It’s been a very musical September in Sag Harbor, and this weekend is going to push it over the top with the arrival of the 2nd Annual Sag Harbor American Music Festival, its broad diversity of musical entertainments blanketing Sag Harbor village in sounds from many musical traditions.
The biggest thrill this second year of the American Music Festival is the kick-off concert, on Friday, September 28, at Old Whalers’ Church (on Union Street), 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., the doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 at SagHarborMusic.org.
Saturday the 29th will bring an avalanche of free live music at every conceivable venue around the village. There will usually be three shows going on at once. You’ll wish you could see everything, and certainly the vibe will be relaxed enough so that you will be able to freely drop into the beginning of one concert and duck out to catch the end of another. Reflecting an expanded definition of “American music,” Saturday will kick off with Escola De Samba BOOM, a 30-piece percussion ensemble, at 11 a.m. at the Windmill (at Long Wharf). The Who Dat Loungers, a local New Orleans–style favorite, will do their Mardi Gras thing at Old Whalers’ starting at 12:30 p.m., while the straight-ahead jazz of the Richie Siegler Quartet will entertain at Life Style (Main Street) starting at 1 p.m. (encore at 4 p.m.).
Next up at 1:30 p.m. is Latin fusion with Alfredo Merat at the Sag Harbor Florist on Bay Street, while folkies Cassandra House and Caroline Doctorow get going at 2 p.m., at Geekhampton (Bay Street) and The Whaling Museum (Main Street) respectively. Bebop types will want to head to Suffolk County National Bank (Main Street) at 2:30 p.m. for Jim Campagnola Jazz; indie-rock mavens to Bookhampton (Main Street) at 3 p.m. to hear Rocket and the Ghost; and Sousa march aficionados to the American Legion (Bay Street) for the Sag Harbor Community Band, also at 3 p.m. The electric blues will be represented by The Buzzards, who will play at 3:30 p.m. at LT Burger (Main Street).
The late afternoon brings a swath of singer- songwriters, as well as some country and bluegrass. Singer-songwriter Robert Bruey will be at Sag Harbor Florist starting at 4 p.m., and teenaged ingénue-songwriter Sara Hartman at the Grenning Gallery (Washington Street) starting at 4:30 p.m., while Marriann Megna plays her original songs at the Hamptons Studio of Fine Art starting at 6 p.m. (23 Bridge Street). Meanwhile, at 5 p.m., Hopefully Forgiven plays alt-country at Bay Burger (Bridgehampton- Sag Harbor Turnpike); at 5:30 p.m. Astrograss provides bluegrass at Phao (Main Street); at 6 p.m. Joe Delia and Thieves rock at Muse (Main Street); and at 6:30 p.m., the Dan Bailey Tribe commences to reggae at Dodds and Eder (Bridge Street).
Fans of cabaret will get their fix at Romany Kramoris Gallery (Main Street) at 7 p.m. with Nancy Stearns. The serious-sounding Montauk Project provides original rock at La Superica (Main Street) starting at 8 p.m. Finally, for those who haven’t gotten enough by then, at 9 p.m. there begins an after-party at Bay Street Theatre (Bay Street) with Gene Casey at the Lone Sharks and the Mary McBride Band. The after-party is $10, with tickets available at the Bay Street Theatre box office on the day of the show.