As a teenager, Mick Hargreaves lay on the gold shag rug in his home with headphones on, dissecting Beatles’ albums like a million other American kids across the country. He knew he wanted to make music. “Meanwhile, I picked up the cello, which wasn’t really cool,” he said, “especially if you had to get on and off the bus with it,” which he did, in Miller Place, where he grew up.
He set off on a course which brought him to his own office at a tony Time Inc. magazine, but music was always there. He would frequently gig in and around the city and then sleep on his office couch, his bass amp hidden under the desk.
But by July 2011, Hargreaves had left the publishing world and was already established on the East End music scene, and in fact, spent the morning working on a song with Montauk rocker Joe Delia.
In his own words, from a Vimeo version of “Crystal Ball” Hargreaves recorded about five months later, “Joe Delia was pretty far along writing this song, and asked me to contribute some lyrics to get it 100 percent done. The morning of Saturday, July 30, 2011, we completed a piano and vocal demo of the song at his place in Montauk. That very night, Mick Hargreaves & The King Guys had their debut show at the Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport.”
If Hargreaves had possessed a crystal ball, he might not have shown up at the gig — or maybe he would have anyway. It utterly changed his life when he was attacked later that night by a homeless man with a crowbar, which left him unresponsive, with two skull fractures and a mass of staples in his head for the serious head injuries he sustained.
Other musicians rallied together and held a benefit concert for him, when in the weeks and months afterward it was unclear how permanent the damage might be. Luckily, it wasn’t, at least not noticeably. “I guess I don’t know what I lost that night,” he said. But he is aware of what he gained — a permanent sense of gratitude for just being alive, and for the way the local music community came to his aid.
He had always combined his musical craft with a fierce political standpoint, offset somewhat by a geeky love of retro engineering boards and other sound equipment, and ran a mobile recording studio on the East End for a time. But when he found — on Craigslist, no less — a property in Manorville, he knew what he had to do.
Hargreaves is the chief — well, only — bottle washer at Lantern Sound Recording Rig. His description of the place? “We are ‘Big Pink’ on steroids, stuck inside a Norman Rockwell painting that hangs in Edward Hopper’s house, located on farm, park, and preserve land. Pure vibe. Two floors of modern, vintage, analog gear, live drum room, ambient staircase, isolation chambers, baby grand piano, country kitchen, full accommodations.”
He’s also hosted several invite-only “Live On The Farm” house concerts, featuring assorted musicians and songwriters, recorded in the laid-back studio, sometimes alongside a big pot of chili and cold beers.
Hargreaves is headed to Nashville next week, to the 2018 Americana Music Festival and Conference, September 11 to 16, to play bass with Pete Mancini (perhaps known best for his band Butchers Blind). “I play bass for a lot of artists here, including Pete and Bryan Gallo.”
He’s particularly pumped about his recent gigs with Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks. “It’s amazing to me because I was in that audience for, like, 20 years. And I’ve been in bands that shared a bill with Gene, and it was like a rock moment, because everyone has to elevate their game when Gene is there.”
But his main focus is the studio. The rates are reasonable, and there are rooms for the musicians to stay and hang out. “It’s, I hope, a creative space where bands can work together and rehearse and record, like they used to do. The recording business has become overly technological and almost sterile. This is a top-notch set-up, but it’s also relaxed.”