August 8, 2016 Great South Bay Music Festival Closes Out In Style Patchogue, NY 7-17-16
After three exceptional days of music diversity, Sunday July 17th marked the fourth and final day of 2016’s Great South Bay Music Festival down in Patchogue, New York. Treated to Alternative Rock, Country, and Jams, attendees were ready to take one more hot summer’s day with some of Rock’s most prominent names. Thankfully, due to the rain that took place the day prior, Sunday’s finale found the summer heat not as oppressive, while another nice breeze came in off the bay as everyone shuffled in for food, music, and a good time.
Seeming each day garnered a different theme, the musical theme of this day was one of a more open and laid back feel. It included many genres of music, but if one genre were to stand out, it would have been the interjection of Classic Rock. The Dream Stage, also known as the main stage, provided several major acts, but there were two other stages for fans to catch some other talents as well. The Jambalaya Stage had The Montauk Project, Sir Cadian Rhythm, The Electrix, Soundswell, Memphis Crawl, and Sonic Bliss, while The Clamshell Bandshell had Nexus, Zofolk, Chris J. Connolly, John Sparling, Second Child, as well as Aztec Two Step. A nice mix of Long Island based bands, it gave the day a nice flavor of sounds everyone wanted to check out.
In addition, the festival was also a family friendly event, kicking off at noon with Laurie Berkner in the Clamshell Bandshell. Berkner is very popular with the fans of Children’s music; so popular that People Magazine has called her “The Queen of Children’s Music.” They also had a Kidzone with performers for the little and big kids alike. There was also a Pirate show and later a Pirate Treasure hunt, Pat Darienzo – Magician, Cheryl – Walk Around, Lena & The Happy Clam Band, and the Hoopsie Daisies to dazzle the audience with their fancy hoop skills and even teach them how it is done.
With a great deal to offer, a big crowd was forming at the opening of the entrance to the main stage. With the flood gates opening, devoted fans came rushing in to see Long Island’s own Cassandra House with her band – Jonathan Preddice (cello/vocals), Anthony Pravata (lead guitar), Dave March (bass/vocals), and Chris Marshak (drums).
Setting a perfect mood to start the day, House is a local singer-songwriter well-known for her songs that evoke emotion and spirit with a style that reflects a time-gone-by Folk twang mixed with modern day clarity. With a soothing tone to her voice and a strong band keeping the beat, they performed mostly original music including fan-favorites “Tidal” and “Goodnight, Marionette,” as well as a fresh take on the Eagles’ song “Take It To The Limit.” House was warm with the audience, often speaking to them between songs, and at the end of the set she expressed her gratitude to all who came out to see her. House plays around the Long Island area often, so be sure to check her out.
With the sun shining brightly above, nice puffy clouds would float by giving brief moments of shade throughout the afternoon. With that, the grounds of the main stage area were filling up steadily and a growing crowd made their way up front to get closer to long time favorite, Singer- Songwriter John Sebastian. Known best as founding member of Lovin’ Spoonful, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2000, Sebastian has also had a very successful solo career on top of it all. With many chart-topping hits, including the hit song from the 1970’s television series, Welcome Back, Kotter, fans were ready to sing along to some all-time classic Rock tunes.
Clearly excited to be at the festival, Sebastian came out with his guitar and a big smile on his face. Without the accompaniment of a band, his years of experience showed as he confidently took command, captivating the audience with the rich histories behind the songs he played. Having everyone singing along, some of them included favorites such as Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Do You Believe In Magic,” “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice,” “Jug Band Music” and “Daydream.” He also spoke about his love for Long Island and how several hit songs were actually written while he was staying in the area. With much appreciation, he thanked his fans for coming and that he was glad to be back on Long Island. Those who missed Sebastian’s performance, chances are he will be back on Long Island sooner than later, but he will also be continuing to performance through much of the fall.
