On April 2, Finley’s of Greene Street in Huntington, NY was treated to a performance by Long Island based band Cousin Fungus. The bar was packed and the dance floor full as Cousin Fungus took the stage after the cover band Run for Covers.
All the way in the back of the bar with an open overhead garage door, the stage set-up at Finley’s made it feel as though Cousin Fungus was performing in their own driveway. As the music started the crowd edged its way forward toward the long-time devotees already lining the front of the stage. The set list consisted of fan favorites Other People, Earth Turns, and Find Your Pipe along with unique jam style cover versions of the Traffic instrumental Glad and Grand Funk Railroad’s I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home.) The first song, Fanfare for the Common Man, was played in homage to the late Keith Emerson from the Emerson Lake and Palmer Band and two new original songs. Birthday was introduced following a special celebratory birthday shout-out to a fan and the show closed with their latest and greatest, Caravan.
Throughout the show heads bobbed and the dancing intensified with each crescendo. It was evident that the band was feeding off the effervescent energy of the crowd. Dennis sang with style as he passionately pounded the keys and Henry and Thomas grooved to the music flowing from their guitar and bass. Although Chris was hidden behind his drum kit at the back of the stage, his ever present and integral beats were “visible” during each and every song. The boys were in constant communication with each other as they flowed from song to song with smiles on their faces!
Customers come to Finley’s for fun and fellowship, and of course its large selection of craft beers. Cousin Fungus fans come from near and far to hear amazing music with great friends. This particular night the crowd got it all – Finley’s definitely delivered as promised!
*Who is Cousin Fungus??
A Long Island based band that hails from Port Washington, NY the journey of Cousin Fungus began in the early 90’s as a Phish cover band called Stash. Made up of brothers Henry, Christian, and Thomas Stanziale on guitar, bass, and drums respectively, along with friends Gary Menkes on keys and Billy Zweirlein on vocals their first performance took place in the summer of 1993 and they continued to play weekly in Port Washington. In the fall of 1993, Dennis Belline made an appearance with the band on keys, and when Gary moved off of Long Island Dennis became an official member. The band played all throughout the Northeast building a fan base now spreading from Long Island to Syracuse, NY. In late 1996 they debuted their first original song Rejhi and by the summer of 1997 they were playing mainly original songs. In April 1997, while performing at Hungry Charlie’s near Syracuse University the band was surprised when Jon Fishman walked into the bar. They invited him to the stage where he jammed out with them for the Phish classics Wilson, Funky Bitch, Rocky Top, NICU, and Slave to the Traffic Light. He returned to the stage for the encore drumming to Stash’s rendition of Derek and the Dominos Love So Sad. In October 1997, as the band focus moved toward solely original songs Stash changed its name to St. Ash. In March 1998 Billy Zwerlein left St. Ash and in May 1998 with Dennis now on lead vocals they renamed themselves Cousin Fungus, after a lyric from the song Low Tide High, and recorded their first album Thoughts of a Moth, which was released in the fall of 1998.
The fan base continued to grow throughout the Northeast and eventually expanded into the Mid-Atlantic. Cousin Fungus had intentions to get back into the recording studio in late 2000 but the album was delayed when Dennis Belline made the decision to leave the band. The Stanziale brothers continued to play as a threesome and in spring of 2001 Mike Sanchez joined Cousin Fungus on guitar and vocals. In 2002 they hit the studio with Mike to record Share the Air, which was released in December of the same year. In 2003 Cousin Fungus welcomed new keyboardist, Mike Sydor, and two months later Mike Sanchez moved on in his pursuits. They continued their musical career as a 4-piece band until their last show together in December 2004.
Since 2005, with over a decade of performing, the original members of the band reconnected for surprise shows all over Long Island. Thomas, Henry, Chris, and Dennis revived Cousin Fungus in 2012 when they returned to the Long Island music scene playing sporadic shows throughout the year. Cousin Fungus has been exciting its loyal fan base with more regular performances in the last 3 years, even performing at private parties. To the delight of fans, Billy has made a few surprise appearances on vocals.
Since 2012 Cousin Fungus has performed all over Long Island…and beyond. The band is hard at work writing original songs to add to its repertoire and new shows are announced every few months.
Cousin Fungus never lets down its fans. Friends and family can be seen at every show and a new generation of fans is evolving, to include the children of each band member! As the Cousin Fungus family continues to grow, old and new fans alike can be found dancing and singing along to each and every song. Definitely take a listen to Thoughts of a Moth and Share the Air and be sure to check the CF Facebook page for show announcements. Get out to a local show and experience all that is Cousin Fungus – you won’t regret it!
Set List – CF Finley’s Greene Street 4/2/16 :
Fanfare, Photo’s, Other People, Glad, Find Your Pipe, Birthday, I’m Your Captain (Closer to home), Caravan
Full Show Audio: Recorded by Patrick Kelly.
EARTH TURNS: Video Recorded by Henry Stanziale
GLAD: Video Recorded by Henry Stanziale