The North Fork of Long Island New York is one of the hidden gems of the North Eastern portion of the United States. With the Long Island Sound on one side and a stretch of bays on the other, the villages from Riverhead out to Orient feature some beautiful natural landscapes, an abundant amount of wineries, and quaint feeling away from the stress of New York City. Enchanted by the area, back in August of 2013, legendary music producer and co-founder of Chic, Nile Rodgers, decided to host a charity concert with Adam Lambert as a guest at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. A successful event, two years later Rodgers has returned inspired to bring a touch of music culture back to The East End, announcing the first ever FOLD Festival. An abbreviation for Freak Out Let’s Dance, FOLD Festival was scheduled to be held over two days, August 4th and 5th, gracing the grounds of Martha Clara Vineyeards, featuring a diverse lineup of some of the biggest names in the music. Setup amidst the beautiful vineyard, one large stage was constructed with the sprawling grape vineyards as the backdrop, as a smaller tented area stood a few thousand feet away for DJ sets throughout the night.
Estimated to draw nearly ten thousand people over the two days, one could imagine a massive traffic jam with the road system surrounding it only having one lane going each way. Thanks to the organization of Rodgers’ team there was no sign of any such jam as all concert attendees parked at an off site location and were bused over to the vineyard for the concert. With that worry out of everyone’s mind, the mood was relaxed and joyful as patrons walked into Martha Clara Vineyards on opening night, Tuesday the 4th, ready to dance their troubles away.
Starting the party out was French DJ Greg Cerrone. Son of the one of the most influential European DJs of the ’70’/’80s, Cerrone, Greg has had music flowing through his blood from the start. Kicking off his career in the early 2000’s Greg Cerrone has played opening DJ sets for a mass of prestigious events, released nine albums, and established his own record label, On Air Music. Setting the mood with his fluent mixes, Greg Cerrone had everyone moving from the start and all while displaying an affectionate smile on his face.
Up next was the Miami based DJ duo known as GTA. Consisting of Matthew Van Toth (Van Toth) and Julio Mejia (JWLS), their production consists of a mix of Hip Hop, Salsa, and more, for a unique, popular brand of House music. Having performed at events all over the world, GTA took the stage of Fold Festival with confidence, keeping the beat steady, loud, and ear-catching to the mass of people that began to form on the festival fields.
The Martinez Brothers
Bringing on more talented DJs, The Bronx New York’s own, The Martinez Brothers, came out next to pump up the volume. Coming together back in 2007, the duo consists of Chris Martinez and Steven Martinez. Built a massive name for themselves in the House genre, they sustained a long-term residence at clubs on the beautiful island of Ibiza, and in 2014 were named as DJs of the year by Mixmag. Releasing a series of EPs through their busy touring schedule, in 2014 they dropped the remix album Cuttin Headz Expose, and in May of this year followed up with the EP Masters At Dutch. Seamlessly flowing from track to track in their mixes, they captivated the FOLD Festival audience with a ton of onstage charisma. Their September schedule continues with a date in New York City kicking off the Labor Day weekend before heading to Chicago, Los Angeles, and finally over to Europe into the end of the month.
Destiny Arts Center Dancers
Keeping the evening entertaining, a young group of talented dancers from Oakland, California’s Destiny Arts Center moved their way onto the stage. Destiny Arts Center is an inspiring group that prides themselves on taking youth out of violent situations, they believe in peaceful forms of expression and setting a course for a positive lifestyle. As the dancers made their way out, it was easy to see the enthusiasm on their faces as they grooved around in unison and showed immense skill. The audience was appreciative of their efforts and gave them a roaring ovation which was most certainly deserved.
With the sun setting and the grounds packed, it came time for legendary Funk Rock band Chic. Begun back in late 1970’s by Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards, Chic’s 1977 self-titled debut album was a hot ticket, but 1978’s C’est Chic topped charts at the height of the Disco craze. Following with Risqué in 1979, Chic became one of the biggest bands in Disco with their unmistakable style. Always highlighted by the voices of the Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin, Rodgers often was in the background for many years, but it was clear he was a masterful talent. In fact, outside of Chic, Rodgers has worked with everyone from David Bowie and Madonna to Duran Duran, selling over 200 million albums and 50 million singles worldwide. Keeping Chic alive through the years, showcasing a variety of different lineups, 2015 see’s the band with Rodgers on guitar, Jerry Barnes on bass/vocals, Ralph Rolle on drums/vocals, Kimberly Davis on lead vocals, Folami on lead vocals, Richard Hilton on keyboards, Russell Graham on keyboards, along with Bill Holloman and Curt Ramm on horns.
