Count Basie Theatre receives $10,000 contribution from White Castle Management Company towards Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship


L-R: Cindy Sivak (Smithereens mgmt.), Izzy Sackowitz (Executive Vice President, Count Basie Theatre), John Whitaker (White Castle Management Co.), Smithereens co-founders Jim Babjak (Guitars) and Dennis Diken (drums), Haskell Wallace (White Castle Management Co.) and Maggie Riker (Trustee, Count Basie Theatre Board) celebrate White Castle’s generous $10,000 contribution to the Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship at the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy.

(RED BANK, NJ | FEBRUARY 13) — The nonprofit Count Basie Theatre announced today receipt of a $10,000 contribution from White Castle Management Company towards the Pat DiNizio Musical Performance Scholarship fund, launched in January in honor of the late singer of New Jersey rockers The Smithereens.

“The music of the Smithereens continues to inspire,” said Jamie T. Richardson, Vice President, White Castle Management Company. “In honoring the memory of Pat DiNizio through scholarship support, we celebrate a next generation of musicians who will bring more light to the world.  What the Count Basie Theatre is doing represents joy and hope for all of us.”

“The Basie is so touched by this meaningful contribution from White Castle,” said Maria Sorensen, Vice President, Development, Count Basie Theatre. “A gift of this size will provide young people with scholarships for years to come and it is a lasting way to ensure that Pat’s legacy lives on through music education.”

Contributions continue to be accepted at Details on applying for the scholarship, good towards any Basie Performing Arts Academy musical performance program, will be announced in the spring.

The Smithereens were set for their Basie debut in early January as part of the theater’s “Little Steven’s Underground Garage at The Basie” concert series, presented by Citi and hosted by Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer and E-Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt. DiNizio passed just days after the concert was announced — a moment that drew condolences, accolades and messages of appreciation from artists and fans worldwide. After speaking with the Smithereens family, Van Zandt suggested the show be turned into a tribute.

A month later, Van Zandt, Kinks co-founder Dave Davies, Marshall Crenshaw, Ted Leo, Bebe Buell, Freedy Johnston, Patty Smyth (Scandal), Robin Wilson (Gin Blossoms), Richard Barone (The Bongos), Graham Maby, Peter Zaremba and Keith Streng (The Fleshtones) and others joined Smithereens members Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken, Severo Jornacion and Mike Mesaros for an unforgettable night that saw the performance of more than 30 Smithereens songs and DiNizio favorites.

The show was webcast globally. In addition to White Castle’s contribution, donations from web viewers and a per-ticket contribution from event attendees, nearly $20,000 was raised to establish the DiNizio scholarship.

“We are so pleased that Pat DiNizio scholarship will help young people discover their talents, set them on exciting musical journeys, and find creative ways to express themselves,” said Smithereens co-founders Babjak and Diken. “We hope that the new generation of musicians will enjoy the same sense of fun and fulfillment that The Smithereens feel every time we take the stage.”

Babjak and Diken were inducted into White Castle’s Hall Of Fame in 2002 – an honor bestowed upon them in recognition of Babjak’s “White Castle Blues,” a song he penned in 1977 that resurfaced as a bonus track on the Smithereens’ 1986 debut, Especially For You. The album has since sold in excess of a half million copies.