The South Fork’s entertainment options have increased with the launch of a series of live music events at the Leo, the nightclub on Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton.
The series began the night before Thanksgiving with a performance by Winston Irie and the Selective Security Band. A D.J. followed.
Frank Cilione, who has owned the property since 1998, has alternated between operating the establishment and leasing it to others. He retook the reins and opened the Leo in June. Over the years, it has existed as a live-music venue, nightclub, restaurant, or some combination, and has hosted internationally touring artists including the Ramones.
“I’ve been thinking about doing this for a couple of years with this property,” Mr. Cilione said last week. “To just be a high-end, New York-oriented club doesn’t work anymore. I see that there’s a ton of people living out here, and the demographics would embrace a live-music format much more. We’re opening the doors to everybody, whether you’re 21 or 91.”
He plans to host a wide variety of performers, he said, from jazz to rock ’n’ roll, as well as D.J. sets, a format he likened to the House of Blues chain of venues. “It’s going to run the gamut — anything from a solo violinist to a 10-piece hard-core rock ’n’ roll band.” Comedians and other entertainers will also be featured, he said. “Nothing is off the table.” Mr. Cilione’s father, a musician, will assist in ensuring a diversity of bookings.
“We’re going to get away from promoter-driven formats,” Mr. Cilione said. “The venue and the talent will be the draw. There will be no velvet rope, where it’s pick and choose” as to who is admitted. “It’s not going to be a chichi, intimidating presence.” Patrons will be admitted, “whether you’re Quasimodo or Cindy Crawford.”
Mr. Cilione stressed that the Leo will be a year-round venue, and activity in the off-season will not necessarily be confined to weekends. That will depend on when performers are available, he said. “We’re in discussions with live music venues in the city to collaborate,” he said, to bring artists to the Leo before or after dates in New York City.
The venue’s main room can accommodate 250 people, Mr. Cilione said. Patrons will be able to see and hear the performers from an adjacent patio.
He promised at least two live-music events in December, and a New Year’s Eve party. “We’ve got a couple of interesting bands in the pipeline. Once we lock them in, we’ll announce who they are.” The plan is to hold three to four performances per month throughout the winter, and in the spring, an affordable, family-oriented restaurant will open there, he said.
“I think residents are going to embrace it,” Mr. Cilione said. “Live music is the common denominator. Nothing makes me happier than to see a venue that has old, young, and everything in between.”