Tag Archive | "Hamptons"

“Clyborne Park” Opens March 12 At Hampton Theatre Company

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postCard-clybourne-park-patronMail

“Clybourne Park”—the wickedly funny and provocative play by Bruce Norris about how the different faces and shades of racism can make a straightforward real estate transaction anything but—will be the third production of the Hampton Theatre Company’s 30th anniversary season. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play opens on March 12 at the Quogue Community Hall and will run through March 29.

The two acts of “Clybourne Park” are in fact two separate plays set 50 years apart and spinning off Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama, “A Raisin in the Sun.” With a cast of seven taking on different roles in the play’s two halves, act one is set in 1959, as nervous community leaders anxiously try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act two is set in the same house in the present day, as the now predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to stand fast against the onslaught of gentrification.

Calling the play, which won the Olivier and Evening Standard awards for its London production, a “sharp-witted, sharp-toothed comedy of American uneasiness,” Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times that “the very structure of ‘Clybourne Park’ posits the idea of a nation (and even a world) trapped in a societal purgatory of ineptitude and anxiety.”

The cast of “Clybourne Park” features four Hampton Theatre Company veterans and three newcomers. Matt Conlon was most recently on the Quogue stage in the fall in the role of Ellwood P. Dowd in “Harvey,” following his turn in the title role in “The Foreigner” last March. Joe Pallister, who also appeared in “The Foreigner,” was last on the Quogue stage in last spring’s production of “God of Carnage.”  Ben Schnickel is familiar to Hampton Theatre Company audiences from “The Foreigner,” as well as “The Drawer Boy,” “Becky’s New Car,” and “Rabbit Hole.” Returning to the Quogue stage for the first time since her appearance in “Desperate Affection,” Rebecca Edana first appeared with the HTC in the company’s revival of “Bedroom Farce.” Rounding out the cast and trailing extensive lists of New York and regional credits are Juanita Frederick, Shonn McCloud, and Anette Michelle Sanders. HTC Executive Director Sarah Hunnewell will direct.

“Clybourne Park” runs at the Quogue Community Hall from March 12 through 29, with shows on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Information is available at hamptontheatre.org. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 1 (866) 811-4111.

 

Parrish Announces Chuck Close Photographs Exhibit

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Chuck Close (American, born 1940). Self-Portrait/Composite/Nine Parts, 1979. 9 Polaroids, 83 x 69 inches. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Gift of Barbara and Eugene Schwartz.

Chuck Close (American, born 1940). Self-Portrait/Composite/Nine Parts, 1979. 9 Polaroids, 83 x 69 inches. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Gift of Barbara and Eugene Schwartz.

The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill announced last week that it has organized Chuck Close Photographs, the first comprehensive survey of the photographic work of the renowned American artist. The exhibit will be on view May 10 through July 26 and will feature some 90 images from 1964 to the present, from early black and white manquettes to composite Polaroids to intimately scaled daguerreotypes and the most recent Polaroid nudes. The exhibition explores how Mr. Close, one of the most important figures in contemporary art, has stretched the boundaries of photographic means, methods, and approaches.

“The photographic origin of each Close painting is well known; however, Close’s exploration of the medium itself extends far beyond the use of photographs as a programmatic tool,” said Parrish Art Museum Director and exhibition co-organizer Terrie Sultan. “Whether he uses a photographic image as source material or as an end in and of itself, everything he creates begins with a photograph. Chuck Close Photographs provides an in-depth look at photography as the foundation of Close’s creative process.”

The exhibition builds on the Parrish Art Museum’s long history of working with Close, as Sultan also organized Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration, which has travelled to nearly 20 venues worldwide since 2003. Chuck Close Photographs, co-organized by Sultan and Colin Westerbeck, independent curator and photography scholar, traces Close’s use of the camera throughout his more than 45-year career and features a variety of photographic media.

Madoo Talks Lecture Series Opens with Lindsey Taylor

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Lindsey Taylor.

Lindsey Taylor.

The Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack will host its Madoo Talks Winter Lecture series in February and March, opening with Lindsey Taylor, one of the authors of “The Gardener’s Garden,” a book that explores gardens from around the world and throughout the ages meant to serve as an inspiration to the modern-day gardener. Ms. Taylor, who will speak on Sunday, February 22, will use examples such as

Hollister House, Dawn Ridge, Les Quatre Vents, Prospect Cottage and other personal idiosyncratic gardens featured in “The Gardener’s Garden,” to discuss the need for a garden to have a soul, passion and individual vision to be truly successful. A book signing will follow the discussion.

