Sag Harbor American Music Festival
The Fifth Annual Sag Harbor American Music Festival is next weekend.

For the fifth year in a row, the streets and venues of Sag Harbor will come alive next weekend with the sounds of distinctly American forms of music.

The Sag Harbor American Music Festival, organized by Kelly Connaughton, has been held in the village the final week in September since 2011. It’s a weekend that showcases both East End musicians and distinctly American forms of music — from the blues to jazz to gospel, country and rock ‘n’ roll.

This year’s headliners include The HillBenders, who plan to present The Who’s “Tommy” at Bay Street Theatre in a distinctly American style — as a bluegrass opry.

Rolling Stone magazine says of their performances that “You haven’t heard ‘Acid Queen’ until you’ve seen it sung by a bearded man with a mandolin.”

The 75-minute live performance, on Sept. 26 at 8 p.m., covers the original album from start to finish, with video accompaniment and audience participation. Tickets are $25 and are available online here.

The weekend kicks off Friday night, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. with performances by the South Fork’s own roots music star Caroline Doctorow, opening for gospel powerhouse The Fairfield Four at the Old Whalers Church.

The Fairfield Four have won Grammy Awards for Best Traditional Gospel Recording for their recording of ‘I Can’t Hear Nobody Praying,” and Album of the Year for their soundtrack to the Coen Brothers film “O Brother Where Art Thou.” They also have won two Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards and were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999. Tickets are $25 and are available online here.

Maryann Lucas's original painting for this year's festival, "Musicians at the Whaling Museum"
Maryann Lucas’s original painting for this year’s festival, “Musicians at the Whaling Museum”

Ms. Connaughton originally envisioned the Sag Harbor Music Festival as a series of free concerts on the streets and in the restaurants and shops of Sag Harbor Village, and this coming weekend keeps up that tradition, with more than 25 bands performing throughout the village between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday.

Among the bands performing are Mamalee Rose & Friends, Mambo Loco, Joe Delia & Thieves, Nancy Atlas, the Ludmilla Brasil Trio, the PitchBlak Brass Band, the Screamin’ Rebel Angels, Ada Rovatti, In Circles, the Sag Harbor Community Band and the Montauk Project. The full performance schedule is online here.

Sag Harbor artist Maryann Lucas has been designing original posters for the festival since its inception, and this year the organizers are raffling off her original painting of “Musicians at The Whaling Museum,” which is currently on view at the Romany Kramoris Gallery. Raffle tickets are available at the gallery or by calling 631.725.2499.

On Sunday, Sept. 27 at 11 a.m., Harlow East restaurant on Long Wharf is hosting a gospel brunch with the Ron Crichlow Ensemble. Brunch reservations are available by calling 631.725.5858.


Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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