It was a Sunny night in Red Hook.
Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the life of legendary Red Hook barkeep Sunny Balzano on April 14, paying tribute to the his life with an evening of music and dancing at local arts venue Pioneer Works that his widow said would have made the spirited spirit-slinger proud.
“It was amazing, everybody got so into it,” said Tone Balzano-Johansen. “It’s just the character of the people who come here, what can I say. They have a love for life and that’s what Sunny embodied too.”
Balzano-Johansen performed with folk band the Luna Sisters and crooned a solo rendition of Billie Holiday’s “Back in Your Own Backyard” for her late husband. The night also featured performances from famed touring guitarist Smokey Hormel’s Western swing band Smokey’s Roundup — which has played the bar every Wednesday for the last decade — and other Sunny’s regulars, who got the 300 attendees up and moving.
“Everybody was just letting loose and dancing, it was really fabulous,” said Balzano-Johansen.
The sold out event raised more than $15,000 — enough to cover the cost of Balzano’s funeral.