Hot Summer Nights: Rockers Reflect on Their Favorite East East Venues

by

Nancy Atlas, photographed at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett.

A PHOTO FEATURE BY MICHAEL HELLER

The success of live music relies on a series of interwoven and unpredictable factors. The sound can only be as good as the venue, the sound guy, the acoustics, the crowd itself. Displayed here are sone of the East End’s most well-known musicians who have made their livings playing everything from late night bar rooms to bustling Hamptons hot spots.

Gene Casey at Billy’s by the Bay, Greenport

  • Why is this one of your favorite venues?
  • “This is one of my favorite places to play, and we play here quite often – this year will be my fourth summer — and each year we have a higher number of gigs we play here. What’s special about this place is that in 2004 I moved to the North Fork from the South Fork, and we kind of made this place our home. It’s very convenient; I live about ten minutes away. The Lone Sharks have always been about simple, unpretentious music, enjoying what we do and playing the music that we love. It’s always been designed for dancing and drinking and a partying crowd, and certainly Bill’s is that. We get people from the South Fork who take their boats over from Sag Harbor and Shelter Island, and we get people who come from Connecticut who come over for the day, as well as people from up west, and they converge and it’s become a ‘thing.’ They see us, basically, every other Sunday at Billy’s.”
  • What draws you most to the local music scene?
  • “When I first moved out, long ago, there was a bit of a scene, and there were a lot of places to play back then; that’s one of the reasons I started the group. Unlike Manhattan, where I had been playing, where I had to wait until three in the morning to go on and then divvy up $70 amongst the band, there was a more lively bar scene, with more bars, and DWI wasn’t as much of a crisis as it has become — it was looser then. That’s why I created the Lone Sharks; it was just to be a bar band, to fit the venues that there were. Since then, the scene has gone through some changes, but I think it’s pretty healthy right now; the East End music scene is as healthy as it’s ever been.”
  • Who is your favorite East End band or musician?
  • “My favorite is Jim Turner. When I first moved out here, he was playing at a venue called Burke’s Road House, and he was playing the blues and rock ‘n’ roll and the harmonica, and it was directly because of Jim that I decided that I could put together my own band that was my version of that. We became friends right away, and whenever possible I jump in and jam with his band, and he’s done the same. So we’re pals who go way back, and I guess he’s my connection to how the way it was.”

Dawnette Darden at Agawam Park, Southampton

  • Why is this one of your favorite venues?
  • “I love performing at Agawam Park because I feel free, and the crowds are outstanding; every year it’s an outstanding crowd.”
  • What draws you most to the local music scene?
  • “The live music scene. Excellent musicians, real live music, and people who appreciate live music still; we’re not a dying breed out here. We are for real out here, and it feels good — no, great — to be appreciated as a live musician, knowing that I put so much into this craft in my life, it gets appreciated out here…because it doesn’t in the middle of the island; you need to go into the city or beyond that for it to happen. Out here, it just happens naturally if you’re good.”
  • Who is your favorite East End band or musician?
  • “Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks. He’s the first person I met — I actually did a radio interview with him — and he’s a phenomenal performer; I am a fan!”

Joe Delia at the Surf Lodge, Montauk

  • Why is this one of your favorite venues?
  • On many levels it’s great. The management and the people who run it — Jayma Cardoso and her crew — have always been really great and supportive to musicians out here, and have always been really nice to me all the way around, so we love to play here. And it’s the environment itself: the stage is overlooking the bay in the back, and there’s all sorts of activity, and the layout of the club and the sound here is really great. In general, it’s a really cool place to play.”
  • What draws you most to the local music scene?
  • “I think there’s a really thriving music community out here, and it’s unusual to find that anywhere these days, and I think the East End very much has that; it’s a place where musicians feel that there is a venue for them to play. Of all things, that’s probably at the top of my list: there are places to play, and there’s an audience — the East End likes their live music!”
  • Who is your favorite East End band or musician?
  • “There are so many great people that it’s hard to single one out, but I would have to say that Nancy Atlas has been really good to me; since we started playing out here she’s been really supportive of my writing and playing, and even though I hate to single just one person out, I’d say that Nancy is at the top of my list.”

Brad Penuel and Telly Karoussos of Hopefully Forgiven.

Hopefully Forgiven at Baron’s Cove, Sag Harbor

  • Why is this one of your favorite venues?
  • “There’s something about how there’s a constant turnaround and flow of people that are visiting or staying at the inn, from other countries or the city — it’s both a local and transient crowd. And, they do music year ‘round here, which is not common, and it’s become a destination for music; they’re thinking about it, and they take it seriously, and the proof of that is that it has become a destination, and we’re humbly glad that we’ve been in since they started doing it.”
  • What draws you most to the local music scene?
  • “The gigs are way better than in the city. Just being out here, in the beautiful lap of luxury, rather than schlepping it back and forth to Arlene’s Grocery (or some other small club) – which would you rather choose?” (laughs)
  • Who is your favorite East End band or musician?
  • “We’re a big fan of John DiVello — he plays here as well. We like his whole thing; he’s got a great vibe going, great tunes, and is just a cool, laid-back guy.”

