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Astoria community rallies to help Astoria Music Collective founder with “Music 4 Meezy” benefit

Photo: Facebook

Feb. 22, 2024 By Jessica Militello

Since 2016 Astoria Music Collective founder Miguel Hernandez has worked with bars and restaurants in the neighborhood to get upcoming local singers and bands paid gigs and a place to perform.

But now, family and friends of Hernandez are asking the Western Queens community for their outreach and support with a GoFundMe campaign and a music benefit event to help him deal with medical costs and bills after an unexpected emergency that started after a trip to the emergency room in late December 2023. 

In many ways Hernandez has been a perfect representation of the camaraderie and support of the Astoria community- he’s helped many performers get their start in the music circuit and shown artists how to get paid fairly for their performances, as well as promote themselves via performances and social media. However, lately he hasn’t been able to pursue his passion of music and community since he first got sick on Christmas Eve.

“Miguel has a long road to recovery ahead of him,” said Joe Rayome, a musician and friend of Hernandez who is organizing the benefit. “The benefit on March 16 has been developed with an emphasis on fundraising and to help drive as much money as possible to the GoFundMe [campaign.]”

According to the description and frequent updates on his GoFundMe page organized by his wife, Jennifer Perney, he was initially taken to the emergency room after experiencing terrible pain that was discovered to be a sepsis infection from a burst abscess in his small intestine.

He was admitted into Mt. Sinai in Manhattan where he stayed for around a month, had multiple surgeries, and dealt with a persistent sepsis infection before being discharged on January 19th. As of February 15 he was readmitted to the hospital after being unable to eat or drink for several days. 

Family, friends, artists, and musicians in the neighborhood have been supportive from the start and so far, have been able to raise $20,000 via their GoFundMe campaign. 

The benefit that Rayome has organized is called  “Music 4 Meezy,” which will take place starting at 3pm on the 16th of March at the Shillelagh Tavern in Astoria. The event will feature performances from 17 local singers and five bands.

There is no cover fee to attend, but any donations will be appreciated. The benefit will also have a raffle with prizes such as gift certificates for restaurants in the neighborhood as well as a new guitar.

“Through AMC [Miguel] has provided a stage and opportunities for countless musicians, songwriters, and bands,” said Rayome. “With Miguel, friends are family and the web he has cast over the local music community is vast and complex-AMC has evolved into a network of artists and friends who continue to create, innovate, and collaborate in support of each other. Without question, this network and the live music scene would not exist in this neighborhood as it does without Miguel Hernandez.”

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