Phoebe Legere Rocks Stephen Talkhouse May 14

Phoebe Legere
Photo: Bobby Miller

Locals will remember the days when singer-songwriter Phoebe Legere held court at the old Bobby Van’s grand piano. She played the classics along with her own music,- one song she titled, “In the Hamptons.”

On Saturday, May 14 at 8 p.m., Legere will play a show she’s calling “Locals Only” at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett. Legere and the Tit 4 Tat band will kick off the summer season with a rollicking musical party of original blues, Cajun, rock and pop.

Legere is an internationally recognized multi-instrumentalist, composer and artist. She plays seven instruments, including one she invented specifically for physically challenged children. During the past few years she’s been on tour with her music and exhibiting her paintings around the world. She’s written and starred in an original musical—Elizabeth and Shakespeare—and lectured on art, feminism and Franco-American culture at universities and libraries. But, as she says, “I’ve never been away from the Hamptons for very long. I always return to the East End between my projects to refuel. The exquisite light and air charges my batteries. I love painting oil landscapes here—I work en plein air standing right in the middle of the beauty drinking it in! I hear music coming out of the clouds. This soil, this sky, this ocean, this nature, is so full of life but delicate and very endangered. Our Hamptons are gorgeous.”

One day, in 2013, “while taking my bike for a spin on the beautiful back roads of Sagaponack, I imagined building a 15-person giant Eagle bike that runs on alternative energy.” Legere debuted the Shamancycle vehicle, a rideable sculpture, at Burning Man that year. It’s now used to help elementary school students learn about eco friendly power.

With such a continuous and diverse body of work, it’s hard to imagine when Legere has time to sleep. Last year she filmed a documentary for HBO that celebrated East Hampton and local artist Hilary Knight. Lena Dunham produced the film. HBO licensed Legere’s song, “Hip Hop Frog,” about conservation and energy, for the soundtrack. Currently, Legere is writing a new original musical commissioned by the Theater for the New City.

“Hip Hop Frog” will be on her set list at the May 14 Talkhouse show, which will be a mash-up of some of her most well-known songs including “Marilyn Monroe” and “Hot Sicilian Pizza Boy.” Legere will play the accordion, guitar and piano, as well as dance and sing with her Cajun band, featuring Mike Oakleaf and Tom Fitzpatrick. She will use the occasion to celebrate the writing of her 700th song, “Heart of the Summer,” about the Hamptons.   

Promising to present her signature brand of fun, Legere has also planned a quiet tribute to her brilliant friends who have passed, including David Bowie (for whom she opened on his Sound & Vision tour), Larry Rivers, George Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson and Terry Southern, in a song she wrote about the power of mentors. Called “La Baie De Chaleur,” the song will be included on her upcoming all-French album.

The “Locals Only” performance will also feature her song “Ok Cupid,” about electronic dating. The track can be found on Acadian Moon, one of Legere’s 15 CDs, and features her cousin Ray Legere on fiddle.

All proceeds from the Talkhouse event will be donated to the New York City Festival for Gifted Children, which plans to hold a free summer camp for low-income children in 2017.

For Legere, who has traveled the world, it’s the East End where she feels most at home. “You might say the Hamptons is my motivator, spearhead and my muse. I get some of my best ideas while playing golf, walking on the beach, sailing and running.”

Phoebe Legere plays the Stephen Talkhouse, 161 Main Street, Amagansett, on Saturday, May 14 at 8 p.m. Tickets to this show are likely to sell out.