Since its inception in 2014, the Danny DeGennaro Foundation has worked tirelessly to keep alive the legacy of its namesake – the acclaimed Levittown musician who was murdered in his home on Dec. 28, 2011.
Over the years, the nonprofit organization has grown exponentially. It awards annual scholarships to up-and-coming artists at Bucks County Community College; hosts a slew of fundraising concerts (pre-COVID); and, under its new DDF Jam Publishing LLC and Danny DeGennaro Foundation Record Label, signs aspiring creatives. All the while, it introduces DeGennaro’s music to the next generation.
Recently, the foundation launched its next initiative to ensure DeGennaro isn’t forgotten anytime soon. On Feb. 21 – what would’ve been DeGennaro’s 66th birthday – the first episode of “Danny’s Creative House” video series will go live on YouTube. New episodes, released every Sunday, feature DeGennaro’s former bandmates, tour managers and local music scene aficionados recounting stories of the late singer and guitarist’s life. Viewers will also enjoy an occasional live performance.
The 20-minute episodes are being filmed at the 12,000-square-foot Soundplex in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and hosted by singer/songwriter Lisa Bouchelle. After appearing in numerous benefit concerts for the foundation and playing alongside scholarship winners, Bouchelle was thrilled to assist in its latest endeavor.
“It’s just a really great organization. So, when they called me, I was like, ‘Oh! I’m dying to do this,’ ” she told The Times. “Interviewing everyone, I’ve been learning a lot. I didn’t know a lot of the intense histories of these people that Danny worked with in various bands like Kingfish and all the different projects he had. It’s very fun for me.”
According to Ed Mero, of the foundation, Bouchelle was an easy choice. Given her longtime support of its work, not to mention her on-camera skills, she was the perfect fit. Bouchelle hosts The Comcast Network’s Rock Star Kitchen, which features industry giants like Chubby Checker, Bowling for Soup and Foreigner preparing signature dishes and singing.
To date, six episodes of “Danny’s Creative House” have been filmed. Guests include Bucks County native Ronnie Garrison, of The Excaliburs, and Steve Shive, of The Grateful Dead spinoff band Kingfish, which DeGennaro performed in from 1979 until his death. Also featured is Perkasie native Stephen Amoroso, who managed DeGennaro during his Kingfish days. He reminisces about working with the musician known to many as “Rio.”
“You’re going to hear a lot of stories about back in the heyday of rock and roll. I was too young for it, but those are the good days that we miss,” said Bouchelle. “I’ve been learning. I come up with the questions, but when I get there I learn something new every time. These people are filling me in. And people are going to be interested in it because it really gives the rock and roll history, and then after they talk about it, you’re actually hearing them play the music. It’s cool.”
For Bouchelle, who was signed to Sony’s RED Music during the pandemic and plans to release a new album this spring, it’s an honor to help uncover these memories from the individuals who knew DeGennaro best.
“We have people come on that knew Danny from a very early age. Some of them knew him in school and then became involved in his music career maybe 10 years later,” she said. “Danny has a really strong following who feels his life and his music career was cut short tragically. He had so much more to offer. This is keeping it alive and exposing people to some really great original music that’s inspiring.”
In addition to the video series, the foundation plans to partner with Soundplex owner George Koch for future projects. Koch envisions the space as a private music club for musicians that provides recording studio time, rehearsal space, a live event venue and mentoring. He knew “almost instantly” that aligning with John Austin Mulhern, president of DDF Jam and the label, would further that mission.
“The two philosophies are almost synergistic. It’s almost like a marriage made in heaven and we met at the altar,” said Koch. “A lot of these musicians try to do things on their own and they fail. I wanted to create an environment where we can get veterans like John and others to help these young musicians.”
Visit dannydegennaro.org for more on the Danny DeGennaro Foundation. Visit youtube.com/channel/UC89itUJDOrHmwLPFsYla8yw/featured to watch “Danny’s Creative House.” Visit lisabouchelle.com for more on Lisa Bouchelle.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org