Tag Archive | "Bay Burger"

Fiveash Takes a Bite Out of Bay Burger Lobster Roll Eating Contest

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Sunday afternoon was crisp and clear in Sag Harbor — ideal weather for the second day of the annual HarborFest celebration. But for six brave souls it was also a chance to stretch their eating skills (and stomachs) at Bay Burger’s third annual lobster roll eating contest on Long Wharf.

And it was a repeat customer who took the top prize.

Emory “E Train” Fiveash, who took a second place prize in the contest last year, won the event this time around, consuming four and a half lobster rolls in five minutes, according to Bay Burger owner Joe Tremblay.

Fiveash, a caddy at The Bridge Golf Course, was cheered on by fellow golfers and according to Tremblay was the only contestant who took to strategizing to earn the $250 first place prize. Fiveash poured water over his lobster rolls to make them more easily consumed, a decision that aided in his victory, although likely impacted the flavor of Bay Burger’s lobster rolls, which were made this week with a lobster delivery from Stuart’s Seafood Market in Amagansett.

Fiveash also took home the coveted Bay Burger lobster roll eating contest trophy, handcrafted by Tremblay himself, who cooks (and paints gold) a five-pound lobster claw each year for the winner.

Bay Burger, located on the Sag Harbor Turnpike, will continue to sell its lobster rolls through Columbus Day weekend, said Tremblay.

…Just in case you want to practice for next year.

Rebuilding Marine Meadows at Bay Burger This Weekend

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For the second year in a row, residents in the Sag Harbor area will have the opportunity to participate first-hand in helping to rebuild the eelgrass population throughout the East End bays and estuaries. Eelgrass is a critical component of the local ecosystem that allows marine life to thrive.

On Saturday, September 15 at 3 p.m. the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) will bring its Marine Meadows Program to Joe and Liza Tremblay’s Bay Burger restaurant on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike.

The program is a community-based, collaborative component of CCE’s overall eelgrass restoration effort, which is funded in part by Suffolk County’s Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program. CCE offers these workshops throughout Long Island, giving residents an opportunity to learn about the importance of eelgrass to the marine ecosystem.

At this weekend’s workshop, participants will weave eelgrass shoots — harvested from healthy donor meadows in local waters — into burlap planting discs.  Once assembled, these discs will be planted by SCUBA certified CCE Marine Program staff in restoration sites in local estuaries.

These newly created “marine meadows” will serve as important marine habitat for many species of finfish and shellfish such as striped bass and bay scallops.

To date, CCE and various partners have facilitated 19 workshops in which nearly 500 volunteers have come together to assemble over 52,000 shoots of eelgrass into the planting discs.

“We are thrilled to be able to assist Cornell’s team in restoring our bay’s most critical and most threatened marine habitat,” said Joe Tremblay. “This is an issue that many of our friends and neighbors feel strongly about, and it’s wonderful that we can give them an opportunity to get their hands wet and participate in a restoration.”

CCE will also host a Save Our Seagrass (SOS) fundraising celebration at the South Fork Natural History Museum (SOFO) in Bridgehampton on November 10. That benefit will directly help fund the Marine Meadows Program.

For details call the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Habitat Restoration Outreach Specialist, Kimberly Barbour, at 852-8660, ext. 27 or email her at kp237@cornell.edu.

Music on Main Street, Sag Harbor Flourishes

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photo by Michael Heller

Sag Harbor has long been known for its quaint Main Street, the yachts that line Long Wharf and the artist and writers who call the village home. But over the last five years, Sag Harbor has also become known for Thursday nights and a growing music scene. It’s a scene that has developed with musicians and restaurateurs working hand-in-hand to offer a diverse menu of musical genres — from serious jazz to folk, rock and reggae and seemingly everything in between.

This is one of the reasons that musician Bryan Downey, owner of the Noyac-based Bulldog Studios, launched the Hamptons Singer-Songwriters series two-years ago in the lobby of Bay Street Theatre. Over 30 almost sold-out shows later, Downey has brought the series to Phao Thai Restaurant on Thursday nights where all summer between 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. the original work of artists — both well known and emerging — can be heard in the intimate setting of the restaurant.

“There are not a lot of venues out there for singer songwriters,” said Downey in an interview on Tuesday. “There are plenty of venues for people who want to cover The Beatles or Jimmy Buffett, but there wasn’t a place where a singer songwriter could play three songs and put their guts out there on the table.”

