This Friday, the Annual Songwriters Share Concert Series welcomes back Gene Casey (of Gene Casey & The Lone Sharks) to the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse of the South Fork for another night of good music – with a special guest: Tricia Scotti.
It was the spring of 1988 that Casey left the music scene in Manhattan and traveled out to the East End. “I came out and I took a summer job working a construction crew just thinking that I’d be out for a couple of months, but I would up staying out many years. That summer of ’88 is when I kind of threw together the first version of the band,” shares Casey.
He recalls, “It was a lot of fun because there was no big concept, no great big master plan involved. Simply back then there were a lot of bars, a lot more bars, that had live music playing on the East End, and the pay was pretty good, much better than what I was used to playing for in Manhattan. I moved out east and I just threw together the band for the fun of it. I just figured let’s have fun on a Saturday night, and that spirit actually has remained, although now it’s my job.”
Gene Casey & The Lone Sharks is comprised of Chris Ripley, a drummer and jazz musician who has been with band since 1997; Paul Scher, a saxophonist from Minnesota and a Lone Shark since 2000; Pete Crugnale, one of the “finest rockabilly ‘slap’ bassists around”; Tricia Scotti on vocals and guitar who has previously shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen and Wilson Pickett; and Andy Burton, a pianist and organ player who has been a Lone Shark since the 1990s and has toured with Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright, and John Mayer.
“What was really nice about last year is that we did mostly original music, it was a showcase and a chance for people to kind of just sit there and listen,” says Casey. This year, “we’re going to do mostly original music but we’re going to do some favorites as well, perhaps a little more of a party than last year.”
On what he wants people to get from listening to the band’s music, Casey has this to say: “There’s no great mystery, it’s not very complicated what were doing. We’re obviously paying tribute to the traditions of roots music or Americana music. It’s designed to make people feel good and enjoy and celebrate the music, and it’s really a very simple message. What you see is what you get, we’ve been kicking around a long time, we still enjoy the music and try to honor the tradition every time we play.”
Casey also details the rewards of performing for local crowds. “I enjoy the fact that I’m not traveling four hours to a gig, most of the time I’m able to get home in the wee hours. That’s a good feeling that I can make a living without having to travel too far each time. The other things is that we’ve done a lot of benefits and fundraisers. We feel a part of the community, we feel like we have a place in the community and that people appreciate it.”
For this performance, Casey will be playing in support of The Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons, a North Fork-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that is committed to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick and injured turtles that are native to New York.
“That’s very gratifying, it makes you feel you’re not just playing music and being self indulgent. It makes you feel that what you do has value and is important to people. It’s really a nice thing when you walk into the hardware store and someone says ‘hi,’ that they saw you and they like what you do,” he notes.
This spring marks thirty years since Casey established both his musical and personal roots on the East End.
“I like to express that we’ve been doing this for 30 years and this will be the 30th summer,” shares Casey. “I am happy as a musician to still be able to grow as a musician and learn my craft and learn on the job. We basically love what we do and that’s why we do it out of the love.”
The Friday, May 4th concert with Casey starts at 7:30 p.m. and a reception will follow. General Admission is $20 and $15 for students and senior citizens.
“That is the American dream to me,” he added.
The Fourth Annual Songwriters Share Concert Series will wrap up on Friday, June 1 with The Songwriters Share Showcase featuring Job Potter, Sarah Azarra, Klyph Black, Sarah Greene, and Cynthia Daniels.
Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse of the South Fork is located at 977 Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike in Bridgehampton. For more information visit, www.facebook.com. For more information about Gene Casey, visit genecasey.com.