Nearly every year for the past decade my fellow optical rockers and I have put on fundraising concerts for non-profit vision care organizations during Vision Expo week in New York. But next week’s Rockin’ for New Eyes Show, which supports New Eyes for the Needy, is the first time the event will fall on St. Patrick’s Day.

Rock ‘n’ roll shows, are, by nature, energetic and exciting. And St. Paddy’s Day in New York is always a high spirited affair. So it’s happy a coincidence the two events have aligned. It must be the Luck of the Iris!

To celebrate in style, some of the bands performing at RFNE—which will take place the night of March 17 at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square—will be playing Irish songs or songs with an Irish theme. My band, Zonules of Zinn, is going to play Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl.” We love the clever, rap-inspired lyrics sung to a funky, Celtic beat with a pennywhistle and fiddle riffing underneath. If you haven’t heard it, check out Sheeran’s delightful YouTube video featuring Irish-American actress Saoirse Ronan, who stars in the movie “Lady Bird.”

I asked the other Rockin’ for New Eyes bandleaders to tell VMAIL Weekend readers about the Irish songs their band will be playing at the show, as well as some of the other great tunes they’ve prepared.

So come to the Hard Rock and “go green” with us!
—Andrew Karp

Pictured above are Evan Shyer, left, and Jason Shyer.
Jason Shyer

We’ll be playing “Whiskey in the Jar.” The original is by Thin Lizzy, who is the coolest Irish band ever (sorry U2, you’re bigger but not cooler) and doesn’t get enough credit for how influential they were. They are one of the main bridges between Jimi Hendrix and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. We’re playing Metallica’s version for maximum density.

I’m most excited to play in RFNE because I will be sharing the stage with my father, Paul Shyer and my brother, Evan Shyer while my soon to be four-year old will be watching us rock (with proper ear phones on, of course). I’m most excited to play “Blue Collar Man” because Styx is amazing and hearing my brother Evan sing Tommy Shaw will be face melting. I’m also terrified because this is not an easy song for everyone involved. The same goes for “Pride and Joy” as well. I’m excited because my father is singing and terrified because trying to replicate Stevie Ray Vaughn’s feel as a metal player is a pretty big step outside the comfort zone.

Bob Stein
The Bass Curve Band

We chose “Seven Old Ladies (Got Stuck In The Lavertry”). It’s a very fun Irish tune that has many versions (our version will be appropriate-ish, but entertaining). The most important part is that the whole Hard Rock Café audience will need to sing along. We are going to sing loud, and go excessively green on St. Paddy’s Day and have all the people outside on Times Square wishing they were inside at our optical industry bash.

Although it is not our hardest rocking song, the Bass Curve Band will be playing Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues” featuring Ashley Rivera on vocals and soaring lead guitar by National Vision’s retired chief financial officer, Chuck Criscillis. We have a couple of tribute songs to great artists we’ve lost (Gregg Allman and Tom Petty), and look forward to honoring their huge contributions to music over multiple generations.

Scott Bushinger, OD
Punktum Remotum

The majority of performers in the Punktum Remotum band are optometry students from the SUNY College of Optometry. (SUNY student Jerry D'Aversa is pictured at right.) They're taking a little bit of time away from studying for boards and exams to help out a great organization and give another memorable rock performance on their home turf during Vision Expo week. The highlight of Punktum Remotum's set will probably be a cover of “Titanium” by Sia. It's a song about resiliency and perseverance in the face of adversity. It's a theme that resonates with this generation socially, politically and professionally. It also speaks to the tireless work New Eyes for the Needy continually performs on behalf of the less fortunate among us. Be prepared to jump and sing along with this one. Punktum Remotum will keep you moving! We look forward to rocking with you soon!

Pictured above are, left to right: John Carrier, David Salk,
David Hampp and Robert Shanbaum.
David Salk

We are excited to be performing “Woodstock.” It’s new to our group, but we’re coming up on the 50th Anniversary of the event, and it seemed appropriate.
Also since there are so many young folks attending the show from the School of Optometry, it seemed like a good song to do. Also, since all of us are huge Tom Petty fans, we are looking forward to performing “Last Dance with Mary Jane. It will be bittersweet. "I Second That Emotion" is another new song for us that we’re looking forward to performing. We’re doing the Grateful Dead version, so it’s a blend of traditional rhythm and blues and San Francisco sound… perfect for our group.