The Hamptons Singer-Songwriters series developed organically, said Downey. Inspired by the number of musicians crafting original work on the East End, he and John Monteleone opened the series after musician Jim Turner was unable to make a gig at an open mic session at Blue Sky, now Page@63 Main.

“I called all the singers I knew to see if we could have a concert and it just came together,” said Downey. “It was a February and we had more than 100 people in that room. I thought maybe we could bring it to Bay Street Theatre and serendipitously [Bay Street Theatre creative director] Murphy Davis stopped on me on the street and it just grew from there.”

What separates Hamptons Singer-Songwriters from most live music is that while Downey will occasionally allow musicians to play covers, primarily it is a venue for original music. This gives artists a space and audience to develop work and allows patrons the opportunity to experience something unique.

In addition to local performers like mainstays Gene Casey and The Lone Sharks, Dick Johansson and Inda Eaton, the series also features artists like American Idol hopeful Leah Laurenti (a Patchogue native) and young artists from Sag Harbor eager to perform outside the classroom or Downey’s studio, where he helps young musicians develop their talents.

Tonight, in honor of Bob Dylan’s birthday, part of the session will feature Michael Michaels, a tribute performer to Dylan. It’s a rare allowance Downey admitted, but fitting in celebration of one of the greatest singer songwriters of all time.

Downey said Sag Harbor is the perfect fit for a series like this because of the community’s commitment to the arts.

“It is the center of music out here,” he said. “I feel like this all started off with Jim Turner, one of the great local musicians who plays everywhere, but a lot in Sag Harbor. He is a professional who has kept the music playing and I think most of us are riding on the coattails of Jim Turner.”

Turner traditionally hosted the Thursday night open mic at Blue Sky, now Page @63 Main. That restaurant continues to host live music events, but Turner can now be found on Sunday nights at Muse in the Harbor from 6 to 9 p.m.

Muse in the Harbor owner and chef Matthew Guiffrida has also joined the Thursday night music club, presenting guitarist and singer Steve Fredericks from 7 to 10 p.m. Guiffrida has worked with Fredericks, who performs covers as well as original tunes, since he opened Muse originally in Water Mill.

“No matter where I was, whether at The Patio or The Inn at Quogue — Sag Harbor was always the place I went on my night off because you can walk around and there is love of music,” said Guiffrida. “There is no village like it. It’s down to earth, laid back and there is always something to do.”

Downey credits the Jazz Jam Session at Bay Burger, also on Thursday nights, as creating a venue to celebrate jazz and expanding the growing tradition of music in the village. He even timed singer songwriters session to begin at 8:30 — a half hour before the 7 to 9 p.m. jam session at Bay Burger ends so musicians could experience both events.

Conceived by drummer Claes Brondal along with Bay Burger owners Joe and Liza Tremblay and John Landes, the jazz jam opened in the spring of 2009 and has developed a cult-like following among jazz enthusiasts.

Brondal said it was not only the crowds who fill Bay Burger each Thursday in the summer season that constantly humble him, but also the musicians who show up to sit in on sessions.

Saxophonist Morris Goldberg, recognized as an early pioneer of jazz out of Cape Town, South Africa, and a collaborator of Harry Belafonte and Paul Simon, has often graced the jam session stage. Backed ably by Brondal on drums, Peter Weiss on upright bass and Bryan Campbell on guitar, the jam session house band is coined The Thursday Night Live Band. Trumpet player Randy Brecker has also joined the group as has saxophonist Alex Picton.

There are evenings, said Brondal, where the concentration of world-class musicians gathered in a little burger joint on the Sag Harbor Turnpike is almost startling. He hopes with the proximity to New York that not just the jazz jam, but local music in general continues to grow.

Brondal has recently started working with Wölffer Estate Vineyards to coordinate live music Thursday through Saturdays, bringing different genres like Afro-Cuban jazz and reggae to the stage.

“Even before we had the jazz jam they hosted live music and they continue to draw huge crowds to this day,” said Brondal. “My idea originally with the jazz jam was to bring different styles to the session, but it got too complicated, so I am glad we can start to introduce some new styles at Wölffer. We want diversity and accessibility for everyone when it comes to live music out here.”

