Bay Ridge mourned a taste-maker.
Hundreds packed the Wicked Monk and raised their glasses on Jan. 31 to honor late Monk chef and local music fan Russell Titland, who died from cancer in January. They also raised around $15,000 to pay for Titland’s funeral — the least they could do for a man so many people in the neighborhood knew and loved, a friend said.
“If you lived in Bay Ridge, you knew Russell,” said musician and business owner James Quigley. “He would give you the shirt off his back, and he supported me in life, so I came out to support him and his family in his death.”
Dozens of local businesses and residents donated sports memorabilia, gift cards, and handmade goods for a silent auction and raffle. The Wicked Monk’s food suppliers, who worked with Titland directly, donated nosh so mourners could feast in his memory.
Celtic rockers the Canny Brothers Band hosted a show and played alongside John Rafferty, the Head and South Band, and Radio Daze.
Rafferty and the Canny Brothers played one of Titland’s favorite tunes, Van Morrison’s “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)” — a number he’d often hop on stage to sing when friends were playing at local bars, Quigley said.
The day was a perfect tribute to a man who cared deeply about the community, he said.
“Russell was always out seeing local bands and supporting what was happening in the neighborhood,” Quigley said. “He was just a really good guy to know and Sunday captured that. It was financially a success and emotionally a success.”