Ready to rock, the band wasted no time and went right into hits like “Everybody Dance,” “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “I Want Your Love.” Having everyone singing and dancing along they kept the fun coming when Rodgers spoke of some of his work through the years before they went into his co-penned hits for Diana Ross, “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down.” Sounding crisp and tight, the band provided plenty of color as Davis and Folami shined on vocals throughout the set, playing on with more co-written Rodgers hits like Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and the crowd rousing “We Are Family.”
Knocking out a set that lasted over two hours, playing their own tunes, along with being the backing band for appearances by Paloma Faith, Pharell Williams, as well as Keith Urban, it seemed as if Chic were tireless despite the heat and humidity. Through it all, Rodgers acted as the Mc and did a fine job doing with his natural kindness as he continued telling stories of the past and showing great appreciation for everyone who came out to Fold Festival. Rodgers even spoke of his cancer diagnosis a few years back when the doctors told him to go home and get his affairs in order. A bleak diagnose, Rodgers defied the odds, battled through, and is now in remission, making for an extremely inspiring story. Having the audience on cloud 9 with the music and the stories of life, Rodgers and Chic also mixed in some great songs like David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” with Rolle on vocals, and set closers “Le Freak” and “Good Times.” Thankfully for everyone this was not the last they would see of Chic, as the band would return for night two of FOLD Festival as well.
Gracing the stage with a guest appearance during Chic’s set was English singer/songwriter Paloma Faith. Known for her soulful, jazzy retro sound and style, Faith began her career back in 2007 and has since released three records which went multi-platinum in the UK, including her most recent in 2014, A Perfect Contradiction. Touring extensively through Europe most of 2014, Faith made special North American appearance through September and October of 2014, and FOLD Festival was honored to have her return stateside.
Coming out in a beautifully bright and eccentric wardrobe, Faith lit up the stage joining forces with Chic as she sang Sigma song “Changing” and her “Mouth to Mouth” off A Perfect Contradiction. Reaching for the sky with her singing, Faith was simply astounding to all in attendance, even those who were not so familiar with her work. It is just a matter of time before she tops charts in the USA just like she has done in Europe.
Showing FOLD Festival had no lack of star power, the multi-talented, singer/rapper/songwriter/producer Pharrell Williams was also featured on FOLD Festival. Williams’ story dates back to the early 1990’s when he spent most of his time behind the scenes, writing and producing for other artists such as Wreckx-N-Effect (writer) and Blackstreet (producer), among others. Further expanding his credits, Williams co-formed Alternative Hip Hop band N.E.R.D in 1999, and in 2006 released his solo debut album, In My Mind. Red hot, and with so much already accomplished, Williams showed he still had not peaked with the mass success of 2014’s Girl, making him one of the world’s most well-respected producers/recording artists.
Coming out to join Rodgers and Chic, the collaboration was nothing less than marvelous as they played their co-written Daft Punk hit “Get Lucky.” Moving about the stage and engaging the audience, Williams was in high spirits as they went into another favorite co-written by him in 2013 with Robin Thicke, the irresistible “Blurred Lines.” With everyone bouncing around Williams time on stage came to a close with his mega-hit “Happy” before he embraced Rodgers for a emotional hug. Williams has three dates in line for September and his latest single “Freedom” is out now.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated acts of the star-studded evening was New Zealand-born Country Rock superstar Keith Urban. Beginning his journey back in 1991 when he released his self-titled debut album, it garnered so much attention in his homeland that he made the jump to move to the USA to further pursue his career. Releasing his second self-titled album in 1999, Urban was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest artists in Country Rock of the forthcoming new millennium. With a sound that crosses genres, Rock fans can easily dig Urban’s style and Country fans can love it as well as proven with the success of four top selling records from 2002’s Golden Road to 2013’s Fuse. On top of that, Urban has also been a judge on such popular television talent series as The Voice and American Idol, along with introducing his own signature guitar line in 2013.