Local Food Flourishes at Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market

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On the opening day for the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market last Saturday afternoon, patrons nibbled warm empanadas and homemade organic strawberry rhubarb ice cream, crusty loaves of bread from Blue Duck Bakery and greens from one of five organic farmers at the market.  Dave “the mushroom man” Falkowski spoke to one shopper about recipes, while Art Ludlow of Mecox Bay Dairy and Kevin Dunathan of Goodale Farms offered samples of their cheeses. Meanwhile, a crowd gathered around Sag Harbor farmers Dale Haubrich and Bette Lacina’s “Under the Willow Organics” produce stand, appropriately located in a shady spot of the Bay Street market, while one booth over, someone inspected fluke at Colin Mather’s Seafood Shop.

Organized in 2004 as a way to showcase local farmers during HarborFest weekend in September, the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market became a model for other East End communities and has grown by leaps and bounds since its first fall in front of the Dockside Bay & Grill.

Now located on village-owned grassland on Bay Street in front of the Breakwater Yacht Club, the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market runs from the end of May through the end of October. Managed by Ana Nieto and Ivo Tomasini, the market is cooperatively governed by its vendors to ensure that local food and its producers and protected and given priority.

From Montauk to Riverhead and out to Greenport, virtually every community has developed its own farmers’ market in the last five years.

“In many ways, on the East End, the Sag Harbor market was the first, which is why it is very special,” said Nieto. “There is a truly local feeling to this market and outside of the vendors, who are wonderful, it is also a beautiful location and something I think the community looks forward to.”

In addition to longtime vendors like Mecox Bay Dairy, Falkowski’s Open-Minded Organics, the Seafood Shop, Under the Willow Organics, Quail Hill Farm, Blue Duck Bakery and honey producer Bees’ Needs, among others, this year Nieto said the market has added a handful of new vendors meant to compliment what already exists at the market.

Farmer and author Marilee Foster chose to pursue other ventures this season and opted out of the market, said Nieto. One of the markets’ rules is to limit the number of vegetable farmers to five to ensure it is profitable. With Foster gone, North Haven’s own Sunset Beach Farm, a certified organic, community-based farm petitioned to become a part of the market and was accepted.

For farmers Karin Bellemare and Jon Wagner, while they also work other farmers’ markets like many vendors, being in Sag Harbor is home.

“We were finally a part of the community we are growing in,” said Bellemare. “I feel like the vendors are really committed to the community in this market. I think everyone has same values. There is a really nice vibe.”

Sunset Beach Farm has been operating for three years, farming 13-acres between their land in North Haven and land owned by the Peconic Land Trust next to Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett.

The farm offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for community members, who can pick up a weekly share of the farm’s organic harvest. At the farmers’ market, Bellemare said she is selling pea shoots, Asian greens, green garlic, bean spouts, lettuces, kale and Swiss chard, but the farm grows a full palate of vegetable offerings throughout the season.

Bellemare said the farm has also expanded into raising organic chickens for sale and for eggs, and soon enough Sunset Beach Farm organic chicken will be on the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market menu.

Perhaps the newest addition to the East End food shed, long awash in seafood and produce, are locally produced meats. While East Hampton’s Iacono Farm and North Sea Farms on Noyac Road have long sold local chicken, Sunset Beach Farm will offer the first certified organic chicken grown locally. Mecox Bay Dairy, which last year expanded to offer local beef, will also offer local pork this season, according to Ludlow.

Also new to the market is Goodale Farms, which sells goat cheese and milk products, Good Water Farms and its microgreens, and True Blue Coffee fair trade Jamaican coffee from Montauk.

The Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market will also feature two food producers who seek to make their goods out of local ingredients. A former chef from East Hampton, Luchi Masliah has opened Gula-Gula Empanadas at the market and hopes to use local products as often as she can.

From Uruguay, Masliah used to own the Amagansett Fish Company, but just recently has returned to the culinary arts. She makes her empanada dough from scratch and for her vegetable empanadas, sources greens from Haubrich and Lacina. She would also like to work with Ludlow to develop a pork empanada using Mecox Bay Dairy products and is keeping her eyes open for other local options.

“It’s more expensive for me, but they are quality ingredients and we manage to put our product out there at a price that people seem happy with,” said Masliah.

Joe and Liza Tremblay, owners of Bay Burger and Joe & Liza’s Ice Cream, spent the last year evolving their ice cream from a traditional formula with emulsifiers to a completely all-nature recipe using dairy from a small cooperative in the Hudson Valley.

At the farmers’ market, Joe Tremblay says they would like to craft locally inspired recipes — like Quail Hill Farm rhubarb and strawberry ice cream or Fat Ass Fudge, another vendor, and local mint ice cream.

