Music fans are in for a serious treat when the Montauk Music Festival (MMF), a volunteer-run, grassroots live music event, celebrates its 10th anniversary from Thursday, May 16 through Sunday, May 19.
“In the ten years we have been producing the Festival, I have met wonderfully talented musicians, many of whom I now call a friend,” Sue Giustino, festival co-producer, shared. “I’ve seen them networking with each other, coordinating performances, and learning and growing through the experience of playing and attending the workshops. My husband is like the conductor directing and connecting all of the millions of moving parts that becomes this beautiful four-day performance each year. I’m proud to be by his side and supporting his efforts.”
The Festival will launch with a music-filled opening party Thursday night at the Westlake Fish House in Montauk at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s really amazing when I step back and I remember the first original stages on the green, with the one foot high risers and to see what it’s, you know, grown into… It’s recognized as an industry event at this point. So I’m quite proud of it,” Ken Giustino, festival co-producer, reflected.
After the opening night extravaganza, there will be three additional days of Artist Showcases, bringing 97 acts to various stages scattered across “The End.” “There’s going to be about 350 musicians here to perform,” he noted.
“Myself and my wife really enjoy seeing the bands come out and make connections and friendships and see them actually collaborate on some projects after they meet at the Festival,” he said. “I think that’s one of the reasons we started the whole thing was just to compliment the art and just seeing people meet and hanging out on the beach and then end up on the stage together during the Festival and it’s just a natural happening -that’s one thing we definitely do enjoy.”
Saturday and Sunday will bring open-air concerts to the Montauk Lighthouse, and overall over 40 venues, including John’s Pancake House Sidewalk, Naturally Good, Montauk Brewing Company, TAUK @ Trails End, Gosman’s, Lynn’s Hula Hut, Shagwong Restaurant and Bar, The Hideaway, Inlet Seafood, Montauket, Muse @ the End, Westlake Fish House, Sloppy Tuna, Memory Motel, and many more, will host performances.
“Without the workshops, there’s 420 shows, showcases. Our showcases usually run 50 minutes and the bands usually change over the top of the hour,” he noted. “It’s all based on their own original music, and, then the band will finish up and probably in an hour, two hours, they’ll have to be at another venue and they’ll perform the same act. So it’s just a very unique music festival, I think it’s just an original, one of a kind type of event.”
Ask the Experts! will offer the unique chance to hear from music industry veterans. “This year, we expanded on the workshops, having it at the Lighthouse has given us more opportunity and more room to do things. We used to do workshops only on Friday and now we’re able to do it Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So that’s an accomplishment also,” he relayed. This year’s guest speakers will include Steven Masur, Esq.; Elliot A. Resnik, Esq.; Lou Plaia, ReverbNation – Founder / EVP Industry Relations; Ian LaPlace, EVP and Senior Talent Buyer at Communion Presents; Randy Nichols, Founder, Force Media Management; Paul Adams, Manager, New Community/RocNation; Consuelo Sayago, CEO/Founder at CribNote Entertainment; Samantha Cole, Celebrity Voice Coach, and many more.
The performances will run the gamut, ranging from rock to pop to Americana to alternative to reggae, to country, and more.
As for who he’s most looking forward to seeing, Giustino was coy. “Yeah, there’s quite a few. I try not to talk about any one particular band because they’re all so great,” he explained. “There’s one band that came last year, Tuatha Dea, and they come from Tennessee. They’re a Celtic style band. They come in costume, but they’re born and raised in Tennessee, up in the Tennessee mountains and they also come from a tourist town. They put on such a great show last year. We also had them back at the summer concert. They ended up playing along with Paul Simon at the Lighthouse last August. He invited him on the stage and, it was a thrill for them and it was a thrill for us to see that happen. One of our hometown favorites is The Montauk Project.”
They also take pride in the growth the Festival leads to. “Kate Usher and the Sturdy Souls, a few years ago they came in as a duo and during the Festival, at the workshop, the industry workshop, one of the experts told them they really should develop a full band,” he noted. “And they’ve done that. So, they’ve taken it all quite seriously, and through the Festival, they actually made some connections with some of the industry people and have been able to get some really good shows under their belt. That’s the kind of stuff that we like to see happen, where the bands come in and they continue on.”
And, you never know who you’re going to see before they make it big. “Meghan Trainor was here at the second Music Festival,” he noted. “And she played at Lenny’s on the Dock at the time, which is now Swallow. We had put a lot of the younger bands there and a lot of their support was family members. Lenny had called me up during the show and he said, ‘You know, this girl’s gonna make it big.’ About two years later, he calls me up and says, ‘See, I told you.”
“We don’t take any credit for their success. We’re just happy to be there along the way,” he added.
For the Giustinos, they’re just happy to be able to provide an opportunity for the musicians to showcase their talents and enjoy Montauk. “I found that the bands had come and I would give them a couple of shows and then during the event, they would come over and say, ‘Do you have another show for us?’ And they just wanted to play,” he shared.
“We’ve enjoyed seeing Montauk’s music scene grow, looking forward, I’m eager to see where this musical journey brings us and Montauk,” she added.
With the exception of the opening night party, every Music Festival performance is free.
For more information, visit www.montaukmusicfestival.com.