Montauker Paul Simon played an unannounced live show at the Montauk Point Lighthouse on Saturday, August 25. The music legend’s appearance was joyous surprise for attendees of the Montauk Music Festival Rocks the Lighthouse fundraiser.
Watch the video from Long Island music fan and YouTuber Carole Cohen, aka Pittercone1, above.
Simon announced his retirement from touring earlier this year, but he agreed to appear at this fundraiser based in his hometown. This isn’t the first time Simon has played live on The End. The Montauk resident performed in seven Back at the Ranch concerts at Deep Hollow Ranch from 1990–1996, raising money to help fund a revetment project and brace the shoreline around the lighthouse.
Performing Saturday with local band The Montauk Project, Simon played a four-song set of his classics: “Late in the Evening,” “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” and “You Can Call Me Al.” His inclusion was not announced beforehand, but through the power of word-of-mouth, pre-concert sales surged 24 hours before the event to the maximum 500 tickets. Many attendees also bought tickets at the gate.
By the end of the night, the Montauk Historical Society—which owns the lighthouse—admitted at least 3,000 people to the show. Joe Gaviola, the Lighthouse keeper and Montauk Historical Society board member, told Newsday, “Paul wanted this to be a low-key event and to keep it local.”
Other performers included Jessica Lynn, Tuatha Dea and Montauk’s Kate Usher and the Sturdy Souls. While total donations have yet to be tallied, Gaviola was reportedly thrilled with the overwhelming results.
An important piece of Long Island history, the Montauk Lighthouse was authorized in 1792, under President George Washington. The first lighthouse in New York State, it currently stands as the fourth oldest active lighthouse in the United States. Its light can be seen over a distance of 22 miles.