“Just being in an agricultural area and having friends in this business, we want to support our farms and use their produce as it becomes available,” said Tremblay. “We have such a strong food community and we are happy to be a part of that.”

The Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday through October 27 on Bay Street at the intersection of Burke Street in Sag Harbor from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Image: Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano and Sag Harbor Village Trustee Bruce Stafford help Ana Nieto, Ivo Tomasini and market vendors open the season with a vine cutting. Photo by Bryan Boyhan)

Local Ice Cream Biz Sees Expansion

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By Claire Walla

When Joe and Liza Tremblay opened Bay Burger on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike in 2007, they knew they wouldn’t just be flipping burgers.

From the get-go, the Tremblay’s launched Joe and Liza’s Ice Cream alongside the burger business, dolling out scoops of sweet cream as well as burgers and fries. A winning combination, some sweet/salty connoisseurs might say. The only problem?

Space.

“We were trying to manufacture the ice cream in the restaurant,” Joe Tremblay explained.

As it currently stands, the ice cream is whipped up in the same kitchen space used for cooking the beef patties. Tremblay said they’ve been able to serve up enough ice cream to order, but the relatively small kitchen space has prevented the ice cream chain from expanding — wholesale had always been their goal.

“In the summer, the ice cream would get put on the back burner” — so to speak — “and we could only serve a certain count,” Tremblay continued. “The next thing we know, we have a line out the door, and we’re in the kitchen as they’re preparing the burgers!”

This clash of culinary tastes will finally be mitigated this year, as the Tremblay’s have finalized a lease on a new kitchen space right on the turnpike, where they will relocate their ice cream business and focus on expanding for the wholesale market.

“We’d like to really give the ice cream a real go on its own,” Tremblay continued.

Currently sold in the standard variety, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, the Tremblays also sell more adventurous flavors like pistachio and “cookie jar.” The Tremblays won’t go into details on intended plans for the future, other than they’d like to get their product into markets and restaurants out here on the East End.

While Joe and Liza’s Ice Cream will get a kitchen all its own, it won’t be moving very far. The space in question is a former garage on the Sag Harbor Industries site on the turnpike — right next to Bay Burger.

“The summer is such a scramble,” Tremblay continued. “It just wasn’t getting anywhere trying to [make ice cream] out of the restaurant.”

According to Tremblay, the new facility — which has been permitted by Southampton Town — should be up and running in another few weeks.

Considering the prospect of giving the ice cream biz room to grow, as well as its proximity to Bay Burger, Tremblay said of the move: “It’s going to be perfect.”


Pierson/Bay Street Meeting Sparks More Conversation, Draws No Conclusions

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By Claire Walla


Finally, the two boards came to the same table.

On Tuesday, January 31, school officials and Bay Street Theatre board members held a meeting on the Pierson Middle/High School campus to discuss the potential for a collaboration between the two. The idea of the Bay Street Theatre collaborating with the Sag Harbor School District to create a new theater venue has been floated for a few years. And with Bay Street’s impending move from its current location on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor, discussions have been spurred with greater urgency in the last few weeks.

The dialogue oscillated in scope for much of the two-hour meeting, wavering back and forth between small details (like whether it’s possible to obtain a liquor license on a school campus since Bay Street serves alcohol), and larger ideas, such as the school and theater working together to build an entirely new performing arts center in Sag Harbor.

But, while no board member on either side of the aisle completely put the kibosh on the potential for collaboration, there were aspects of this hypothetical partnership that raised red flags for both.

“I don’t want to throw any cold water on the issue, but I can’t possibly see how [an independent theater] can be in this school district, in this area,” school board member Walter Wilcoxen said.

Based on a memo the school district received from its attorney, Tom Volz, Wilcoxen pointed out some of the smaller issues, like limited parking and storage capacity.

But Tracy Mitchell, Bay Street Theatre’s executive director, expressed some concerns with the overall picture.

“One of the biggest issues for us, from a creative perspective, is we need to be able to have complete control over what we produce,” she said.

Though Mitchell and the theater’s creative director, Murphy Davis, assured the school that no expletives would be used on any signage related to the theater, some of the theater’s productions can be a bit, well, “racy.”

While Davis said there are elements to what Bay Street does now that could shift to conform to a different production model — for example, the theater could stop selling alcohol if it managed to secure other revenue sources — creative freedom is non-negotiable.

