The archaic music laws in East Hampton’s town and village have become incredibly unpopular over the past year or so, and for good reason. Countless meetings, whether civic, governmental, or even panel discussions run by newspapers, are focused on revitalizing the main streets of the hamlets in East Hampton, and live entertainment is a good way to do that.
But when the laws prohibiting live music at restaurants went into effect in 2008, it didn’t just spring out of thin air. There were specific complaints that led to that code change. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was the same year that a couple of places in Montauk began to offer up a venue for local bands, and the neighbors were none too pleased.
However, 2008 was a long time ago. It was the beginning of the financial crisis, a time before local businesses were hanging on for dear life, and when the stores were still chock full of tourists and their wallets. Now, the metronome has swung in the other direction, and the musicians — who live, work, and pay taxes here — are letting their voices be heard, and luckily the local boards are starting to change their tune.
When an area starts to die off, it’s hard to bring back the crowds, especially when corporate pop-up shops and empty storefronts leave the local year-round residents with no reason to visit Main Street except to see a movie and grab a slice.
It’s time to bring back live music to restaurants and other venues, and as soon as possible. Villages like Greenport, Sag Harbor, and Patchogue have managed to tread the line between pleasing the residents who want to maintain the beauty of the area and keeping the towns lively. Let’s take a lesson from their songbooks and do the same.