Before the next act, the audience dissipated to freshen up with some drinks or eats, thanks to many food vendors on hand. Soon after, the main stage area began filling back up with people setting up their blankets and chairs; further back some had shade umbrellas. Ready to go, the third act of the day would be the legendary NRBQ (New Rhythm and Blues Quartet), who formed down in Kentucky back in 1966. Since 1969, they have released twenty studio albums, including their praised 2014 effort, Bass Tracks. In addition, they have put out numerous live albums, toured consistently, and keep the band’s legacy strong.
Founding member of the quartet, Terry Adams (piano/keyboards/vocals), followed by Scott Ligon (guitars/vocals), Casey McDonough (bass/vocals), and John Perrin (drums), came out together to a sea of cheers. Taking it all in, Adams wore a fun playful hat, lei, and of course, his bright, glowing smile. Ready to go, the band began jamming as everyone danced and sang along to “Peanut Vendor,” “Captain Lou,” I Want You Bad,” along with“Ridin’ In My Car.” Feeling the energy and good vibes NRBQ was putting out, everyone was also enjoying a cover of “Take The A Train” by Duke Ellington. Not that any encouragement was needed, Adams often stood up throughout the performance and encouraged the fans more by saying, “Let’s have some fun!” All in all, they put on a fantastic set that is perfect for a summer music festival setting.
While the grounds of the festival were all a buzz, amazingly, more people were still coming in. While some people wandered around checking out other acts and vendors, as soon it came time for Australia’s Colin Hay, the masses rushed back over to the main stage to check him out. On the music scene for nearly four decades, Hay is best known as the frontman of the Australian Rock band, Men At Work. Initially breaking up back in 1985, Hay embarked on a solo career and since has crafted twelve studio, including his latest release in 2015, Next Year People. Spending the summer of 2015 on tour with the likes of Barenaked Ladies and The Violent Femmes, Hay also has devoted a lot of time to intimate acoustic performances all over The States. A delightful experience for those who have experienced it, the accomplished artist was ready to showcase his personal performance to this Long Island crowd.
Coming on stage with his wife Cecilia Noel (vocals), San Miguel Perez (guitar), Yosmel Montejo (bass), Charlie Paxson (drums), and Fred Krone (keyboards), Hay kicked right in with a classic Men At Work cut, “Down By The Sea.” Throughout his set, they played favorite Men At Work songs such as “Who Can It Be Now,” “No Sign Of Yesterday,” “It’s A Mistake,” the jazzy “Overkill,” and quirky “Down Under,” while mixing in his solo material including “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” as well as the brand new unreleased song, “Come Tumbling Down.” Offering delightful vocals, Hay’s band was equally as tight and full of energy, inviting everyone to let loose with the music. Then Noel was given full reign to perform her Latin version of classic AC/DC track “You Shook Me All Night Long.” A surprise to many, everyone was jumping and singing along as Noel pumped up the adrenaline to a new level. Upon the conclusion of the set, Hay sincerely thanked everyone for coming out, and judging by the reaction, everyone was equally as appreciative for his appearance. While Hay now turns his attention to shows in the United Kingdom, he will be back in the USA come the fall for dates sprinkled in September and November, so do not miss him.
As the day was moving along, the sun’s pitch started to lower in the sky and the warm golden glow was about to greet the next band, Railroad Earth. Forming in 2001 out in Stillwater, New Jersey, they have a unique sound that have some describing it as Newgrass Jam music. With seven studio albums to their credit, they are well-known for their improv style of performing, one which engages audiences in an extraordinary way. Made up of six free-spirits, Todd Sheaffer (lead vocals/guitars), Tim Carbone (guitar/violin/accordion/vocals), John Skehan (mandolin/Irish bouzouki/vocals), Andy Goessling (guitars/banjo/dobro/lap steel/mandolin/flute/pennywhistle/saxophones/vocals), Andrew Altman (bass), as well as Carey Harmon (drums/percussion/vocals), Railroad Earth were revved up to keep the good vibrations coming.