“We can do some pretty racy content,” he continued. “It’s imperative that we don’t feel hemmed in by that.”

Then there’s the time frame.

At best, school superintendent Dr. John Gratto said the process would take three years to complete. (Later, he explained that the time frame would more realistically take up to five years.) It would take six months for the school’s architect to draw-up a new design and then for the state education department to review the plans, another three months for the school to bid the project, then at least a year to construct the building.

“We’re talking two years after voter approval,” he continued. “And voters would have to approve such a project.”

The district’s current design for a 415-seat theater comes in at an estimated $12 million. Even if private funds were used for the project, Dr. Gratto said state aid would still kick-in for 10 percent of the cost, but that would trigger the need to put the project up to a vote.

Mitchell said the theater has a certain degree of flexibility for discussing future plans because it’s not scheduled to leave its current space until spring of 2013.

“The board would be able to back us renewing our current lease if we were working toward a pre-approved plan,” she said. “But, what we can’t do is say it’s going to take us another year to figure out whether we can get through these hurdles, and in the process lose all our other options.”

According to Mitchell, the theater is actively pursuing all possible options, including in Sag Harbor the Schiavoni property on Jermain Avenue, the National Grid lot on Long Island Avenue, the Sag Harbor Cinema, and in Southampton Village the soon-to-be vacant Parrish Art Museum space on Jobs Lane. At this point, Mitchell said the theater has put together several committees to further explore these options.

“It doesn’t sound like [the school] is going to be at the forefront,” Davis stated at the end of the meeting. Besides issues of parking, storage space and creative control, he said the time frame doesn’t seem viable.

“Just what I’m hearing tonight, it makes me uncomfortable that we’re going to have to wait,” he said.

And while nestling into the Pierson campus may seem like a dream sequence too riddled with legal complications to become a reality, school board members were energized by the idea of a potential collaboration off-campus.

Dr. Gratto directed interests to the piece of empty land directly across the street from Pierson, at the intersection of Division and Marsden streets, where the Trunzo family owns four parcels. According to community member John Landes, who’s already investigated the site, the cost would roughly total $4 million — just to purchase the land.

As for the overall idea of collaboration, Bay Street Board Member Robbie Stein said, “When you look at it, there are a lot of problems. But, on some level, starting this dialogue is bringing to the community the idea of: is there a place for arts in the community?”

The Bay Street Board will meet again next week to further discuss all its options.

East End Fair Foods Market Supports Farmers, Community

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On Saturday morning at Bay Burger just outside of Sag Harbor, families meandered around the inside and outside of the popular café, sampling foods and sharing stories with friends as children scampered from one table to the next.

The interesting thing about this moment is the fact that Bay Burger is closed for the season. However, owners Joe and Liza Tremblay have opened up their establishment each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to host the East End Fair Foods Market.

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The market, which is run by Ana Nieto and Ivo Tomasini — partners in life and in their health and wellness business, Turtle Shell Health — offers residents in the area a winter alternative to the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market.

Nieto and Tomasini also run that market, but the entities are separate, in location and in the kind of vendors they support.

The East End Fair Foods Market features a diverse group of vendors offering local vegetables, eggs, artisanal cheeses, baked goods, local preserves, wine and even wreaths and gifts in celebration of the holiday season.

On Saturday, farmer Marilee Foster, farmers from Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett and Sunset Beach Farm in North Haven, as well as East Hampton farmer Regina Whitney manned outside tables overflowing with bright orange carrots, winter greens, salad greens, cauliflower, beets and potatoes.

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Inside, three-year-old Finny Dianora-Brondal waited somewhat patiently with his parents for Bridgehampton farmer and Mecox Dairy founder Art Ludlow to dole out pieces of his sweet, yet sharp, cheddar cheese. Across the room, residents sampled goat cheese from Riverhead’s Goodale Farms, tried dots of sauces from Pete’s Endless Summer on toasted tortilla chips, sipped wine samples from Wölffer Estate Vineyards and sampled pound cakes from the Polka Dot Pound Cake company.

According to Nieto, while this is the market’s second year it is first organizers opened as soon as the summer farmers’ market closed, and unlike last year will remain open through the spring.

The winter market, said Nieto, not only supports local farmers and food producers who are looking for an opportunity to sell their goods in the off-season, but it also allows vendors like Greeny’s Natural Food Market from Shelter Island the opportunity to branch out into the Sag Harbor market. In the summer, Greeny’s is not at the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market, but instead sets up shop at the Southampton Farmers’ Market.

