The North Fork is getting ready to rock, as the 3rd annual NOFO Rock & Folk Fest kicks off at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue on August 19, but this year, fans can expect quite a different scene.
What began as a two-day music festival featuring international and regional musical acts, as well as local vendors and family activities, has been transformed into a concert series that will have different musical events throughout August, September and October.
“We were inspired by last year’s successful Johnny Winter show, which was far less complicated than a music festival,” said Jim Silver, general manager of Peconic Bay Winery. Johnny Winter had played a Father’s Day concert at the vineyard, which was both well-attended and easier to coordinate. “This year we thought, ‘instead of doing these complex festivals, let’s do a small series of concerts with interesting national acts.’”
“This approach will enable us to offer genre-specific showcases in lieu of a large two-day festival,” said Josh Horton, NOFO’s co-founder and organizer. In addition, it will allow for a more comfortable setting at a lower price point, and each show will still feature North Fork produce, wine, food and artwork.
“It’s more intimate” Horton said. “It’s on the great lawn at the Peconic Bay Winery, so people can expect an atmosphere where they can be barefoot and sit on a blanket or chair that they bring, and be merely feet from tremendous musicians and accomplished artists.”
“It’s not the large event that people are expecting,” Silver said. “We’re going to do a fish fry, so people don’t have to bring their own food, and it’s just going to be a wide open, folky kind of event.”
Despite the change to NOFO’s format, their mission to bring live music performances from both international and local artists to the North Fork remains the same. In keeping with that goal, two Long Island bands will be opening the show: The Second Hands, of Greenport, and Miles to Dayton, who’s song “Firefly” was recently featured in “O” magazine, as part of Val’s “Songs of Summer” playlist.
Horton, who is an accomplished musician, writer and show producer, started the Rock the Harvest Festival in 2009 to feature Long Island-based bands. “I’ve long thought that the North Fork is a prime place for additional live performance opportunities,” he said. “And Peconic Bay Winery has always been one of the most progressive and committed wineries on the North Fork when it comes to live music, so they were a natural partner for NOFO.”
The first concert in this series will celebrate the life and music of rock legend Levon Helm with their head-lining act, The Dirt Farmer Band, who are the core members of the former Levon Helm Band. “They’ve not only toured worldwide with The Levon Helm Band,” Horton said, “but they’ve also performed on all of the past three Grammy Award-winning albums that Levon put out.”
Levon Helm lost his battle with cancer this past April. “I thought that honoring him and all that he contributed to music, and to the world, was the right thing to do,” Horton said.
Playing in the Dirt Farmer Band will be Helm’s daughter, Amy Helm, as well as Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell. Campbell, who’s most noted for his time with Bob Dylan’s band, is both The Dirt Farmer’s musical director and frontman. “There’s no better group of people to bring to a show and stir up the essence of Levon Helm than The Dirt Farmer Band,” Horton said.
“The Dirt Farmer Band is just us continuing something we started with Levon and, while referencing material from those albums, turning it into something that stands on its own,” Campbell said. “We certainly enjoy doing what we’re doing, and I hope that it’s infectious enough for the audience to enjoy it too.”
“We’ve had more interest in The Dirt Farmer Band than almost anything we’ve ever done,” Silver said. “We get six or seven phone calls a day, and I fully expect it to sell out.” Better call soon!
For tickets and event information, check out www.noforockandfolkfest.com.