Madoo Talks will continue on Sunday, March 8 with Sagaponack farmer, artist and writer, Marilee Foster. Ms. Foster, whose family settled in Sagaponack during the mid-1700s, will take a realistic yet humorous look at development on the East End along with the difficulties of farming in the 21st century and the success at her wildly popular Sagg Main farmstand.

Stephen Orr, author of “The New American Herbal,” will join Madoo Talks on March 29, examining the long tradition of herbals while adding new layers of information based on a multicultural look at the herbs we use in our homes and gardens.

Maddo Talks: Lindsey Taylor will be held on Sunday, February 22 at noon at the Madoo Conservancy summer house studio, 618 Sagg Main Road in Sagaponack. Tickets are $25 for members; $30 for non-members and a reception, sponsored by The Topping Rose House, will follow. To reserve your seat, email info@madoo.org or call (631) 537-8200. 

Propping Up Sag Harbor’s Historic Buildings

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20 Union Street, which served as Chester A. Arthur's summer White House, is one of several historic houses currently under renovation in Sag Harbor.

20 Union Street, which served as Chester A. Arthur’s summer White House, is one of several historic houses currently under renovation in Sag Harbor.

By Stephen J. Kotz; Photography by Michael Heller

Only the facade remains of the original "Bottle House" on Madison and Henry streets.

Only the facade remains of the original “Bottle House” on Madison and Henry streets.

Even a blind man can see that the Sag Harbor Village Historic District is undergoing major changes.

Above and beyond the well-publicized conversion of turning the old Bulova building into luxury condominiums or the transformation of the former First Methodist Church on Madison Street into a private home, Sag Harbor is undergoing a full-scale renovation boom.

On Main Street alone, at least three major renovations are underway. A walk down Howard Street is more a tour of one extended job site than it is a stroll down a village side street. New construction is cropping up on Glover Street, Palmer Terrace, Bay Street, and just about everywhere one looks.

In some cases, historic houses are being completely rebuilt. The Sleight House on Division Street, in the shadow of the Bulova building, underwent a major renovation this past year that eventually turned into a complete rebuilding job, leading to a stop-work order and a rebuke from the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board before work was allowed to proceed.

At 245 Main Street, original windows, trim and other historic materials are being preserved in that renovation, according to the project's architect.

At 245 Main Street, original windows, trim and other historic materials are being preserved in that renovation, according to the project’s architect.

The former Abelman family home on Madison Street at the foot of Henry Street, which is more commonly known as the “Bottle House” for the collection of colored glass bottles that once adorned the porch windows, was also the subject of a major renovation. Last summer, builders moved the simple, wood-framed Greek Revival house from one side of the lot to the other. As they built a major addition behind it, they eventually removed most of the original house except for part of the façade.

The wholesale changes have set off a quiet sense of alarm among some onlookers. One of them is Chris Leonard, a former longtime chairman of the Sag Harbor’s ARB, who argues the village is failing to do enough to protect historic homes.

“An authentic representation of the past is valuable to society,” he said of the need to preserve Sag Harbor’s historic buildings. “You don’t just tear down the pyramids or the Sphinx because they are old and you want something new…. This is where we came from. We need to try to preserve the best of it and not destroy it and build some sort of replica.”

That same sentiment is shared by Randolph Croxton, an architect with a home in the village, who ironically first visited Sag Harbor over the winter of 1979-80 and helped lead the initial effort to convert the Bulova building into apartments.

“I guess I call it ‘skinning the cat,’” he said of the latest trend in restoration. “You strip off all the details and the hardware and you come back with a re-creation that is all new. But so much of the authenticity is lost when you do that.”

He worries too about changes to Sag Harbor’s broader sense of place, which he describes as having an “open, authentic, multi-generational quality that is not hiding behind hedges.” When a building like the “Bottle House,” which once stood at the foot of Henry Street, is shifted to one side of the property, it throws off the balance and destroys “the axial relationships, and composition” of a streetscape that was laid out to create “an open commons,” he said. It’s the kind of change that might not mean much to a casual observer, he added, but one that, if multiplied, can have an incrementally deleterious effect.