“It’s a great opportunity for everyone,” said Nieto. “Our main goal is just to keep supporting our local community, its businesses and the economy. Having a market in the winter, we hope, keeps more money here.”

For Whitney, one of several farmers at the market on Saturday, having a market to continue to share her goods, which includes handcrafted wreaths for Christmas, after all of the markets have closed is an important way for her to stretch her revenue stream through the holiday season before taking a much needed break in the winter.

“People seem to really be getting what this is all about,” added Whitney. “They are asking themselves, ‘What am I eating and where is it from’?”

For Mare Dianora, the market has also encouraged her to get out into her community and support local food producers. Her husband, Claes Brondal, said seeing the community come together in the off-season was refreshing, especially since it is in the winter that people need to feel a sense of community more than any other time of the year.

“My favorite part is the social aspect,” said Dianora. “It is so great to bump into people. I love seeing new vendors and what they offer.”

As for their son, the child eyeing Ludlow’s cheese display, it is pretty obvious why he loves coming to the market.

“He wants a cow and to live on Art’s farm so he can eat cheese all day,” said Dianora.

The East End Fair Foods Market is held every Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bay Burger on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike.

Claes Brondal

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web convo Claes Brondal

The musician and organizer of the November 10 All That Jazz benefit concert at Bay Street Theatre on Sag Harbor’s music scene, jamming on Thursdays and musicians who crash and burn.

How did the benefit concert come about?

It actually came about in April of this year, and we were initially shooting for a May benefit. In its original form it was to promote live music in Sag Harbor and the East End. Bay Street Theatre has been a big help to us in the past. By giving us a platform they are directly helping to promote our music.

They need all the help they can get. It makes a statement there is culture and life in Sag Harbor outside the season and helping to sustain Bay Street Theatre makes sense.


It seems there has become quite a vibrant music culture here.

Humans as species need arts and music in their lives. Unfortunately, live performances have become more absent, and people need that stimulation.

There’s also that social aspect, social interaction. To go and listen to live music, rather than a movie, encourages conversation. As a performer, I don’t mind people conversing.

There’s been a void for some time. You can always find live music at The Talkhouse, but finding consistent live music in Sag Harbor is a bit challenging.

I think the desire for live performances is also a reaction to so much time spent on social media online. There’s a place for that, but there’s also a need for real live social interaction.


The jam session at Bay Burger started nearly two years ago; how has it evolved?

Jam sessions started out as an experiment, as an after concert performance. We took that concept to Bay Burger.

We had the concept of a jam, with a house band as a core. It was not an open mic, which encourages anyone to come in and do their own act. The jam welcomes everyone, but the music is done as a group.

Content each night is determined by those who show up. You have to trust the process. If you keep it steady and consistent it will act as a magnet for local talent.

We originally took musicians of all ability, I was curious to see what pool of musicians existed out here. More and more people came down,

We kicked it up with Morris Goldberg when he sat in. He had worked with Paul Simon and a lot of others. He’s just a nice unassuming gentleman who sat in for a couple songs and everyone asked what was that? What happened?


Were you surprised by the talent that has shown up?

Very surprised. Still surprised by plenty of local professional musicians who come down or want to come down. We now have a pool of about 50 to 80 musicians.


You’re getting some big names, what is their attraction to the jam and playing at Bay Street?

I’m amazed by their generosity. They’re not just nice and doing me a favor; they’re doing it for the common good. Jazz musicians play their instrument to work their craft. It’s a need they have, whether they’re getting paid or not.

The jam session provides a venue for musicians to ply their craft. Why would someone like Randy Brecker come down after touring for nine months, had barely been home, but comes down the next day to play?


Is the jam session a laboratory of sorts, allowing musicians an opportunity to do what they might not be able to in concerts or other performances?

The nuts and bolts of the jam is a lab, an unrehearsed rehearsal open to the public. It’s not a performance in the traditional sense, and the musicians enter the room knowing this is open ended.

It’s a reflection of life itself: you’re given cues from others, you can take them or not. You may crash and burn. Audience members love to see a musician sweat and get themselves out of a pinch; but we have the trust in each other knowing we can get back.

Jam sessions afford you the opportunity to create, to make mistakes, to be part of that laboratory.


What can people expect at the concert?

