The fifth annual Sag Harbor American Music Festival kicks off with its first main stage concert this Friday, September 25. Continuing through Sunday, September 27, the three-day festival will be a music lover’s paradise as local, national and global blues, roots, folk, rock and pop acts celebrate Sag Harbor through music with more main stage performances and intimate, free shows around the historic whaling village.
Festivities begin in Sag Harbor’s Old Whalers Church at 8 p.m. on Friday (doors open at 7 p.m.) when local singer-songwriter Caroline Doctorow opens for the Fairfield Four, best known for their appearance in the Cohen Brothers classic O Brother, Where Art Thou? and that film’s popular soundtrack. The Fairfield Four’s a cappella gospel style has earned them two Grammy Awards, two lifetime achievement awards and a place in the Gospel Hall of Fame. General admission for this concert is $25 (limited reserve seating is $45), available here, but most of the Festival’s shows are free and open to the public.
A day absolutely loaded with music, Saturday gets off to a loud start at 11 a.m. when 30-plus-piece percussion band Escola de Samba Boom plays an eye-opening show on Long Wharf. Their Brazilian-style drums will get everyone dancing and ready for the next 12 hours of nonstop tunes at spots all over Sag Harbor. A full schedule of shows , many overlapping, fills the day with artists such as Nancy Atlas, Joe Delia & Thieves, Hopefully Forgiven, Mambo Loco, Inda Eaton, Winston Irie, In Circles, HooDoo Loungers and more. Each free show is sponsored by a local business.
The morning, afternoon and evening of free music leads up to Saturday’s main stage show, The HillBenders present The Who’s Tommy, A Bluegrass Opry, from 9–10:30 p.m. at Bay Street Theater (1 Bay Street). The show is based, of course, on The Who’s original 1969 rock opera about an emotionally damaged, deaf, dumb and blind kid who becomes a “wizard” at playing pinball—though it’s done with a bluegrass twist. It has received rave reviews and was named among the “50 Best Things We Saw at SXSW 2015” by Rolling Stone magazine. Tickets, available here, are $25 and doors open at 8 p.m.
On Sunday, the Festival concludes with a Gospel Brunch with The Ron Crichlow Ensemble at Harlow East restaurant (1 Long Wharf) in Sag Harbor. Open at 11:30 a.m. (music starts at noon), Guests at the brunch will enjoy delicious food and a killer view at the waterfront eatery, while tapping toes to the inspirational sounds of the The Ron Crichlow Ensemble, a high-energy gospel group of childhood friends from Queens. The show is free but the food is not. For reservations and information call Harlow East at 631-725-5858.
This year’s original artwork by painter Maryann Lucas (illustrated below) features musicians playing at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum. The original painting is being raffled off through Romany Kramoris Gallery (41 Main Street) in Sag Harbor and will be on view in a booth by the Festival’s outdoor “Off-Main” stage (next to the American Hotel), where raffle tickets will also be sold. The raffle winner will be drawn at the end of day on Saturday. Prints of the art from all five festival seasons can be purchased at the Off-Main stage booth as well. Call 631-725-2499 for more info about the art and raffle.
For the complete Sag Harbor American Music Festival schedule, including 25 free shows on Saturday, and to purchase tickets, visit sagharbormusic.org.