The village’s historic district is expansive, including most of the waterfront from Glover Street east. It extends southward around much of the rest of the village in a broad arc, roughly following Hempstead Street and portions of Grand and Harrison Streets. It includes all of Oakland Cemetery and Mashashimuet Park, while excluding two more recently developed residential streets, Joel’s Lane and Archibald Way. The district runs north along Main Street, jutting to the west to include portions of John Street, while excluding Bluff Point. It extends back down Glover Street, but does not include the Redwood neighborhood.

When the village established the ARB, it included language in the zoning code charging it with not only maintaining the character of the village historic district but of following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Houses.

Among those guidelines are provisions calling for making minimal changes to “historic materials and features” of buildings in the historic district that are being renovated or expanded.

Too often that is not the case, according to Mr. Leonard, and much of the fault lies at the foot of the ARB, which is not, he says, following the letter of the law when it reviews applications for renovations in the historic district. Too often, he said, sanitized replicas are being built in the place of flawed, but historically valuable, gems.

“I don’t think this is rocket science,” said Mr. Leonard of the regulations for historic preservation.  “It’s not a mystery. If the board has questions about how they should proceed, they should first all look to the law, read, understand, and if they still have questions, they should ask the village attorney.”

Cee Scott Brown, the current chairman of the ARB, was out of town and did not reply to emailed requests for an interview. Other members of the board also declined to speak on the record about the process they follow.

But at recent meetings, board members have often expressed the desire to see historic homes preserved in as authentic a fashion as possible. For example, when an architect appeared before the board last fall to gauge the board’s feelings about possibly adding a small addition to the Captain David Hand House on Church Street, his proposal was shot down in summary fashion. A revamped plan presented by another architect that called for a top-to-bottom preservation effort was approved with flying colors in December.

But the question remains how to make sure finished projects accurately reflect the intention of the ARB.

According to Mr. Leonard, all too often they have not. Referring to a photograph of the work at the Sleight House, he said, “all the historic material is the Dumpster and they have done a reproduction. How do you get from what it says in the code to this?”

Building inspector Tom Preiato, who joined the village in November, said he could not comment on past practices but said he intended to make sure property owners comply strictly with the plans they have submitted.

“There appears to be a fair amount of decision making by builders and homeowners to remove pre-existing, nonconforming structures that they deem unsound, without the required approvals,” he said. “I am attempting to keep this trend in check.”

To that end, Mr. Preiato recently slapped a stop-work order on a major renovation project at 295 Main Street, where most of an existing house was taken apart, moved from its foundation and set back away from the street, with a significant amount of new material added. In Mr. Preiato’s eyes, that constituted a demolition. And once a house has been demolished, the reduced setbacks and other zoning allowances that went with the property are lost too, meaning a rebuilding project would likely require variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

About a block north, the shingles and much of the trim that adorned a house dating to the late 1800s at 245 Main Street has been stripped away. Today, the house, sporting a large addition to the rear, is sheathed in green wrap to keep air and moisture out.

Is another replica of a historic house on the way? Absolutely not, said Jason Poremba, the Southampton architect overseeing the project.

Mr. Poremba, who oversaw a top-to-bottom renovation of the Hannibal French house several years ago, said his client, whom he would only identify by the corporate name, Coming Up Roses, LLC,  “was making a conscientious effort to preserve as much of the original house as possible.”

Although the shingles will be replaced, windows, trim and other hardware that have been removed have been shipped upstate for restoration and repair and will be placed back on the house, wherever possible, he said.

“The killer is the New York State code,” said Mr. Poremba of the problems facing people who are trying to do renovate a historic house. “When you reach a certain level of construction you have to start to bring the house up to meet local codes.”

One requirement is that a house must meet energy efficiency standards by passing a test in which the building is sealed and pressurized to determine points of leakage. “We won’t know until the end of the job if the house fails,” he said. Because of that, the contractor is required to painstakingly reassemble the house, which adds to the cost of the project.

“You can do it,” he said of preserving a historic house. “But a lot comes into play. If there are spec builders involved, to systematically take it apart and rebuild it really wouldn’t make sense.”