The benefit concert is not a jam session. But it’s a celebration of 140 plus jam sessions we’ve done. It’ll feature past special guests, Ada Rovatti, Randy Brecker, Jim Campagnola, Morris Goldberg, Max Feldschuh, Rashid Lanie, Bill Smith, Jim Turner.

Partially the whole band will be playing at the same time, and then fragments of the band playing: a tentet, a quintet, a quartet.

We’ll do some familiar jazz pieces, to Latin, to Funk. My intention is to showcase the different styles of jazz.


How important is Bay Street Theatre to the community?

I think it’s very important. I think going forward it’ll be even more important. There’s a growing year-round community and it’ll be great if they can operate year-round.

There is a mutual relationship between Sag Harbor and the Bay Street Theater, and it’s known nationwide. It’s role as a cultural center for Sag Harbor is extremely worthwhile.

The venue itself is wonderful. It has such a creative vibe. The whole package, lobby, stage, it’s as good as any live music venue in the world.

Putting this all-star lineup in there Thursday night can be just as good as any jazz club in the world. I’m billing it as one of the most serious live jazz performances east of the East River.


Anything else?

We’re talking about styles of musicians and the vibrancy of the music scene, but all of this is kept alive by the wonderful audience that keeps showing up. There wouldn’t be live music without a faithful audience.

Marine Meadows Workshop Brings Eelgrass Restoration to Sag Harbor

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This Thursday and Friday, trained experts from the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) will forage shoots of healthy eelgrass from marine meadows throughout the region. They will then bring them to Sag Harbor and enlist the help of dozens of volunteers to aid in the Cooperative’s 18-year-old Eelgrass Restoration Program.

On Saturday — National Estuaries Day — the Cornell Cooperative Extension along with The Peconic Land Trust and the Sag Harbor Oyster Club hope to give East End residents a hands-on experience and education in eelgrass restoration.

From 3 to 5 p.m., the organizations will gather under tents at Bay Burger just outside Sag Harbor Village for the Marine Meadows Workshop. Volunteers will be asked to weave eelgrass shoots into burlap disks that will be planted in the Peconic Estuary the next day, establishing a new, healthy eelgrass meadow which ideally will become habitat for finfish and shellfish, and enhance the overall health of the bays.

According to the CCE’s Habitat Restoration Outreach Specialist Kim Barbour, the Marine Meadows Program is a community-based, collaborative initiative developed by the Cooperative as an offshoot of its Eelgrass Restoration Program.

Eelgrass is a critical aspect of the coastal ecosystem, noted Barbour. The seagrass provides habitat for marine life, helps filter nitrogen — preventing harmful algae blooms — and even protects the shoreline from erosion.

For decades, eelgrass has been in decline — globally and locally — due to pollution, disease and disturbance. Preserving what remains of the eelgrass meadows locally, as well as restoring the eelgrass stock is at the heart of the Cooperative’s Marine Program.

“The loss of eelgrass is one of the most significant issues facing the Peconic Estuary,” said Bay Burger owner and Sag Harbor Oyster Club founder Joe Tremblay. “Eelgrass is a critical habitat for a number of threatened species, most notably bay scallops and winter flounder. Scallop populations may never be able to be rebuilt if its natural eelgrass habitat disappears. The bottom of Sag Harbor Cove was historically almost entirely covered with eelgrass, and now it is virtually non-existent there. The Peconic Estuary has lost over 90 percent of its historic eel grass meadows.”

The Marine Meadows Program was conceived last spring to involve coastal communities on Eastern Long Island and Connecticut in the CCE’s efforts, providing a method to teach residents about water quality and the necessity of eelgrass restoration. It also enables the CCE to tap into local civic groups and community organizations as a pool of volunteers willing to donate their time towards eelgrass restoration projects in the Peconic Estuary, the Shinnecock Bay and in the Long Island Sound.

According to Barbour, this will be the fifth Marine Meadows Workshop event, and the program is gaining in popularity, community groups eager to get their hands dirty in the spirit of improving water quality across the region.

The workshops would not be possible without the initiative of Cornell Cooperative Extension restoration ecologist Chris Pickerell, who created the new, more efficient method of planting eel grass beds on bay bottoms. After weaving the healthy shoots into the burlap disks above water, they are planted by scuba certified CCE Marine Program staff the next day.

“The more we can get assembled, the more restoration,” said Barbour.

The process, she added, “is elementary, but as we do this we provide an education about the species while volunteers handle the live plants. This tremendously increases the planting units we have to work with and hopefully people will walk away with a new found knowledge and enthusiasm for protecting our estuaries.”

