Musicians Decry Hamptons Live Music Law

Buster Mulligan rails against controlled covers and the East End Live Music Control Act
Buster Mulligan rails against controlled covers and the East End Live Music Control Act, Photo: Dunca Daniel/123RF

Hamptons Police Department officers were on hand as the Hamptons Town Board meeting last Tuesday became the site of tension, with local musicians decrying the East End Live Music Control Act, which includes rules put in place over the last year giving officials tighter control of live music across the region.

“We put these rules in place because of large numbers of complaints,” Hamptons Music Council chairman Fred Solomon explained. “As far as we can tell, these regulations have cut down on a lot of abuses which had been running rampant in local nightclubs and bars.”

Among the rules causing the most consternation for musicians are those regarding so-called “controlled covers“—a set of restrictions placed on playing selections from an extensive list of overplayed cover songs. The list includes favorites such as “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Sweet Caroline” and “Me and Bobbie McGhee”—songs that have been known to cause severe trauma to those who have been forced to hear them thousands of times.

Many musicians at Tuesday’s meeting have found that the entirety of their repertoire falls into the controlled cover category. “What if my fans request ‘Moondance?’” asked local rocker Buster Mulligan during a public question and answer period. “Or what if it happens to be, in fact, a marvelous night for a ‘Moondance?’”

Mulligan’s question received applause from some musicians in the room, but the Music Council was unmoved.

“I’m sorry, but the rules say that you can play ‘Moondance’ once per month,” Chairman Solomon shot back, “and we feel this has been an effective way of protecting patrons from the damaging effects of these pernicious songs.”

The meeting broke up peacefully at 11:30 p.m.

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