Architect Monika Zasada, who has been overseeing a major renovation at 20 Union Street—a house that is well known among village residents as the former summer White House of President Chester A. Arthur and later the Pino Funeral Home—takes a similar approach to Mr. Poremba.

In an emailed statement, she said, “dealing with an edifice that is centuries old poses a tremendous challenge. One is faced with incessant questions. Is repairing, restoring or replacing the most sensible policy? Which approach ensures that the renovation is a lasting one?

“When does investing in frequently exorbitantly priced historic elements stop making economic sense? How to mitigate the disparity between arbitrary pieces of trim installed in previously attempted repairs? What to do when the entire framing is completely compromised and most of the foundation consists of two rows of rocks? How can the house’s visual quality be preserved when it needs to be brought up to current building codes?”

Ms. Zasada credited the home’s owner, Anke Beck-Friedrich, and the contractor, Greg D’Angelo, for making it possible to restore as much of the house as possible.

“As a result of all the repairs, restoration, authentic replication and new construction, the history will live on,” she wrote. “The building will be preserved for future generations.”

 

Such efforts should be encouraged, according to Mr. Croxton. “Every place in America is trying to do a town center, with a make-believe town clock, like Disneyland,” he said. “And here, we have the real thing.”

 

Although Mr. Croxton says he believes the village has reached a tipping point and it is “now time for concerted effort and community response,” he insists that all is not lost for Sag Harbor. “The things that are wrong are highly visible and disturbing,” he said, “but a lot is intact and still of good quality.”

 

“There are always people who want to do what they want to do,” added Mr. Leonard. “You just have to be willing to say ‘no.’”

Writing about Nature with Poet Farmer Scott Chaskey

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Scott Chaskey

Scott Chaskey

By Emily J. Weitz

Scott Chaskey speaks for the land, and he does it with his hands as well as his words. Out in the fields at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett almost every day, Mr. Chaskey knows the soil, he knows the migratory patterns of birds, he knows the seasons. Through the two books he’s published in recent years, “This Common Ground” and “Seedtime,” Mr. Chaskey has spread his understanding across the country and has impacted the larger farm to table movement. But his roots are not in farming, and they’re not in nonfiction writing. Scott Chaskey was educated a poet.

Mr. Chaskey met his wife Megan, a Kundalini yoga teacher and poet herself, while earning his MFA degree in England. Ever since, they’ve both woven poetry into whatever they do. Now, as the Director of Quail Hill, his voice has become a significant contributor to the national conversation about farms and sustainability. And it only makes sense that in his poetry as well as his prose, nature is a great source of inspiration.

“We can connect with nature through the written word,” said Mr. Chaskey.

He hesitates to term himself a nature writer, though he has great respect for many others who are. John Fowles, who wrote “The Tree,” had a particular impact on him, and he quoted him in “Seedtime.” Other major influences include John Haye.

“He’s a spectacular writer about the natural world, and wrote in the mid to late 20th century,” said Mr. Chaskey.

His own teachers, first at SUNY Binghamton and then in graduate school, taught him a great deal about capturing the natural world with words.

At this point in our conversation, Mr. Chaskey gasped, then laughed.

“A bird just flew into my window!” he said. “I have to go!”

When he called back, he informed me that a sparrow had flown into the window of the shop at Quail Hill, where he was at work.

“Here we are talking about a connection with nature and a sparrow flies into the window,” he laughed. “I suppose nature is something you can’t get away from.”

It reminded him of an early connection he made between writing and nature. He was living in a fishing village in Cornwall, England while he pursued his MFA. His mentor was a poet named Edgar Wallace, and he also felt the connection between the beautiful cliff meadows and the urge to write.

“Edgar was part of the landscape,” recalls Mr. Chaskey. “I remember one day coming down the steep hill, and Edgar was coming the other way. And he walked over to a bush, and hugged the bush. It was his way of greeting me. He was so connected to the natural world that he hugged the bush.”

Mr. Chaskey feels that same kind of deep connection now, though he didn’t always. Growing up in the suburbs didn’t nurture that kind of connection. But he found it in Cornwall, and it’s only grown since.

“It took a while for that connection to surface,” he said, “but since I’ve lived on the cliffs of Cornwall and on this beautiful peninsula, it has become crisp.”

