Live Music is Back — and Safe — at Stephen Talkhouse

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Nancy Atlas and her band performing a socially distanced set of music at Stephen Talkhouse. Ellen Dioguardi photo.

By Marisa Valentino

Music lovers rejoice! Stephen Talkhouse, the famed intimate music venue in Amagansett, is finding new ways to share live music during the pandemic.

On July 30, the Talkhouse kicked off a new series with musical artists performing inside the space and audiences sitting outside listening to the concert on nearby speakers and viewing it on video screens. Concert-goers can sit at patio seating, tables in the back bar, or behind the building at picnic tables. Various big screen TVs, speakers and a projection screen are set up so the performance taking place inside the venue is always visible. In the future, a feed allowing performers to see the audience will be installed.

“It’s a way to safely experience the show with other fans and support local performers and us in these tough times,” said the Stephen Talkhouse website.

Though legally, the Talkhouse is permitted to open its indoor areas, the decision was made to structure the musical performances with audiences seated outside for extra safety. Other safety precautions include sanitizing surfaces, allowing one person in the bathroom at a time, requiring visitors to wear masks whenever they are not at their table, and providing hand sanitizer.

In terms of the music, there are plenty of East End musicians to provide the entertainment.

”Luckily, we live in an area where you’ve got a lot of very good homegrown local talent and you’ve got a lot of transplanted talent because there’s people coming out here that have second homes,” said Nick Krauss part owner at Stephen Talkhouse. “If everybody was stuck in place we could put together a pretty good rotation for some time.”

The idea to host events this way was inspired by G.E. Smith, a touring guitar player for Roger Waters, Bob Dylan and former bandleader for Saturday Night Live, and his wife Taylor Barton-Smith, a musician and author, along with local musician Nancy Atlas. All three strongly believed their fan base would turn out and show support for this concept, help making it successful. It seems they were right, as the first two shows were sold out.

Last weekend, Joseph Arthur and G.E. Smith performed the venue’s first live performance since it closed in March due to COVID-19. Ticket sales were limited to around 60 “so we could make sure that we could distance people legally,” said Krauss. “We could have done more people, but we just wanted to make sure that we could do it right. And I think we did.”

Stephen Talkhouse is planning to continue this concert series for the remainder of the summer. Although, this new way of hosting concerts is not a permanent solution, said Krauss. “We’re hoping to get back to normal in 2021.”

Upcoming scheduled Stephen Talkhouse concerts include: Jenni Muldaur & Teddy Thompson on August 6; Nancy Atlas and Inda Eaton on August 7; Hot Lava on August 8; Hello Brooklyn on August 15, Black & Sparrow Duo on August 22; Booga Sugar on August 23. Tickets are $20 to $40. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7:15 or 7:30 p.m. The Stephen Talkhouse is at 161 Main Street in Amagansett. To purchase tickets, visit stephentalkhouse.com.

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