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Musicians, Sailors, Hurricane Sandy survivors… perform on St. Croix

A fair amount of musical groups from the mainland tour the Caribbean Islands through the winter. From average to phenomenal, the modes of travel are always the same. You start with flight from said city of origin, make it into Charlotte Amelie’ Cyril King airport. Then it’s a mixture of renting vans, hopping puddle jumpers and riding ferries to complete the journey. All this while sleeping in hotel rooms, efficiencies, and crash pads with each new day bringing a different story.

Enter Stell and Snuggs, professional musicians, sailors, troubadours from NYC, musical partners and lovers. This duo lost their home and nearly everything else in Hurricane Sandy while living in Rockaway Beach. They spent months after organizing food relief for victims with Andrew Wandzilak’s brainchild, “Hurricane Sandy Relief Kitchen”. After a lot of couch surfing and sub-leases, this duo decided to take the opportunity of not being tied to a home to follow a dream. They hopped aboard a sailing vessel, now playing music wherever they go.

Stell and Snuggs made the 1,500 mile sail to the Virgin Islands by way of Bermuda back in November. They have been steadily performing throughout and since. Along with them on their journey are their two daughters, Arden, 12, and Riley, 3. Besides performing, they home school aboard, and hope to provide an enriching experience for their entire family.

Jarad, a brilliant jazz pianist/organist was raised on a healthy dose of bebop, Latin Jazz, and jazz soul from mentors Edward Simon and Trudy Pitts while attending the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts. Rodney Franks of jazz station KUVO 89.3 said: “With his skill and talent on the rise, Jarad Astin continues to grow each and every time he sits at his instrument.”

Christel is a classically trained flutist who can switch seamlessly between Bach and traditional Irish music. The duo attended the same school where they met in the university choir. “Her runs and articulations are speedy, but nonetheless possessed of a plaintive soulfulness and verve that reminds the listener of an ecstatic nightingale.” Rob Wasserman, Colorado Daily.

The band is compelling and dynamic, saucy and playful. They balance between instrumental and retro pop songs that they arrange with flavorings of the flute, ukulele, piano, and accordion. Stell and Snuggs have drawn from influences further South, such as Brazilian choro and Colombian Cumbia just over the past year. Their music possesses a quality which captures the “all-walks-of-life” listener, as they perform their life experiences through their fingertips.