The Sag Harbor American Music Festival is now officially an annual event, after the resounding success of the inaugural event last year. Live music will again fill the streets, restaurants, galleries, shops, and historic spots throughout the village beginning on Friday, Sept. 28, and continuing with free shows the next day. The number and variety of musicians and venues have taken a huge jump, with more than 20 musical acts scheduled to perform outside, all with contingency plans should rain overcome shine.
Kicking off the festival on Friday, Sept. 28 will be an 8 p.m. concert by John Hammond, a legendary bluesman, at the Old Whalers Church. It has a $20 ticket price. After the daylong festivities on Sept. 29, the finale will be an after-party at the theater from 9 to 11 p.m. featuring Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks and Mary McBride. Ms. McBride’s performance will coincide with a return to her East Hampton home after a world tour that took her to Afghanistan. Tickets to the roots and rockabilly show cost $10, available on that day only. Kelly Connaughton, the founder of the festival, has suggested getting to the box office early that day, as only 300 tickets will be sold.
“I am cheered the festival is including local music, reflecting a healthy little scene many artists have worked hard to keep alive,” said Mr. Casey, who is no stranger to the Bay Street Theatre, and a big fan of it. He formed the Lone Sharks when he moved to Sag Harbor in 1988, and looks forward to seeing some familiar faces. Having traveled the East Coast’s roots-rock circuit since 1990, the rockabilly and rhythm and blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist now plays from Manhattan to Montauk and has several original CDs to his credit.
Escola de Samba Boom will hit it on Sept. 29 at 11 a.m. and wake the village from Windmill Beach. Boom, a 32-piece Brazilian percussion ensemble, is led by Richie Siegler, who will also perform a few sets at 1 p.m. with “a really interesting group of musicians from New York” on the Main Street lawn of the Life Style boutique.
“Jazz is my passion,” said Mr. Siegler, who has kept busy all summer with trios and quartets playing primarily private parties. “Young hipsters are digging the jazz now” too, he said Sunday. He promised the afternoon performance would have Latin, Brazilian, and Cuban influences.
Another returning and crowd-pleasing performance will be a 12:30 p.m. show on the steps of the Old Whalers Church. Joe Lauro’s Who Dat Loungers, a New Orleans party band, brings lighthearted fun and welcomes dancing and all things Mardi Gras. Last year’s show inspired this year’s official festival painting, “Musicians at Old Whalers Church” by Maryann Lucas, a local artist. On display at the Romany Kramoris Gallery on Main Street, it will be raffled for $10 per ticket to support the festival.
At the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, the folk and roots music of Caroline Doctorow and the Steamrollers can be heard at 2 p.m. Jim Campagnola, a sought-after saxophonist, keyboardist, guitarist, composer, arranger, and bandleader from New York City, will play outside Suffolk County National Bank at 2:30. Also coming east for the day will be Rocket and the Ghost, a modern acoustic rock duo that has been compared to the White Stripes. That show will be at 3 p.m. at BookHampton.
With its decades of practice in giving classic Americana concerts, the Sag Harbor Community Band will once again be outside the American Legion Hall on Bay Street, this time at 3 p.m. Down the street, in front of the Sag Harbor Florist and Made, its neighbor, Robert Bruey, a singer and songwriter from the North Fork, will perform at 4 p.m.
Among the festival’s new venues this year is GeekHampton, also on Bay Street, where the folk, alternative country, and blues of Cassandra House can be heard at 2 p.m. LT Burger on Main Street will host the Buzzards, a bluesy rock band, at 3:30, and another burger joint and longtime supporter of local music, Bay Burger, just a short trip south on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, will have the country, folk, and rock of Hopefully Forgiven at 5 p.m. Muse in the Harbor has invited Joe Delia and Thieves to rock the restaurant at 6 p.m.
As part of the festival’s Twilight Lounge from 6:30 to 8:30, light refreshments alongside fire pits will be within the sculpture garden at Dodds and Eder, behind the west side of the Main Street shops. Another returning crowd pleaser from last year, the Dan Bailey Tribe, will perform reggae and African music there.
Art lovers can take in three gallery performances: Sara Hartman at 4:30 p.m. at the Grenning Gallery, Mariann Megna at 6 at the Hamptons Studio of Fine Art, and cabaret with Nancy Stearns at the Romany Kramoris Gallery at 7.
The off-season festivities help not only musicians who often struggle to make a living, but also local businesses. Ken O’Donnell of La Superica said he was “truly amazed at the wide range of people it drew last year.” He said he was impressed by the variety of musical genres and pleased with the extra business it brought in. The Montauk Project, a Sag Harbor-born band that plays rock ’n’ roll, will be back at the restaurant this year at 8 p.m.
“I think Sag Harbor is doing it right again musically,” said Alfredo Merat, a veteran Latin-fusion musician who will perform at the Sag Harbor Florist at 1:30 p.m. “A florist!” he said excitedly. “Last year’s turnout in the streets, shops, and restaurants showed that people care about live music.” Phao restaurant, which Mr. Merat manages, will sponsor Astrograss, an eclectic bluegrass band from New York City, at 5:30 p.m.
The singer and songwriter added that he hopes the festival results in an amendment to village law, which currently prohibits plugged-in music in village restaurants.
“Children love it too,” Mr. Merat said. It “truly is important that they get exposed to live music.” A new addition for the young ones this year is a musical puppet show by Liz Joyce of the Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre at 1 p.m.
Music fans can come by land or sea, what with public transportation from the North Fork available by water this year thanks to the Peconic Jitney, which will run its normal schedule. The Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s Web site offers ideas for dining and lodging at hotels and bed and breakfasts. Restaurant reservations have been suggested.
Ms. Connaughton, whose idea in 2009 became the impetus for the nonprofit festival, has been keeping very busy with promotion, fund-raising, marketing, and bookings, with help from Laura Grenning, John Landes, and Kerry Farrell, as well as the many local donors and sponsors. With “no large capital,” she has worked diligently to bring music to the village without going into the red.
“The community support is the reason it has grown,” she said on Sunday, and she could use some volunteer ambassadors to help welcome visitors and hand out programs. She recommended volunteering by way of a Facebook message.
The festival, Mr. Siegler said, is “a way to celebrate live music, and it is good for business, attracting people to the village in the off-season — that’s what it’s about.”
The full schedule is available at sagharbormusic.org.