bucket list because he’s seen just about everyone he’s wanted to see, but he is interested in catching Goose for the first time.
After having founded Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery and building it over the course of twelve years, Jeff created his own company to run events and public relations for the food, beverage, and music industries in his beloved New York City, where he’s consistently enamored with the many different colors of people, the amazing food, and of course, the unparalleled live music scene.
His career dovetails perfectly with volunteering for FAN because with all the effort Jeff puts into seeing live music and building events, it made sense to marry the two together, and FAN gives him a great outlet to do some good while doing what he loves.
Jen Meyerhardt was born in St. Louis, MO and raised in New Canaan, CT, where the lack of a local live music scene forced her to either sneak into New York City dance clubs or pretend to be sleeping over a friend’s house while heading to Grateful Dead shows in the Northeast.
The Dead’s stellar performance at Alpine Valley in the summer of 1984 propelled her to devote a couple of summers to chasing the band cross-country, causing Jen to fall in love with the jamband scene. That love affair was forever solidified by a wild 1991 Bill Graham Telluride Midsummer Music Fest late night show at the Sheridan Opera House, featuring members of the Allman Brothers Band, Blues Traveler, and Widespread Panic. In the right place at the right time for this unexpected event, Jen was living in Telluride, taking a year off between college and the NYU School of Law, while waitressing at the Floradora Saloon. All of these concerts and the vibrant community they attracted were the soul food she needed to fuel her time through law school and a stint in Silicon Valley.
These days, Jen lives in Nyack, practicing law and advising several entities who champion social justice issues, music-related causes, and community-building endeavors. Along those lines, she serves on the Board of Directors for Feminist.com and is the Vice President of the Gerald L. Lennard Foundation.
Without a doubt, her favorite album is Joni Mitchell’s Blue, she somehow has the time to attend an average of three live concerts per week, and she’s most looking forward to seeing Neal Francis for the first time in 2022.
This self-described “bad Jew” loves to celebrate Christmas with her family, and her favorite food, tequila. Ultimately, Jen loves volunteering for FAN because assisting the community that sustains her sanity and surrounds her with like-minded and amazing people helps satisfy her need to give back.
Westchester native Joshua Roth experienced an epiphany at the age of 15.
The forecast called for rain on August 15, 1991, but overcast skies and an 80-degree temperature ruled the day as Josh took the train and subway to New York City’s Central Park for Paul Simon’s “Concert In the Park.” After navigating about 3/4 of the way toward the stage, Josh stood on a cooler with his best friend in the midst of the largest crowd he’d ever witnessed. The show and the music were incredible. Seeing Paul Simon’s music come to life in real-time, backed by a huge band, surrounded by what seemed like a million people in Central Park, was simply unforgettable.
These days, Josh helps to curate a healthy life for pets and their parents. He counts Neil Young as his favorite live artist, is holding out hope for a Talking Heads reunion, and yearns to see Kikagaku Moyo for the first time in 2022.
Josh loves New York City because, on any given night, you can have the best meal you’ve ever had and see some of the greatest music you’ve ever seen. And then you can do the same thing a few days later and have an even better meal and see even greater music. He considers it an amazing gift to be able to volunteer with people he loves in FAN, making real change in the world and people’s lives.
By the Fall of 1979, Ossining native Phyllis Koyner had been longing to see the Grateful Dead live for quite some time, but her high school friends were all outside of that circle…or so she thought.
One night, while working as a cashier at the A&P, she was surprised when friends arrived to inform her that she would be joining them in seeing the Dead at Madison Square Garden on September 6th. It was a gorgeous, warm day when Phyllis and her krewe arrived at MSG with an extra ticket in tow. In the midst of swarms of hippies with fingers in the air, she made eye contact with one lucky stranger, selling him the ticket for a whopping $15. The stranger immediately gave her a massive hug right there on the street, and she knew she was home.