Immediately having everyone swaying to the music, they took the crowd on a journey through each song, jamming some longer than others, but it was always smooth and stylish. At times the swaying would break out into dancing as they kept the crowd moving to the beats on “Right In Tune,” “Potter’s Field,” “Crossing The Gap,” “Real Love,” and “The Forecast.” Without much conversation between songs, the music did much of the talking as the crowd cheered as Railroad Earth would flow from tune to tune. Finally taking a breather, at the end of the set, Sheaffer smiled and thanked the audience for their support. Releasing Last Of The Outlaws back in 2014, Railroad Earth continue to support the new material and heat up stages across the country from now through October.
The near picture perfect day gave way for a beautiful summer’s night as the sun started to set with vivid pinks, purples, and orange hues filling the sky. A breathtaking sight to see, a nearly full moon began to rise and the grand finale of the day was about to take place with English Rock hero Graham Nash. A legendary performer, Nash has been on the music scene since the early 1960’s when he began with his band The Hollies. Known to be a deep thinker and active in social issues, Nash teamed up with David Crosby and Stephen Stills in the late ’60s, thus forming Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Being a part of two unforgettable bands, Nash has won a Grammy Award, has been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame for his solo work, as well as been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once as a member of The Hollies and again as a member of Crosby Stills and Nash. Although, his accomplishments go beyond the world of music with Queen Elizabeth appointing him an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions as a musician and as a philanthropist. In addition, Nash’s 2013 autobiography was on The New York Times Best Seller list, he is an accomplished photographer, and 2016 album This Path Tonight broke the Billboard 100.
With so many accolades, a packed tight crowd of all ages cheered loudly as Nash walked out on the stage. Smiling as if he was overwhelmed by the response, Nash waved to them just before strapping on his guitar and getting the music going. Accompanied by Guitarist/Vocalist Shane Fontayne, a musician who has been working and touring with Nash for quite some time now, they would play a full spectrum of Nash’s hits from over the years. Adding more emotion to it all, Nash regularly spoke about the rich history of the songs before playing them. These tidbits of information gave the audience more insight to favorites such as “Marrakesh Express,” “Immigration Man,” “Military Madness,” and “To the Last Whale…” Changing it up, Nash presented new song “Myself At Last,” off The Path Tonight. Quite a personal album, Nash opened up by saying “This is a new song, I’m dedicating it to my girlfriend, Amy Grantham, she saved my life.”
Going on to offer fans more history, he explained the song he and Fontayne wrote, one entitled “Mississippi Burning.” Taking time to capture the moment, Nash looked at the sky over the bay and commented, “What a nice moon.” It certainly was, but everyone was so mesmerized by Nash they hardly noticed until he mentioned it. Back to the music, Nash played “Wasted On The Way,” “Back Home,” “Chicago,” as well as “Cathedral.” As the night came to a close, he suggested everyone sing along. The fans were eagerly ready to comply as they literally all sang “Our House” with Nash, and since they were doing such a fine job, he let them sing the last verse without him.
Waving good night, no one was ready to say goodbye as everyone hollered and screamed, then chanted, “One more song!” Soon enough, Nash and Fontayne came back out to give the audience a few more songs. After playing a stellar version of the Beatles’ song “Blackbird,” they played “Just A Song Before I Go,” again as many sang along to every word. But that was not it, they would play one last sing along song, one everyone participated in, “Teach Your Children.” A perfect way to end this family friendly festival, Nash was the equally perfect finale of all four days.
Overall, Great South Bay Music Festival was four days of eclectic music, summer heat, family fun, and good times. Everyone in attendance enjoyed the music on all three stages, the awesome food offerings, the best craft beers, visiting the many arts vendors, but most of all creating memories together. Here is to ten more years of the Great South Bay Music Festival, a modern Long Island summer tradition.