By Andrew Rudansky
There is a new music scene burgeoning in the hamlet of Amagansett, thanks in part to the increasing popularity of On The Air at Crossroads, a monthly concert series held at the Crossroads Music Store.
The Stephen Talkhouse has long been a musical destination for Long Island bands; but like no one instance indicates a trend, no one musical venue creates a scene.
It wasn’t until Crossroads Music Store, a self-proclaimed “mom and pop” establishment, moved its location to 160 Main Street, Amagansett in 2010, that the area truly became a must stop for local musicians looking for exposure.
Owner of the Crossroads Music Store Michael Clark said the On The Air concert series was his attempt to help support local musicians looking for exposure.
The showcase started, like many of the ideas in the store, at Crossroads’ public Sunday jams. It was at one of these sessions that Clark first met recording engineer and WPPB 88.3 FM radio host Cynthia Daniels.
The two began collaborating on the showcase in December 2010, recording the live monthly concerts at the store with the help of sound engineer Matt Orlando, and putting them on Daniels’ weekly radio show “MonkMusic Radio” on WPPB. Each On The Air concert is played on the “MonkMusic Radio” show the following month, coinciding on the same week as the next concert.
“These concerts are great because they give local musicians an audience and exposure, and the audience is treated to great music,” said Daniels, who hosts the hour-and-a-half showcase.
Each month 40 to 50 people pack the music store, many times leaving standing room only, to listen to the eclectic group of musicians slated for that evening’s showcase.
“So much happens here,” said Daniels of the music store’s new role as a center for East End musicians. “This scene is happening all because of Crossroads Music.”
Daniels will be hosting the 11th edition of the On the Air at Crossroads this Saturday, January 28 at 8 p.m.
This month her guests include Michael Hennessy, Soundsource with Scott Hopson, Pitt Reeves and the band Clean, which is being highlighted in this month’s Young Artist Spotlight segment of the concert.
Each On The Air at Crossroads concert is free admission, however Clark and Daniels ask that people who come bring a food item or a small financial contribution to donate to the Springs Food Pantry.
“Something we always try to do with the series is tie in parts of the community,” said Daniels, “We think it is important to do what’s right for the community.”
Clark said that listening to music at the store is a unique experience and not like a normal venue, thanks to the relaxed atmosphere he has tried to create. Adding to the small-town feel of each concert, Clark’s Wife, Christine Clark, makes free coffee and desserts for the entire audience.
“This is like playing in someone’s living room,” said Daniels about the vibe and the clarity with which the music can be heard at each show.
“This has really become the place to come and see music,” said Clark. “And the people are here to really listen to the music.”
Conversely, Clark does not consider the series as on par with a coffee house open mic night, due to the professionalism of each act.
“Almost all of the performers in the concerts have been professional working musicians at one stage or another of their career,” he said.
Fans of any style of music will find something to listen to at the On The Air series, which promotes a mix of various musical genres. Over the past year concerts have featured rock groups, folk artists, classical acts, singer-songwriters, blues bands, jazz musicians, and bluegrass jams, among others.
On The Air at Crossroads has gained an enormous following since it first debuted, resulting in a switching of venues last month for a one-off at the John Drew Theater in Guild Hall. The show, this time a fundraiser for WPBB 88.3 FM, featured 15 bands and many of the WPBB radio hosts as MCs for the night. Clark and Daniels say they were invited back again for 2012, with a specific date that is still to be determined.
“Long Island is rife, filled, with local bands,” said Daniels, who added that these free shows are allowing the music of the East End to finally be heard.
For more information about upcoming shows and audio recordings of previous shows visit Crossroadsmusicstore.com, or call Crossroads Music at (631) 907-4838. For more information about the On the Air at Crossroads radio show on “MonkMusic Radio” visit Cynthiadaniels.net.