Phyllis had seen live concerts before, but somehow, she always knew that this was the one she needed. These were her people. This was her tribe. Everyone in the crowd was coming together, excited, happy, and overflowing with energy. The Grateful Dead community felt like a family with everyone being in on the same secret. These fans– these deadheads were different from other concertgoers. They were just happier. Plenty of things were passed around in that show…including flowers! “Where else does that happen?!” she wondered. It was also a strange concert because the house lights remained on for most of the first set. Supposedly, Jerry Garcia had received a death threat that evening, but undeterred, the first number he sang was “Dire Wolf” with its refrain, “Don’t murder me…” The night ended with a walk to Grand Central Station, where she and her friends promptly missed their train by mere seconds. They had a full hour to wait, so they bounced back out into the streets for pizza and beer, just making it back in time to catch that final train to Ossining, putting a cap on the first of nearly 300 Dead shows for Phyllis.
These days, she’s sure to see an average of one-to-two musical events per week, but don’t ask her to pick a favorite band. If she could move Heaven and Earth, she’d get Led Zeppelin to reunite this year, but more realistically, she’d love to see Cimafunk for the first time. Aside from concerts, she also loves partaking in all of the different arts and culture opportunities her hometown of New York City offers. To Phyllis, New York City is a place where anything goes and everyone is accepted, as you’re “free to just be.”
When she’s not selling market research and competitive intelligence for the legal industry, Phyllis can be found engaging in volunteer work centered on hunger and food insecurity issues.
The NYC-Freaks community has meant so much to her and changed her life in so many ways, so volunteering for FAN is Phyllis’ love-letter to that community, allowing her to combine two things she truly loves: volunteering and live music.
Andy Bernstein helped found HeadCount in 2004 and became its executive director in the spring of 2008. Under his stewardship, HeadCount has registered over 1,000,000 voters and become a leader in harnessing the power of music to drive social change.
Andy was one of the founders of National Voter Registration Day, and conceived the corresponding social media campaign that has involved over 500 musicians and celebrities and generated over one billion social media impressions. He also helped create “Participation Row,” an activism village where concert attendees have taken over 100,000 socially-conscious actions while raising nearly $1.5 million for various music-industry charities (including over $500,000 generated from the auction of one guitar signed by members of the Grateful Dead).
Andy has produced nearly a dozen benefit concerts and live music events, including 2012’s “The Bridge Session,” which paired HeadCount board member Bob Weir with members of The National for the first time. Prior to creating HeadCount, Andy was best known in the music community as an author of “The Pharmer’s Almanac”, a guide to the band Phish that sold over 70,000 copies. He also worked in sports for more than a decade, as media editor of Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal and a vice president at the sports technology company Kangaroo TV. He splits his time between New York City and a slopeside ski condo in nearby Vernon, NJ.
Scott Metzger has performed, recorded, and toured with acts including: John Mayer, Trixie Whitley, John Scofield, LaLa Brooks (of The Crystals), Phil Lesh (of The Grateful Dead), Warren Haynes, Shooter Jennings, Oteil Burbridge, Nels Cline, Marco Benevento, Anders Osborne, Amy Helm, and grammy winner Mike Farris among many others. He has performed extensively all over the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia and has performed and recorded with projects of all genres, and is a first call player in many artists, producers, & engineers phone books. Appearances include The Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), The Newport Folk Festival, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, as well as famous and historic venues worldwide: Carnegie Hall, Ancient Belgique (Brussels, Belgium), Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Blue Note New York, The Ryman Auditorium, Red Rocks Amphitheater, The Fox Theatre Oakland, and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Scott is a full time member of the critically acclaimed, increasingly popular Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. His various part time projects include the Gypsy Jazz influenced The Showdown Kids, and WOLF! (Royal Potato Family Records), an instrumental guitar trio whose music has been featured on the hit television series Z-Nation. In addition, Scott has made various appearances on national television, including appearances on Good Day New York and a featured duet with Nicole Atkins on the season 1 finale of Cameron Crowe’s Showtime series ‘Roadies.’
His overall approach is aimed at serving the integrity of the song & group while expressing his unique voice through his guitar. His style combines a lyrical, melodic sound and sensibility that shows a deep understanding of the instrument’s history, while at the same time has an edginess that is unmistakably Metzger’s own.
Metzger has been a part of the NYC Freaks community from the very beginning when he was the lead guitarist in Rana. Since then, Scott has played nearly every Freaks Ball and countless other Freaks events with all of his projects. Scott has been a true friend to the Freaks community.