Music Festival To Rock Montauk - 27 East

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Music Festival To Rock Montauk

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author on May 14, 2012

Montauk is for surfers. Montauk is for fishermen. And now, more than ever, Montauk is for musicians. And music lovers.

This weekend, 90 bands will invade the beach community for close to 200 total performances at more than 30 venues around town, from East Lake to the Montauk Point Lighthouse, for the third annual Montauk Music Festival.

And the best part: it’s free.

There is a history of music in Montauk, predating this festival by several decades, according to Montauk Music Festival founder Kenny Giustino.

“Back in the ’70s and ’80s, Jimmy Buffett and guys like that would come out here to get away from everybody and would jam in some of the bars,” he said during a telephone interview last week. “If you were lucky, you’d catch a private show. Entertainment and live music has always been something. We wanted to make it more obvious and more of a music destination.”

This festival is unlike many others, simply in that audiences won’t be hearing a single cover from any of the bands, Mr. Giustino said. It’s all about original songs, be it alternative rock, pop, folk, Americana, reggae, blues, jazz or bluegrass.

More than 600 bands applied to play the festival, which attracted 6,000 people last year, the organizer said. Mr. Giustino and his friend—and local musician—Lawrence Cooley narrowed the players down to approximately one sixth of the applicants, he reported.

About half of the performers are from out of town— from the tri-state area to California—while others have strong East End roots, including The Montauk Project, which was named after an alleged series of secret United States government projects involving psychological warfare techniques and exotic research, such as time travel, at Camp Hero, the Air Force station in Montauk.

The young band—which officially came together in February 2011—doesn’t necessarily sound like the typical start-up group. Three of its four members have been jamming together since they could properly hold instruments.

“We’re homies,” drummer and vocalist Jasper Conroy said during a telephone interview last week. “It’s a friendship thing. You have to be friends in a band or else it doesn’t work because you really spend a lot of time together.”

Thanks to his musical parents, Mr. Conroy started out playing music at just 5 years old. He began on piano and eventually graduated to drums when he was 8. He picked up guitar when he was a teenager.

“Drums are my forte,” the 26-year-old said. “The drummer really gets to hear everything that’s going on. The drummer is the backbone of the band. In one way, the drummer’s in the back, but in another way, the drummer’s in the front. It plays such a critical role in driving the music. Take away the drums and it’s a totally different sound.”

Mr. Conroy’s drums mixed with Matty Liot and Mark Schiavoni on guitar and vocals made up their sound during their East Hampton High School days. After graduation, they went their separate ways for a few years.

But by chance, they met back up on the East End for another round of music—this time with bassist Chris Wood on board.

“He really solidified the group’s sound because Chris is an awesome bass player,” Mr. Conroy said.

The Montauk Project has 2½ hours of original music prepared for its three shows this weekend—two on Saturday, May 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. at Montauket Restaurant, and Sunday, May 20, at 6 p.m. at the Montauk Point Lighthouse.

Some of the group’s influences include Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Black Keys, he said, and each of the bandmates work on different aspects of the music, Mr. Conroy explained.

“It’s very dynamic, there’s lots of moods to different parts of our songs. It’s very beat-driven with hard-hitting beats and pretty solid driving bass lines,” Mr. Conroy said. “I like to think it’s entertaining. It’s rock and roll. It’s why we play—to put on a good show.”

The Montauk Music Festival will be held from Thursday, May 17, to Sunday, May 20, at venues around Montauk. Meet the musicians at an Opening Night Party on Thursday starting at 8 p.m. at Gurney’s Inn. Tickets to the reception are $35 and include a three-hour open bar, hors d’oeuvres and seven live bands. The remaining performances throughout the weekend are free. For a full schedule of concerts, visit

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