As well as being a farmer and poet, Mr. Chaskey is a teacher. He’s taught poetry to children, college students, and adults. Over the next two weeks, he will lead a workshop on writing about nature at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor.

“I want it to be open. I’ll present things that I think are wonderful examples of people writing about nature, and people will bring their own thoughts and favorite passages… It always bubbles up out of the experience of who’s in the room.”

There’s a line by the poet George Oppen: “There are things we live among, and to see them is to know ourselves.” Mr. Chaskey uses this as a guide to his practice of writing about nature.

“We have to be in it,” he said. “I advise walking as much as you can, looking and seeing, and combine that with reading other passages from writers you admire.”

Writing about Nature with Scott Chaskey will take place at Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street in Sag Harbor, on Thursday, February 19 and Thursday, February 26 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $75 for both sessions and registration is required. Call Canio’s Books at (631) 725-4926 or visit caniosbooks.com for more information.

 

 

 

Scars on 45 Returns to WHBPAC

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So45 - Press Photo 2

As a part of the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) Breakout Artist Series, and in partnership with WEHM 96.9, British indie rock quartet, Scars on 45, will return to the center this Friday at 8 p.m.

Scars on 45 brings an alt-rock, melodic pop sound, combining the big guitar rock of Oasis with the melodic, country-influenced sound of Fleetwood Mac. Formed in Bradford, Yorkshire around 2007, Scars on 45 began as a duo after former football-mates, singer/songwriter Danny Bemrose and bassist Stuart Nichols, started writing songs together. Eventually the band expanded to include keyboardist David Nowakowski, vocalist Aimee Driver, and drummer Chris Durling. While the group developed a local following, it wasn’t until their song “Beauty’s Running Wild” was used in a 2009 episode of the CBS television drama “CSI: New York” that Scars on 45 caught the attention of the wider music industry. In 2011, buoyed by that success and a record deal with the Chop Shop label, Scars on 45 released two EPs, including “Give Me Something” and “Heart on Fire,” the latter’s title cut appeared on the “Grey’s Anatomy, Vol. 4 soundtrack”. A year later, the band released their self-titled debut album featuring the single “Heart on Fire.” In 2014, Scars on 45 returned with their sophomore full-length album, “Safety in Numbers,” featuring the single, “Crazy for You.”

Scars on 45 will perform at the WHBPAC, 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach, on Friday, February 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available at whbpac.org.

 

Ani DiFranco Returns to the Suffolk Theater

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DSC_8790

By Emily J. Weitz

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Ani DiFranco’s gift for articulating the present moment, whether it’s the moment after a painful breakup or a tenuous conversation in the thick of marriage, is unfaltering. Now, Ms. DiFranco has two children, juggling motherhood and super-stardom as she’s juggled everything else in her life – transparently.

Her newest album, “Allergic to Water,” was recorded in the final months of her second pregnancy and the early months of her son’s life. That truth comes through, not always directly in the lyrics of her songs, but in the quality of her voice, the sound of her guitar, and the overall feeling of the album.

“Having kids definitely dictates the process,” said Ms. DiFranco. “I have to work in fits and spurts. I have to steal time in the wee hours. This record, I did a lot of overdubbing and singing while my family slept. You can hear an intimate quality to the vocals. There’s a quietness that surrounds the songs.”

You can even hear the difference from track to track. When she told me which songs she recorded late in her pregnancy (“Happy All The Time” and “Harder Than It Needs to Be”), they happened to be my two favorite songs on the album. There’s a lightness and buoyancy to the sound of these songs, even though the content is complex.

One would think that when a brilliant singer/songwriter is at home with her family, the children should just gather round the guitar and sing along. One would think the living room would always be alight with song. One would think music and motherhood existed in a happy yin yang shape. One would think.

“I would make music around my children more if they allowed it,” said Ms. DiFranco, “but both of them recognized pretty early that when mommy picks up a guitar, she gets a far-away look, and that’s not okay. Both exhibited jealousy from the beginning, and they shut me down from making music with them. There’s an excruciating period when these new beings come into my life where I have to let my work and my passion go.”

But perhaps it’s better that the worlds remain somewhat separate. Because Ms. DiFranco has to step away to create music, the role music plays in her life remains what it’s always been: an escape.

