Back in the 1970s, Montauk was playground to the likes of Mick Jagger and Jimmy Buffett. They would come out to unwind, often finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places.
For Jagger, it was the Memory Motel—eponymous with a track off the Rolling Stones’ 1976 album, “Black and Blue,” and home to one of the venues of this weekend’s Montauk Music Festival.
Now in its sixth year, the festival will feature 80 up-and-coming bands playing 250 concerts in 40 locations, from Thursday, May 14, through Sunday, May 17. Bars, restaurants and the Montauk Village Green will be host to a range of different sounds, from rock, blues and reggae to jazz, Americana, country and flamenco.
“I wanted to work with Montauk businesses, generating extra revenue for the community, and I wanted to embrace local, working independent bands and songwriters,” explained founder Ken Giustino, whose experience booking bands at Kenny’s Tipperary Inn in the 1990s was the genesis behind the event. “Creating this music festival was a great way to do that.”
The four-day festival provides a sense of discovery for music lovers, who may have heard Meghan Trainor at the second annual event; she has since gone on to have major success with her hit single, “All About That Bass.” For some of this year’s artists, the same could be in store.
Among them is solo songwriter Paris Ray, who will play seven shows this weekend and describes her music as “a Tuesday morning cup of tea in the rain. Songs that take you on a lyrical journey through a mixed array of adventures and emotions.”
She added, “It will be so inspiring to be around so many musicians and songwriters who understand and share the same passion for music as I do.”
Amagansett’s own indie rock band WhaleHeart will play three shows over the course of the festival, according to fully bearded lead singer Chris Clark. He describes his band’s sound as “a tin can rattling around in an intergalactic trash can—and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The great thing about the festival is, we get to play to a larger, more diverse crowd,” he continued. “Playing various music venues during the festival gives us, and other local performers, further exposure, and, hopefully, that will translate into getting more gigs for all of us as the summer gets under way.”
Montauk native and singer-songwriter Megan Leonardo—who is just back from appearing at South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, and will play six shows this weekend—said she is looking forward to forging musician-to-musician connections and the chance to see up-and-coming acts from a range of musical backgrounds. “There is a general sense of fun and love that is generated throughout the whole town over the course of the four days,” she said.
On Friday, the festival will host a free industry workshop for the performing musicians, which will include a panel with Lou Plaia, co-founder of ReverbNation; Randy Nichols, president of Force Media Management; Barry Heyman, founder of Heyman Law; and producer Kiyanu Kim.
For those who are not privy to the workshop, they can check out the third annual Montauk Youth Afternoon Showcase at the Gosman’s Dock Stage, which will feature student musicians from the Montauk School and the East Hampton Jazz Band, as well as Alyson Faith of FunkyTown Playground.
“The festival is all about embracing the local community through the power and love of music,” Mr. Giustino said, “which is at the heart of the vibe we try to create each year for everyone who attends the festival.“
The sixth annual Montauk Music Festival will kick off with an opening night party on Thursday, March 14, at 8 p.m. at Gurney’s Montauk. Tickets are $40, which include live music, hors d’oeuvres and a four-hour open bar.
The four-day festival will continue from Friday, May 15, through Sunday, May 17, with more than 200 free concerts at various locations throughout the village. The Friends of Erin will sell hamburgers, hot dogs and fresh corn on the Village Green during the daytime concerts. Proceeds will benefit local Little League teams and charities.
For a full schedule, visit themontaukmusicfestival.com.