Drummer Mick Palmesano always had big dreams and wasn’t afraid to pursue them.
In the days following Palmesano’s death in March, a group of family and friends took action to ensure that the Hornell native’s legacy continues to impact residents of the South End. and beyond.
Peggy Pollizi, Palmesano’s sister, founded a charity in his memory. A group of friends from Palmesano, hailing from his hometown all the way to Sweden, will help kickstart the effort by hosting “PalmePalooza” at the RBI Sports Pub in Hornell on April 23.
The musical tribute will bring together former bandmates dating back to when Palmesano was a student at Hornell, to his professional drumming career based in California and Boston. Palmesano played with several rock bands signed to major record labels in the 1990s and early 2000s. Friends and family could watch his career unfold on MTV music videos or catch a show while the bands were touring North America.
The journey began at Hornell when Palmesano fell in love with the drums at the age of 4. He started his first band, Krimson Kastle, before college and played shows throughout the region. Palmesano moved across the country to Los Angeles and attended the Musicians Institute after graduating from Hornell in 1990.
“Mick was the kind of guy that all guys that age wanted to be,” recalls childhood friend Al McManus. “He was playing drums without his shirt on and flipping his hair all the time. He rooted after high school and just chased his dream. I think a lot of people really respected that and admired that about him, his commitment to drumming and his love of music. Dropping out and moving at 18 is a big step for anyone.
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PalmePalooza will feature professional and amateur musicians playing some of Palmesano’s songs. His former bandmates and a Swedish friend, drummer Lars Skold, are expected to fly in for the event. McManus, a former member of Krimson Kastle, helped organize the event from Nashville, where he works in the music industry.
Palmesano traded his drumsticks for spreadsheets and embarked on a career as an accountant over the past two decades after living out his rock and roll dreams. He was also an accomplished tattoo artist.
“He was a really intense guy. Either way, he did it one thousand percent,” McManus said. “He didn’t do anything halfway. It was complete devotion to what he was doing. It was the same with his children. He was a great dad and a great husband. He was just an interesting guy, one of those lights in the world where the world is a little less of a place with him gone.
How the New ‘Palmesano Strong’ Charity Will Impact Southern Tier Residents
Palmesano was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease, in the fall of 2019. PalmePalooza and a new charity, Palmesano Strong, were born following his death on March 6 at the age of 50.
Pollizi said she had “very big plans” for the charity. The non-profit organization will support ALS One, which focuses on finding a cure while supporting those who suffer from the disease. Pollizi envisions Palmesano Strong playing a similar role in the southern part.
“Palmesano Strong will always donate to ALS One because of their incredible quality and what they have done for my brother, but in the future I will donate to families here in Western New York and around the south who are affected by ALS,” said Pollizi. “ALS is very expensive in treatment and everything. Some families go through terrible ordeals.
Palmesano Strong will support Southern Tier families struggling to make ends meet due to illness, perhaps providing Christmas gifts that otherwise would not have been financially feasible. The charity will also make grants to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, which treated Palmesano on frequent trips from his home in nearby Quincy, Mass.
PalmePalooza is the first major fundraiser for the charity. Doors to RBI open at 6 p.m. on April 23 with the show from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. A $20 donation includes food, beverages, a charity auction and raffles. The inaugural Palmesano Strong Golf Tournament will follow on June 11 at the Wildwood Country Club in Rush.
Pollizi approaches the charity with the same focus that his brother devoted to his many endeavors.
“I have very big dreams for what Palmesano Strong will become. I won’t stop until I make these things happen,” Pollizi said. “My brother and I were very relatives. We were the only two kids in the family, but for four hours at his call times, I heard so many stories and so many things about my brother that I didn’t know. I always knew its reach was very wide, but I never knew how deep it was.
Palmesano’s parents, Mike and Suzy, still reside in Hornell. He is also survived by his wife, Erin, and two children, Max and Adrian, both drummers.