The Montauk Point Lighthouse is the fourth-oldest active lighthouse in the United States and the first to be built in New York State, authorized by the Second United States Congress 225 years ago. This weekend—Saturday, September 16—the Montauk Historical Society (MHS) presents the inaugural Great Eastern Music Festival at the world-famous Montauk Lighthouse.
The festival will feature an eclectic mix of Americana, Roots and Bluegrass music. Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees, one of the bands performing, shared some of the words used to describe their music: “psychedelic, folk, indie rock, space banjo.” Yes, please! Savino, who grew up not too far away, is very much looking forward to being in Montauk. “I dig the small town vibe of Montauk and how it feels so different than any other town on Long Island,” he said. “It feels like not much has changed there since the ’60s, and that’s what I enjoy about it.”
Another band that will be playing, Dustbowl Revival, has played all around New York State, but never in Montauk. “Bet it’s very nautical and chill out there,” says band member Zach Lupetin, adding, “I hope there is some tasty seafood. Also maybe they’ll let us climb up that lighthouse.” Yes, Zach, there will be tasty food aplenty, including seafood. According to Greg Donohue, a member of the Lighthouse board and Head of the Lighthouse Erosion Board, there will be food caterers on site, dishing out grilled and deli delights, empanadas, seafood, fish tacos and ice cream. The Montauk Brewing Company will be serving delicious beers, and several East End wineries will be also be on hand. There will also be a host of artisans presenting their wares: Ditch Ink, Two Jamming Chicks, Grain Surfboards, Shade Amore and Southampton Soap, among others.
As for the sound of Dustbowl Revival, Lupetin says the band has “always been musical chameleons.” The band started in L.A. nearly a decade ago as “a roots orchestra of sorts,” he says, “assembling instruments from the jazz, soul and funk tradition, merging them with instruments from the folk and bluegrass tradition and experimenting with making new standards. Our newest record is much more our own sound—I like calling it folky-funk. Storytelling with a righteous groove.” Lupetin also admits to having some “rowdy relatives” at the end of the island “so it should be a blast.”
Yes, it should be a blast. And you’ll be helping a good cause: Proceeds from the event will fund ongoing maintenance of the Lighthouse and the maintenance of the retaining wall on the ocean side. “When nobody at any level of government wanted to assume the responsibility of taking care of the Lighthouse, the Montauk Historical Society (MHS) stepped up,” Donohue says. More than two million visitors later—105,000 last year alone—the Lighthouse is now a National Historic Landmark. But expenses are adding up. “In a good year we can manage day-to-day operations, but capital projects are out of our reach,” Donohue said. “We just hired an international chimney corporation to tell us what the tower needs at this point. That professional inquiry cost us $80,000–plus. The MHS will have to agree to a $1 million account for the future maintenance of the new erosion control upgrade. It’s fair to say we have some challenges at hand.”
So bring your sunscreen, something to sit on (blanket, folding chair), some bug spray, a good attitude and some dancing shoes out to Montauk this weekend!
The Great Eastern Music Festival 2017 takes place at the Montauk Lighthouse on Saturday, September 16 from 10 a.m.–7p.m. Gates open at 9 a.m. Visit greateasternmusicfestival.com for tickets and more information.