The four-day Montauk Music Festival (MMF) will commandeer “The End” from Thursday, May 17 through Sunday, May 20, offering hundreds of spectacular shows throughout the Village – all of which are free.
“We selected about a 100 different acts and we’re doing 455 shows in the four days,” Ken Giustino, MMF Founder, shared. “We’re going to put in a couple of extra tents for the audience in case it does rain, and the show will go on rain or not.”
The Festival will launch with an Opening Party at the Montauk Yacht Club (on Thursday, May 17) that will feature nearly 30 performers alone. From 8 to 11:59 p.m., the bands will take the stage for set after set – with a brief break halfway through. Admission to the festival opener is $45.
“We’re doing three different stages. This will be the first time we do it at the Yacht Club and mid show they’re going to have some fire dancers out on the beach,” Giustino noted.
“Growing up in Montauk, summer and winter, there was always music—rolling over the hills of the ranches, thrumming around beachfires, and spilling out of the restaurants,” shared PJ Delia of Joe Delia & Thieves – who will be performing during the Kick-Off Party. “Joe and I feel the Montauk Music Festival amplifies and continues the tradition and we’re delighted to take part whenever our schedule lets us be home by the dunes.”
Performances will take place at over 50 venues in Montauk, including John’s Pancake House Sidewalk, Montauk General Store, Naturally Good, Montauk Brewing Company, Saltbox, TAUK @ Trails End, Montauk Yacht Club, Gosman’s Lynn’s Hula Hut, Shagwong Restaurant and Bar, The Hideaway, Inlet Seafood, Montauket, Muse @ the End, Westlake Fish House, Sloppy Tuna, Zum Schneider, Memory Motel, and many more.
“Most of the bars and restaurants are part of it. We set up sound systems in all of the venues and the artists perform 50-minute sets that are dedicated to their original music,” he noted. “This way they can come, plug in, do a 50-minute show, and a lot of them then have an hour-long break, and then they’re playing in a different venue.”
As for what can be heard, there will be something that appeals to everyone with performers showcasing rock, pop, Americana, alternative, reggae, blues, jazz, flamenco, country, and more.
“A couple of my favorite bands are the Sturdy Souls, they’re actually a Montauk homegrown band that have been together for about three years. There’s another band coming up from down South, Tuatha Dea, they’re going to be one of the bands that people will really get a charge out of,” Giustino shared.
While all the concerts are free, there is one locale that attendees will have to pay a minimal admission fee at, but the views and music will definitely be worth it.
“We’re also using the stage up by the Lighthouse on Saturday and Sunday,” Giustino explained. “It’s a natural amphitheater at the foot of the Lighthouse so we have different shows each day. It’s an amazing spot. The backdrop is the Long Island Sound and when you turn around you’re at the foot of the Lighthouse.”
For those that plan on concert hopping, the Festival has made that pretty easy to do. “We received a New York State grant for transportation and we leased two buses for the weekend – so there’s free transportation going from the motels to all the venues. The bus returns to the same spot every hour so you can navigate the whole festival on the free buses,” Giustino said. “It’s nice because it frees up parking and there’s less traffic. Last year was the introduction, so this year people will be more aware of it and be able to utilize it more.”
With its 10th anniversary looming, Giustino is thrilled that the Festival has caught on with locals and visitors alike. “This is our ninth year and when I started the festival, the weekend before Memorial Day was basically a ghost town in Montauk. The motels were open but they didn’t really have that many guests,” Giustino reflected. “The restaurants were open and they had staff with not much to do. I thought it was a good time to try and launch this idea where we have bands come and do their original music. There’s a portion of motels that donate rooms to put up visiting bands, when the bands perform at the restaurants, the restaurants will usually feed them and offer nice hospitality.”
Not only does it give tourism a boost, but it also allows the musicians to introduce themselves to new fans that might not have heard them otherwise. “The bands are able to sell their merchandise – CDs and shirts and things like that. The biggest thing is that you have an audience that appreciates music and that’s what it’s all about – the music,” he said. “The last two years RCA Records was here. They didn’t sign anybody but it was nice that they were actually talking to people.”
The volunteer-run, grassroots live music event also presents the chance for the musicians to meet with mentors during Friday’s Ask the Experts. This year’s event will feature Amaechi Uzoigwe, a NYC-based entertainment and digital media executive who represents Grammy-nominated hip hop phenoms, Run the Jewels; Elliot A. Resnik, Esq., who practices entertainment law at the esteemed firm Shukat Arrow Hafer Weber & Herbsman LLP; Lou Plaia, who co-founded ReverbNation; Ian LaPlace, EVP and Senior Talent Buyer at Communion Presents; Suzanne Paulinski,a mindset coach for music-preneurs; vocalist Corina Corina; Timothy Pattison, Director of Creative at Broadcast Music, Inc.; and Danielle Middleton, A&R Senior Coordinator, Sony ATV Publishing.
“One of my favorite parts of the festival is on Friday. We do a workshop, we have industry professionals come and talk to the bands. It’s free to participating bands,” Giustino told us. “This year’s we’re having a little bit more fun with it. On the Green where the main stage is, we have about six different tents, and at noon we’re going to use one of them with Yoga Lila who has offered a free class to the musicians. They’re going to do some yoga, then we’re going to have a lunch for the musicians, and then they’re going into these workshops/mentoring programs. That to me is an important part of any festival – an educational portion of it.
Those interested in the yoga class on the Green are more than welcome to join, and their entry fee will be donated to East End Cares.
For the full schedule, visit www.montaukmusicfestival.com.