By Mahreen Khan
The village will be jumpin’ and jivin’ lager this month, at the seventh annual Sag Harbor American Music Festival, Thursday, September 21 through Sunday, September 24.
New this year is a festival within the festival, with the introduction of a mini folk festival on Sunday, featuring between eight and 10 acts under a 20-by-40-foot tent in Marine Park.
“We’ve been growing organically these past seven years,” said Kelly Connaughton Dodds, president and co-artistic director of the Sag Harbor American Music Festival. “We’re a charitable organization, and all the money we raise goes to pay our musicians, our production fees, all of our promotions and that sort of stuff. The local businesses are essentially the people who are funding the festival, so it’s supported by local people for local people, and of course anyone visiting Sag Harbor.”
Sunday’s “Family Fun Folk Fest” will include a performance by Caroline Doctorow and the Steamrollers, and Cricket Tell the Weather, says Dodds, with many more acts still being confirmed. The day’s affairs will include face painting, food and live music – and the Dan Bailey Tribe is scheduled to close out proceedings with a community drum circle.
“One year was gospel, last year was jazz, this year is folk,” Dodds said. “The mini folk festival is going to be bookended by an emerging artist showcase at 11 a.m. We’ve got lots of younger artists out there that have been reaching out to us that are just so talented, but we’re not big enough to showcase everything that we want to do.” Along with the showcase, Dodds is planning a musical puppet show for Sunday as well.
Brad Penuel, lead vocalist of Hopefully Forgiven said he and his group feel they have climbed the festival’s ranks over the years.
“We started out, I believe in the festival’s first year, playing on the sidewalk in front of the bank,” he said. “Then the following year graduated indoors to a packed LT Burger. And now to be featured as a headliner, on an actual stage, is a real honor.”
The group will be premiering their debut album, “Soaked,” on Saturday.
“To have such a high quality and professionally run event in your back yard is a rare and precious thing,” Penuel said. “Bands are sited in unexpected places; alleys, bookstores, and us, for example, in the Whalers’ Church. It’s not just a festival, but a musical scavenger hunt.”
“Our vision was pretty small, it’s pretty humble and the way that it’s grown speaks directly to the public’s response,” Dodds said. “They’ve been very supportive, have been wanting more and we’ve been getting more donations. That’s why we’ve been increasing in size from year to year.” She said the festival’s focus is bringing roots American music to the masses, in as accessible a platform as possible.