Nancy Atlas at the Stephen Talkhouse, Amagansett

  • Why is this one of your favorite venues?
  • “I got my start here, and you’re part of a family when you play at the Talkhouse as long as we have — we’ve been playing here for 25 years. My band really started here. Peter [Honerkamp] was the one that said to me, ‘Get together a bunch of musicians and I’ll give you a Friday night.’ Also, it’s an institution; I think it’s the one place that still really, truly has that authentic rock ‘n’ roll experience out on the East End of Long Island; there’s no place like this, at all — even close.”
  • What draws you most to the local music scene?
  • “That’s a weird question. I’m not drawn to the local music scene; I just create music out on the East End. What I use to create music is the raw beauty of the environment, but in turn I am surrounded by fellow people who feel the calling to the East End to create. When you’re an artist, you’re doing your own art; I don’t look to others for my inspiration, I look to my own inspiration to create out here.”
  • Who is your favorite East End band or musician?
  • “Klyph Black. Part of the reason I play guitar is because I spent my late nights at the Talkhouse, sneaking in through the back door when I was 17, and standing on the side of the stage wearing my white go-go boots, feeling overwhelmed with desire as Klyph Black ripped into the Rolling Stones at 4:00 in the morning. It was that feeling that made me say, ‘I want more of this, and I can’t let it be dependent on a person creating it,’ so that’s what really stimulated me into playing guitar.”

Carolina Fuentes at 75 Main, Southampton

  • Why is this one of your favorite venues?
  • “This is one of the places where I started as a solo drummer; my friend is a DJ and he invited me here, so it has a lot of history for me.”
  • What draws you most to the local music scene?
  • “Most of my friends are here. I love the energy in the summer; the vibe is so fun. Everyone comes out from the city, and they just want to have fun.”
  • Who is your favorite East End band or musician?
  • “Mambo Loco! Because I’m from Chile, from Latin America, and they bring all of the Salsa and hotness to the scene, and Sabor Latino — Latin flavor — that makes the people want to stand up and dance all night long. They’re so talented, and with good vibes.”

Mick Hargreaves at the East End Arts Council, Riverhead

  • Why is this one of your favorite venues?
  • “Well this is a whole new venture – it’s called the ‘Alive on 25 Arts Stage,’ a series that features spoken word and musical artists. This started first in Patchogue, and it became a thing where all of the cool kids would hang out. Riverhead saw this and offered to do the same thing on alternating Thursdays. I like performing outside, especially these street festivals, because people are passing by, and we’re trying to rope them in, just like a carnival barker. What we’ve discovered is that if we put down seats, they stay awhile, and it becomes something other than just a street stage, and instead it’s a ‘thing’ to hang out at.”
  • What draws you most to the local music scene?
  • “Well, you can park everywhere you go! (laughs) I came from the Hoboken/Queens/Manhattan music scene, and one of the main reasons I left it was because I couldn’t park. So there’s wiggle room to stretch out a bit, even from a logistical standpoint. You can come home at night and park your car in your driveway. Also, the gigs are more relaxed out here than they are in New York — out here, you finish your gig and you’re at the beach in ten minutes.”
  • Who is your favorite East End band or musician?
  • “You’ve got to go with Gene Casey, just because of his longevity, and…Gene has made gestures to me and my family in personal ways that can’t be measured in any numerical way; that’s powerful stuff.”

Joe Lauro at the Bay Street Theater, Sag Harbor

  • Why is this one of your favorite venues?
  • “After performing for more than 40 years in bars and nightclubs, where you or the band more often than not gets no special attention when setting up or performing, the Bay Street Theater has a totally professional and organized staff who truly care about how the performance will be, and who want to present you in the best way possible. Moreover, it’s a place where, unlike most bars or nightclubs, people come to actually listen to you. It’s a professional step up for musicians.”
  • What draws you most to the local music scene?
  • “Around here there just happens to be a really, really rich bed of great musicians. There are great players of all styles; it’s sort of like a fraternal group, almost, musician’s musicians, from rock to folk to jazz — we all have a common thread. And, the people out here tend to be — compared to where I used to live — a lot more open and laid-back and cooperative to work together — and I like that sense of community; I’m really drawn to that.”
  • Who is your favorite East End band or musician?
  • “I really, really groove on Mama Lee Rose and Friends. Now, I would say the Lone Sharks, but I play with Gene once in a while; I never cease to be amazed at his energy and his talent. But as something new, that I’m not really a party of, it’s Mama Lee and Rose. There’s something about a family band, and those two voices, and their warmth, and what they put out on stage that makes the hair on my arms go straight up.”

Rose Lawler, Mama Lee Lawler and Jim Lawler at Townline BBQ in Sagaponack, NY.

Mama Lee, Rose and Jimmy Lawler at Townline BBQ, Sagaponack

  • Why is this one of your favorite venues?
  • “This is so down-home. The people that come here — some of them are my old students! It’s the camaraderie — you see a lot of locals — a LOT of locals — ‘bubbies.’ Also, it has a different feel — it lets you be a little quieter, with a little bit more of an acoustic feeling to it.”
  • What draws you most to the local music scene?
  • “I came here because of Jimmy’s family — he was raised here, and there’s something about the Shinnecock canal; once you get out here, it’s hard to leave. There’s such a phenomenal amount of talent; I mean, I don’t know if people even know all the stuff that’s out here. You can go anywhere and get good food and hear good music. Montauk, as far out as it is, you can find Joe Delia way, way, way out there — it’s an excellent area, and it’s always been good to us. And, there is a strong loyalty from fans; they hear good music and they just want to keep coming, and there’s strong, loyal support for them — it’s all part of a community. I also love that it’s so supportive — all of the musicians out here support one another, and that’s a rare thing; when someone’s down, everyone rallies together, so it’s a nice thing.”
  • Who is your favorite East End band or musician?
  • “Inda Eaton. I just love working with her! We sing together well, we think together well…when we’re getting together on one of her songs, and it’s something she’s still working on, I can take it someplace — she lets me be me. I may be backing her up, but I can take it someplace nice, and it’s nice. She makes you get so excited; she’s all about feeling it — feeling music, and having an organic thing happening, and that’s so much fun to be around!”
Share This!

Comments