York College Alumni and Staff Perform at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan

Photo By | Richard Heaton

By Richard Heaton

On Sept. 2, the remnants of Hurricane Ida had no effect on music lovers as a small crowd gathered at Arlene’s Grocery in Downtown Manhattan to witness a show headlined by local rock group, “The Phoenix Within.”

The group is fronted by York College staff member Omar Feliciano and his bandmates consist of bassist Nicholas Narlis, Guitarist John Narlis, and drummer James Narlis Jr. 

Music is just one of Feliciano’s passions, with science being the other. He currently serves as a Lab Technician for York College, in which he sets up and maintains labs and equipment for classes. It was through this work that he met his three bandmates.

“I met Nick in 2018 through his father, James Narlis Sr.,” said Feliciano. “He’s the painter here at the college and in 2019, Nick introduced me to his brothers, John and James.”

However, The Phoenix Within has roots that go much deeper. Feliciano first began performing under the moniker in 2013 and it is thanks to an interaction with Robert Fernandez that the name was born. 

“We were talking about the zodiac,” said Feliciano. “Fernandez was explaining to me how Scorpios have different stages with the final one being the phoenix, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, you have a phoenix within’ and I stopped to write that down.”

Like Feliciano, Fernandez also has history at York. It was in a physics class in 2012 where the two first met, before becoming close friends.

Fernandez was present at Arlene’s and opened the event with a 30-minute comedy routine that chronicled his childhood and early adult years. He also dedicated part of his routine to mention the effect that York had on his life.

“If it wasn’t for York College, I wouldn’t be where I’m at,” said Fernandez. “I worked in Dr. [Anne] Simon’s research lab in the Biology department and she gave me my first research experience. Her mentorship opened pathways for me.”

Following his routine was a performance by another local band “All in Due Time” before “The Phoenix Within” took the stage. In total, “The Phoenix Within” performed nine songs, including one of their most successful songs, “Pessimist”. The song, which was released in January, was on the iTunes Rock chart for four days and climbed to the number nine spot.

“It doesn’t seem like a long time,” said Feliciano. “But for us, being there just one day was a big deal.”

The performance at Arlene’s was just a preview of what the band was about to experience in the coming days. They performed at the Blue Ridge Rock Festival in Danville, VA on Sept. 10 and the Inkcarceration Festival in Mansfield, OH on Sept. 12, in front of larger crowds.

“I can’t guess how many people were there,” said Feliciano, in regard to their Sept. 10th performance. “But it was the largest crowd that I’ve ever played to.”

In addition to performing their most popular songs live, “The Phoenix Within” is working on their next album, titled Overdue. The album will be the band’s first with the current lineup, but third overall. It is scheduled to be released on Nov. 28.

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