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Sep 22, 2009 3:00 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Bands gather at a winery for a Rock the Harvest benefit for The Retreat

Sep 22, 2009 3:00 PM

Is six hours of live music too much? Not by a long shot.

Especially when those six hours are dedicated to bringing together top original Long Island bands to celebrate harvest time at North Fork vineyards and raise funds for a South Fork charity. In fact, highlighting the talent and passions of musically minded East Enders couldn’t possibly fit into a single long afternoon.

In any case, music lovers can decide for themselves on Saturday during the second annual Rock the Harvest. The concert features six bands performing from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 26, at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic. The $20 admission includes live music, a glass of wine and a logo glass. In case of rain, the concert will be held October 3.

Proceeds from the event benefit The Retreat of East Hampton. The non-profit organization combats domestic violence by providing free support services to residents of both forks. To help get concertgoers into the mood, The Retreat is sponsoring a motorcycle run from Sag Harbor. Registration begins at 10 a.m. at the south end of the Long Beach parking lot; kickstands go up at 11 a.m. The $20 registration fee includes admission to the concert.

Performing at Rock The Harvest is The Nancy Atlas Project, the Kerry Kearney Band, Big Suga, Miles to Dayton, Big River Ransom and the High & Mighty Brass Band. Each band has ties to the East End and all boast reputations and fans in far-away places. In all cases, the bands are known to area audiences. Most have released multiple recordings.

The Nancy Atlas Project is a Stephen Talkhouse favorite. Big Suga is a North Fork based band that also plays at the Amagansett club. Big Suga is slated to return to the Talkhouse on October 3 and the Nancy Atlas Project will play there on October 9. Big Suga’s music is a mix of rock, soul and gospel, shaken into a high octane cocktail designed for dancing.

Nancy Atlas is every inch a performer, known for whipping crowds into a frenzy. Casting her spell with a voice people remember, she has opened or closed for a star-power roster including Lucinda Williams, Jimmy Buffett, Paul Simon, Dave Mason, Steel Pulse, John Hiatt, Dicky Betts and others.

The man who loans his name to the Kerry Kearney Band of Eastport is a blues icon. He’s headlined at the Riverhead Blues Festival and other gatherings. On October 3, he’s performing at the 19th Annual Cedar Beach Blues Festival at Cedar Beach Park in Mount Sinai. On October 10, he’ll appear at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead in a show presented by the Long Island Blues Society.

Miles to Dayton has filled the Patchogue Performing Arts Center, the Stephen Talkhouse, the Knitting Factory in New York, and venues across Long Island by drawing on a devoted fan base. They’ll perform their unique mix of rock, funk, classical and folk at Stony Brook Southampton on October 10. Audiences shouldn’t be surprised

when a cello and electric violin appear on stage.

Big River Ransom is an alternative folk group from Mattituck now working on their first recording. The High & Mighty Brass Band is a mix of New Orleans funk, rhythm and blues, hip-hop and Afro-beat. Horns are a big part of the groove they’ll be taking to Minton’s Playhouse in New York on October 12 and 19.

The heart and driving force of Rock The Harvest can be found in Big Suga. Rhythm guitar, vocalist and front man Josh Horton believed the combination of original bands celebrating the grape-growing innovations of North Fork farmers would be a winning one. Last year, he approached Pindar Vineyards owner Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos with the idea that bands playing original music could inject some new energy into his long-standing Harvest Festival.

Last year, three bands performed and drew a solid audience, despite unfavorable weather, Mr. Horton said. Performing were Big Suga, Frank Latorre and the King Bees, another area favorite, and the Knockout Drops. This year, the band lineup was doubled and a charity selected.

Including non-profits was a natural for Mr. Horton, whose family has been devoted to community service for generations. Public service also runs in the family. Mr. Horton served for two terms as the Southold Town supervisor. His mother, Gail Horton, was a Greenport Village Trustee. Mr. Horton is now Corcoran’s senior managing director for Westhampton Beach, the North Fork and Shelter Island.

The Retreat was an easy choice for him and the selection committee. Like the musicians and the North Fork farmers, The Retreat is homegrown. The organization is headquartered in East Hampton but reaches those in need across the East End. Mr. Horton manned a booth at the Greenport Maritime Festival last weekend to raise awareness of The Retreat and for the upcoming show.

The Retreat also shares a knack for innovation in raising awareness and funds, trying out such approaches as using Facebook and sponsoring events like Artists Against Abuse, the Hamptons Road Rallye and a juried art show with the first place winner awarded a Hamptons gallery show. A July paddle organized by Paddlers for Humanity was yet another effective collaboration with an outside group, said Retreat Executive Director Jeffrey Friedman.

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