Barbour said CCE is hoping to make the program an almost year-round aspect of their overall Eelgrass Restoration Program, and with the amount of community support the workshop has received so far, she is hopeful the organization will meet its goals.

The Marine Meadows Program, sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, The Peconic Land Trust and the Sag Harbor Oyster Club is free, and will be held Saturday from 3 to 5p.m. For more information contact Kim Barbour at 852-8660 or at kp237@cornell.edu.

Jam Session Finds Winter Home at Bay Street

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The sounds of horns, drums, bass guitars and freestyle rap will not be stifled by the onset of winter thanks to a new partnership between Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theatre and Bay Burger restaurant, which will bring its popular Thursday night Jam Session to Bay Street while it shutters its doors through April.

The inaugural Bay Burger Jam Session at Bay Street will be held tonight, December 3, at 7 p.m. The sessions will take a recess through the holidays and reopen on January 7, and be held every Thursday night until Bay Burger opens its doors again in the spring.

The jam session is free and open to the musical and non-musical, young and old.

The partnership is one of several efforts on behalf of the theatre to become a venue for all members of the community, not just those who can afford a $50 theatre ticket come August. Over the course of the last year and a half, the theatre has opened its doors for a number of free, community events in its off-season when Bay Street’s stage is often dark, including televised presidential debates and the inauguration, as well as camps, community meetings and the ever-popular visit to Sag Harbor by Santa Claus, set for this Saturday, December 5.

“The idea is this is a place for everyone in the community,” said Bay Street Theatre Executive Director Tracy Mitchell. “I think it is really important, I believe to the very soul, that no matter if you are doing well or not, as an organization you have an ongoing obligation to serve the community you live in. To me, it is so important that we are able to offer things for free, as well as things that cost $5, $10 and $20. I think, if you are in the world of the arts, you have to keep that at the forefront because at the end of the day, if people cannot afford to see what you are putting up, you don’t have the ability to capture their imaginations, build an audience for the future.”

Building an audience was not difficult for the Bay Burger Jam Sessions, which were conceived by restaurant co-owner John Landes and Sag Harbor drummer Claes Brondal, who opened the first jam session this past April. Musicians of all instruments and styles are invited to jam with The Jam Session House Band.

Brondal said in addition to wanting to provide a much-needed venue for local musicians to hone their craft in front of a live audience, he also envisioned the sessions as an opportunity to create community and raise awareness about jazz and improvisational music. Providing a free venue for all ages, even Brondal’s toddler son, was also crucial to his goal of making the sessions as inclusive as possible.

“We sat down and talked to Bay Street about bringing the session there because it was working so well, we wanted to keep it going, keep it consistent and reliable,” said Brondal. Brondal hopes the new venue will open the sessions up to an even more diverse mix of musicians and audience members.

“I am extremely humble and grateful for this collaboration,” he said.

Brondal believes in the importance of music for children, one of the reasons he strove for an all-ages showcase.

“It is one of the reasons I became interested in the Jam Session,” he said. “A lot of kids have zero experience with live music certainly. I have had parents come down to Bay Burger with their kids and their eyeballs are literally falling out of their heads.”

As a nine-year-old, growing up in Denmark, he realized at an early age that his passion lay in music.

“I remember the first time I listened to really cool music, it gave me the goosebumps,” said Brondal. “I knew I wanted to do that with my life.”

After playing professionally in Denmark, he moved to the States in 1998 after experiencing what he called “a romantic love story” with wife Mare, an American. Living in New York and Oregon, the couple settled in Sag Harbor eight years ago and has a young son, Griffin. Brondal is a career musician, teaching drums privately and at local schools in drum workshops and music appreciation classes.

On Monday, Liza Tremblay, who owns Bay Burger along with Landes, who is her father, and her husband Joe, the restaurant’s executive chef, said the popularity of the jam sessions was beyond any of their expectations drawing a host of accomplished musicians and residents of all ages to the eatery.

“Thursday became our busiest night of the week,” she said. “It was a really fun atmosphere.”

Tremblay said she hopes a partnership with Bay Street continues after this winter.

“I would be interested in doing cross promotions in the future,” she said. “I think we can promote each other from opposite ends of Sag Harbor.”

“This was a no-brainer,” said Mitchell. “It fit well for us, and the artists – the talent – are terrific. This is not some karaoke night. These are real musicians with a true following.”