An undeniably handsome man, Urban came out with the poise of the star he is, but with the vibe of an everyday guy who just wants to rock-n-roll. With a smile from ear to ear, Urban lifted off into a lengthy set with Rodgers and Chic as they played songs such as his 2002 hit “Somebody Like You.” Sprinkling some killer guitar solos, Urban dazzled as he and Rodgers stood side by side for a jam session this crowd would never forget. Treating everyone to other well-known cuts like 2009’s “‘Til Summer Comes Around,” many were seen with their hands in the air as they sang the words out-loud. Showing the appearance would have no shortage of surprises, American Idol season 5 contestant, Tyra Juliette joined Urban, filling the role of Miranda Lambert, for a beautiful duet on “We Were Us.” Rodgers stated during the set that he knew he had to team up with Urban at some point, and lucky for FOLD Festival, it really happened.
Making way for the final act of the night, Germany’s Thomas Gold came to the stage for one final DJ set. Coming onto the scene in 2006, Gold has achieved a series of big international hit singles over the past few years. Now an act many festivals seek to headline, Gold took on FOLD Festival with his electronic mixes that had everyone bopping around. Filled with heavy bass and impeccable feeling for the groove of the music, Gold’s set was received with warm praise from the audience. Gold returned to New York on August 29th when he headlined at Governors Island, so be sure to check out his pages for future appearances around the area.
Wrapping up night one of Fold Festival was Alternative Rock icon Beck. Hailing from the Los Angeles California area, Beck gained popularity back in the early 1990’s with is own unique blend of Alternative Rock different from others on the scene at the time. Touching on Country, Blues, Rock, Pop, Hip Hop, Electronic, and everything in between, Beck’s experimental style was most widely recognized to the masses in 1994 with the official debut, Mellow Gold. Since dabbling in a variety of styles, Beck has become a leader in Alternative music, and in 2015 was awarded a Grammy for album of the year, in honor 2014’s Morning Phase. Performing a series of shows back in May and June, no major US touring has taken place in the Summer of 2015 for Beck, thus why this appearance at FOLD Festival was that much more anticipated by fans. In fact, many had come from as far as Pennsylvania and New Jersey just for a chance to see Beck and his band.
Coming out to a sea of cheers, the band of bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen, guitarist Jason Falkner, drummer Joey Waronker, and keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning Jr. took their places before Beck himself rocketed out as they opened with 1996’s “Devils Haircut.” Keeping the pedal to the metal, he immediately jolted into one of his most recognized early hit, “Loser.” Over two decades old now, the track still provokes a major reaction from audiences and nearly everyone could be heard singing along the chorus. Moving along with a balanced set of songs covering most of his discography, Beck treated fans to tracks like “New Pollution,” and “Hell Yes,” which saw pumped out the hook from Busta Rhymes “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.”
Keeping the set full of danceable songs in theme with FOLD Festival, the groove bass of “Think I’m in Love” came on with backing vocals from Falkner and Meldal-Johnsen, featured a bit of Donna Summer’s 1977 hit “I Feel Love” toward the end. As Beck bounced around the stage with his hands in the air and keeping the energy level high, an extra special treat came when he made FOLD Festival the first to ever to hear his latest single “Dreams” in a live setting. Containing the signature guitar sound of Beck, the Disco inspired tune was a major hit with the crowd and had many wondering when a new album will follow.
Rounding out the set with a mix of 2005’s big hit “Girl” and “E Pro,” along with 1999’s banjo and horns tingling “Sexx Laws” and the funky “Debra,” the band saved the best for last. Bringing Rodgers out on stage once more, Beck and his band’s finale came with “Where It’s At.” Transforming the song into a guitar laden jam session, it lasted nearly thirty minutes as they segued into encore presentation of Chic’s “Good Times” and The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.” Putting on an unbelievable show that was filled with flair and top notch musicianship, Beck proved why he is a world class talent. He continued his festival touring throughout Europe for most of August and on the 25th made an appearance on stage with Taylor Swift in Los Angeles for a performance of “Dreams.” Elated for the chance to see Beck in this rare Long Island performance, FOLD Festival was only getting warmed up with acts like Duran Duran, Chaka Khan, and Janelle Monáe lined up for a massive day two.