Sag Harbor is without a doubt the go-to place for live music in the Hamptons, and September is set to turn Sag Harbor into a kind of “Nashville on the Noyac,” if you’ll forgive the slight geographical inaccuracy. Already, there’s the Thursday Night Jazz Jam, packing people in at Bay Burger every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. Then there are the Main Street restaurants that regularly feature live music: Page 63, Phao, Muse, and even LT Burger. Classical recitals are frequent occurrences. And now, September brings Harborfest and the 2nd Annual Sag Harbor American Music Festival, which, along with other concurrent events, make for a greatly increased number of musical entertainments to choose from.
September 14 to 16, Harborfest, Sag Harbor’s annual street festival, will certainly bring more music to town, including local legend Nancy Atlas and her band the Journeymen taking the stage at Bay Street Theatre on Saturday, September 15 starting at 8 p.m. Atlas’s bluesy voice has been entertaining East Enders for quite a while now, and she has traveled far afield as well, opening for the likes of Elvis Costello and Crosby, Stills and Nash. For tickets visit firstname.lastname@example.org. Atlas’ music is “party hearty” stuff, and Bay Street’s got a serviceable bar in the lobby, so this should be a good time. Tickets are $15.
Classical music lovers will get a real treat on Saturday, September 22 when the Linden String Quartet appears at the Sag Harbor Cinema. Recent winners of awards from the Concert Artists Guild and of the Barnett Fellowship, the Linden Quartet is in residence at Yale University. Their Sag Harbor program will include Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 4, Dvorak’s “American” String Quartet, and music by William Bolcom and John Corigliano. The concert starts at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15.
On the last weekend of September, Sag Harbor will be bursting with live music as the 2nd Annual Sag Harbor American Music Festival takes over for two days, September 28 – 29. The biggest thrill this second year is the kick-off concert, on Friday, September 28, at Old Whalers’ Church, featuring legendary bluesman John Hammond Jr.. A blues musician in the classic mold, Hammond performs with just a guitar and a harmonica, plus his powerful voice, giving energy and life to the most American of musical styles. Likened to a “white Robert Johnson,” Hammond (who is the son of legendary A & R man John Hammond, the man who discovered not only Billie Holiday but also Bob Dylan, Sonny Terry and Stevie Ray Vaughn) has been a national act since 1962, known for his electrifying performing style and as a committed conservator of traditional blues. His show at Old Whalers’ starts at 8 p.m., and the doors open at 7 p.m.. Tickets are $20 at SagHarborMusic.org.
Like a lot of small towns, Sag Harbor doesn’t have its own, dedicated concert hall. This is where churches come in. The Sag Harbor American Music Festival this year has recognized the wisdom of putting a roof over the performers (after last year’s rain threatened to wipe out the festivities) and has moved some events into Old Whalers’. Another church that has long recognized Sag Harbor’s need for a musical venue is the more intimate Christ Episcopal Church, on the corner of East Union and Rt. 114. For many years, this church has run the Sunday Series, a variety of concerts in their beautiful, acoustically pleasing sanctuary. Indeed, the late, great Hal McKusick considered Christ Episcopal Church his favorite place to play in Sag Harbor.
On Sunday, September 30, Christ Episcopal Church will feature the return of Edna’s Kin, a family band that plays roots music, country, country gospel and blues. Local composer and performer Dan Koontz, who is the director of music at Christ Church, formed Edna’s Kin with his father and brother, and together they have been performing locally and across the tri-state area. Their appearances at Christ Church are always a rousing, toe-tapping good time. The show starts at 2 p.m., and tickets are $20 at the door.
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