Photos by Stuart Bayer
When he’s not hammering out deals in the boardroom, this busy White Plains lawyer puts on some of Westchester’s biggest concerts.
A lawyer for 30 years, Doug Panero of Larchmont begins his day at 7:30 a.m., drafting real estate contracts, negotiating transactions, attending closings; in a nutshell, he’s making it rain as a partner at Rabin Panero & Herrick in White Plains. A rabid music lover and concertgoer, Panero abruptly shifts gears when the clock strikes 1 p.m. “I bring a change of outfit, so, like Clark Kent, I can go from super-lawyer to music man,” he says, laughing.
As the brains and (almost the only) arms behind Doug Panero Presents, Panero promotes and produces a number of well-attended, free, outdoor concert series in Westchester, including Rock White Plains, Tunes in June (both in collaboration with the White Plains Business Improvement District), and Music in the Streets at Ridge Hill. Does this make him a groupie? “I’m a groupie of the art form,” he says. “Music translates things in a way that other art forms, like literature, can’t.”
“I have the ability to give these artists, who have sacrificed so much in the pursuit of their art, a forum. What a privilege to do that.”
Panero’s passion project started in 2011, when he moved into his new home in Larchmont. “There was a little corner in my living room where I thought, I could put a stage there.” Over the next four years, Panero hosted invitation-only concerts twice a year, showcasing largely unknown artists, like Gregory Porter, who later won a Grammy, and John Fulbright, a future Grammy nominee. “I have a good ear for what’s going to be big,” Panero says. In 2014, he started taking his concerts on the road to public venues; by then, his audience had grown from 50 fans at the start to roughly 200.
With an “appetite to do more,” Panero strives to be not only a concert promoter and producer but also “a source, a curator of music discovery, for artists who have not yet crossed over to the mainstream.” He has a deep affinity for all genres of music (jazz, pop, singer/songwriters, funk, blues, etc.), though he admits heavy metal is not his vibe. As for his concert series, “I’m open to any genre. So long as it’s good music, I’ll put it on.”
While his law practice keeps humming steadily along, Panero says, “Music is in the back of my brain at all times,” forever reminding him of why he “threw caution to the wind” and went down this path. “I have the ability to give these artists, who have sacrificed so much in the pursuit of their art, a forum,” he says. “What a privilege to do that.” He admits it’s a stressful balancing act between his two gigs but that it all pays off when the music starts. “I take a sip of bourbon, and away we go!”