What a weekend for live music! Friday night saw Leon Russell, the ultimate rock 'n' roll sideman, up close and personal as he fronted his band before a packed Stephen Talkhouse. Leon's rollicking piano and at turns euphoric howl and anguished screech — he remains a powerful and commanding performer at 71 — had the crowd hanging on every note and utterance as he led the band through highlights including "Hummingbird," "Wild Horses," and a medley of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone." Shades of the Concert for Bangladesh, the CD and DVD of which are highly recommended.
On Saturday night, the English Beat had the crowd jumping from the moment they took the stage under the big top at Rock the Farm, a benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project at Ocean View Farm in Amagansett. The ageless Dave Wakeling was in fine form as he led the band through hits including "Twist and Crawl," "I Confess" and "Save It For Later." The following night, the Beat performed up the road at the Talkhouse.
On Sunday, the Hot Pockets, a local band featuring yours truly, played a birthday party at the American Legion Hall. This would be unworthy of mention but for the surprise appearance of Toby Keith — or, if not the country and western superstar, an incredible simulation — who serenaded the birthday girl with a set drawing from his many hit songs. The guest of honor, to her friends' and family's delight, was beside herself.
From there, a quick trip to Gosman's Dock in Montauk to catch the latter moments of Mamalee Rose and Friends' rockin' R&B on the big stage delivered a bit of relaxation and the perfect ending to a long and eventful musical weekend.
Tomorrow night at 8, the Wailers will perform the entire "Survival" and "Exodus" albums at the Stephen Talkhouse for an exclusive SiriusXM satellite radio broadcast. The band features Aston "Family Man" Barrett, who played bass on many of Bob Marley's greatest hits and co-produced and was responsible for most overall song arrangements on Mr. Marley's albums.
As the working week winds down -- for some, anyway -- the Hamptons Weekend Preview will launch at a new location: Highway Diner, 290 Montauk Highway in East Hampton. Katherine C.H.E., a local singer, songwriter, and musician, hosts the show, at which performers of all stripes will offer a preview of their upcoming gig on the South Fork.
More big names are in store at the Talkhouse this week. On Saturday, Buster Poindexter, the longtime Talkhouse favorite also known as David Johansen, will perform at 8 p.m. On Monday, Dick Dale, "the original king of surf guitar," takes the stage, also at 8.