Westchester’s monthly food truck gathering is now adding live music to the menu

By Michael Aushenker

The next Westchester First Fridays food truck event happens from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday on the 6200 block of 87th Street

The next Westchester First Fridays food truck event happens from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday on the 6200 block of 87th Street

A dozen food trucks. Hundreds of attendees. And now, a fistful of musical acts.

Thanks to Dan McNay, a banjo-pickin’ local of 20 years by way of his native Indiana and a stint in Venice, the Westchester First Fridays monthly food truck event at the Triangle offers live music to go with that vegan grilled cheese sandwich and exotic fusion taco. Performing tomorrow night: violinist Angelina Lamas and singer-songwriters Soul Dogs Duo.

Since December 2010, First Friday diners have been able to partake in a diverse array of epicurean delights served on wheels, including morsels from The Greasy Wiener, Mango Tango, Rajin Cajun on Wheels, India Jones Chow Truck, Cousins Maine Lobster, Waffles De Liege, and even the vehicle that started L.A.’s food truck craze: Roy Choi’s Kogi truck. A customer might hit up The Melt for a Parisian Melt — a brie, apple and honey baguette sandwich — with a cup of their wild mushroom soup, and then grab a double-decker ice cream sandwich at Paradise Cookies and Ice Cream for dessert.

This year music became the whipped cream on the sundae, so to speak, when McNay performed with his banjo and the seven-piece country outfit Rhubarb Meringue Pie.

“We’re really a bunch of amateurs, but we had a lot of fun with it,” McNay said.

For February, McNay sought out other participants to round out the three one-hour sets, including Jake & Erik, a pair of 20-year-olds from Long Beach, who rocked some Beatles songs. Last month saw folkies Wayne Johnson and Nancy Escobedo as well as solo guitarist Dave Gillman perform.

“Our goal has always been that [the event] evolves,” said Margot Zuzek, owner of Canterbury Art Shoppe. She originated the event with Patricia Lyon, who with husband David ran Westchester Watchworks. Last year, the Lyons relocated their business to El Segundo, so Zuzek has primarily run the show.

Zuzek enlisted McNay, whom she met at a square dancing class, to organize the musical portion of her event.

“She said, ‘I’m tired of listening to generators,’” McNay recalled, chuckling.

Characterizing the winter season as “off months” for her event, Zuzek said the past three months have been a perfect time to experiment with launching the live music component.  And now, with “warmth and light” approaching and a constant “mix of old and new trucks” circulating, she expects to see First Fridays flourish again as we head into summer. According to Zuzek, the Westchester happening approaches some 2,500 people rotating in and out at peak capacity.

“We’re a small street. We’re kind of hidden and we are not a high walking zone,” she said, heartened by the monthly influx of newcomers First Fridays has attracted to create a small-town community feeling.

“We’re getting things more upbeat,” McNay said. With Spanish-language rocker Ron Ruiz and singer-songwriter Alisha Murphy penciled in for May, “I’m hoping it’ll attract younger folks.”

McNay is interested in recruiting musical acts for future First Fridays, as well as people to perform at an open mic during the event’s last half hour. Interested musicians can contact McNay at McNay@mosis.com

First Fridays at the Triangle takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. on the 6200 block of 87th Street. The live music programming takes place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/westchesterfirstfridays