Live music at bars and restaurants is a popular offering in the Hamptons, and many provide beautiful background music that sets the mood the evening. Then there’s Cabaret at Claude’s, featuring Russian piano prodigy Konstantin Soukhovestski. After the spectacular prix fixe dinner concludes, and desserts are passed out by waiters with various accents, the man of the hour steps onto the stage with all the powerful flamboyance of a peacock draped in Swarovski crystals.
A hush falls over the dining room as Soukhovestski begins sharing his intriguing life story, beginning in Soviet Moscow with his family of artists. He then plays the classical French song “Clair de Lune,” which he points out most people only know from Ocean’s Eleven. His fingers glide across the white grand piano’s keys gracefully until the time comes for him to pounce on them like a fox catching its prey.
The act continues like this for one glorious hour: story, song, story, song. Soukhovestski’s charming personality, interesting anecdotes and mastery of the ivories hold the audience in a trance, never once letting go until his standing ovation. In one story he opens up about his first baseball game—when he was a teenager his host family took him to see the Cincinnati Reds. After hours of rain finally dissipate and the players take to the field, he’s invited into the announcer’s box to wish everyone good luck, which the non-native English speaker does by yelling into the microphone, “Have a great basketball Olympics!”
The wide range of songs played to perfection include several classical ballet and opera pieces, “Like a Virgin” and “Vogue” by Madonna, “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic and a different Andrew Lloyd Webber selection every week. (His The Phantom of the Opera performance is particularly breathtaking.) It’s incredible that Claude’s is only charging $40 for such an incredible experience, plus a complimentary a glass of wine. Although, the $75 prix fixe that includes a ticket to the show, any one appetizer, main course option and choice of wine or dessert is particularly enticing. Claude’s is located in the Southampton Inn at 91 Hill Street, Southampton. 631-283-6500, southamptoninn.com
Of course, there are a lot of options in the Hamptons for listening to live music while you grab a bite. Cabaret is fabulous, but you can catch a more casual vibe at Westlake Fish House, located at the Westlake Marina in Montauk. The setting is about as old-school Montauk as you can get, and while the Hamptons summers seem to get fancier every year, at the Westlake they’re preserving an atmosphere of laid-back calm. As the sun starts to go down, kids and parents play Ring a Bull and beanbag toss out back while fisherman on the docks clean the day’s catch. Customers place their drink and food orders at the window—choosing from great fresh local fish and seafood plus many local craft brews on tap—and virtually every night a great local band sets up outside to contribute to the low-key party atmosphere.
Among the local bands in regular rotation at Westlake this year: the Lynn Blue Band, The Woodworkers, the Sturdy Souls and the 3Bs. These are bands that play your favorites—and the music’s never too loud. The music starts at 6 p.m. and continues until 9 p.m.—that’s when the local noise ordinances kick in. Westlake Fish House has outdoor seating, but if you’re in the mood to boogie that can happen too. Westlake Fish House is right on the water at 352 West Lake Drive, Montauk, 631-668-3474, westlakefishhouse.com
Get your jazz on with the Jam Session at Bay Burger in Sag Harbor, 1742 Sag Harbor Turnpike, where they have live jazz every Thursday night from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. Bay Burger, a very kid-friendly burger stand with a high-brow approach to fast food—Bay Burger’s burger is considered one of the best in the Hamptons—also has highbrow taste in music. And what started there almost 10 years ago as an informal, weekly jazz jam has evolved into a full-fledged series featuring great players from across the region, as well as talented locals who step up to blow over a tune or two.
Coming up in July, the Jam Session at Bay Burger will feature the band Pocket Change, performing the music of the Crusaders on July 19, and on July 26 the special guest will be the Iris Ornig Quartet. But take note: the Jam Session is very popular, and it’s often standing-room-only for much of the night. For all the details, visit bayburger.com or call 631-899-3915.