“It used to be escape from dark trauma,” said Ms. DiFranco, “and now it’s escape from babies and momming… It’s humbling and useful and I come back from grateful for my job.”

When she had her first child, who’s now almost eight, Ms. DiFranco took her on the road. For the first 3 ½ years, her daughter was there to meet her backstage. But her son was not having the road lifestyle, and she realized it was less about the world she created for her kids than it was about the kids themselves.

“Turns out it was not my genius momming skills, but the personality of my kid,” she said. “So after four tours, I fired the baby.”

It’s not easy for either of them to have the separation. When she packs up to go on tour for several weeks, it’s excruciating to say goodbye to her son.

“But now,” said Ms. DiFranco, “when I go on the road, I revel in guitar and writing and reading and talking to friends. Your time becomes so precious.”

On her last tour, she was so inspired and amped up from the time and space to create that she found herself writing a new song every other day. These songs are even newer than her most recent album, but she’ll be playing them at her upcoming show.

“It was great to realize that I am not dead as a songwriter,” she said. “I was engaged in the creative act of making a human. But this last stint I’ve written a lot, and I’m excited about the new songs.”

Things that have been inspiring her in her recent life come through on her new album, “Allergic to Water,” as well as in her newest songs.

“There are a lot of meditations on humility and patience,” said Ms. DiFranco, “things that children bring to us. The title track, “Allergic to Water,” is talking about the things that are most meaningful and life sustaining can also be the most painful. The biggest struggles have the biggest rewards and that’s the way it works and you better accept it. I wrote it the year I birthed a baby.”

Ani DiFranco will return to the Suffolk Theatre on Saturday, January 24. The show starts at 8 p.m. Go to www.suffolktheater.com for tickets.

 

Sag Harbor’s Wharf Shop Gears Up for the Holiday Season

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Wharf Shop proprietors Nada Barry and Gwen Waddington with some of their unique Christmas items. Michael Heller photo

Wharf Shop proprietors Nada Barry and Gwen Waddington with some of their unique Christmas items. Michael Heller photo

By Emily Weitz

Nada Barry and Gwen Waddington, the mother and daughter team behind The Wharf Shop in Sag Harbor, have a holiday tradition of their own: manning their toy store until the last gift of Christmas is purchased on Christmas Eve. But these ladies start gearing up for the holiday months in advance. While people are still strolling through the store in flip-flops and cover-ups, the staff of The Wharf Shop is at the trade show in New York City, picking out their selection of gift ideas for the holiday season. And while it’s always a bit of a gamble what’s going to be the next “it” gift, The Wharf Shop rests on a foundation of the tried-and-true toys that have brightened children’s eyes for generations.

They were confident that the Frozen storm that swept the world would still be going strong into the holidays, so The Wharf Shop is stocked with specialty items inspired by the Disney movie. But they also thought the new Paddington movie, which was slotted for a November release, would be a big influence on holiday shoppers. When the release was postponed until January, The Wharf Shop found their shelves a little more crowded with Paddington items than they might have otherwise.

But whatever the trends, Ms. Barry and Ms. Waddington, as well as the store’s longtime staff members, want to ensure they provide shoppers with exactly what they want while at the same time, inspiring parents and shoppers by offering toys that have an educational or creative value.

“We curate our inventory,” said Ms. Waddington. “We try to have inventory that is positively educational, that has value for play.”

Some of the most reliable, inspiring toys are some of the simplest. Christmas crackers, which are foil wrapped cylinders with a toy inside, were a tradition when Ms. Barry was growing up in England.

“I don’t think there’s been a Christmas in my life that I didn’t have Christmas crackers,” she said, “and I bring that tradition with me and pass it down.”

They put together a gift basket that includes only toys that have been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. It includes old favorites like the Slinky, the Yo-Yo, and the Frisbee, among other things. Along with the items is a document, written up by Ms. Waddington, that tells the history of each toy.

“The Frisbee,” she explained, “was originally a pie tin from the Frisbee baking company, and college students started throwing them around. That’s how they became a toy, in 1908.”

Tying all of these toys together is a stick, which was inducted into the Hall of Fame as perhaps the most basic and beloved toy of all time.

“The other day,” said Ms. Waddington, “after we put our baskets together, we had kids come in with sticks they had picked up off the street.”

But they are not solely about nostalgia. For all the arguments against plastic and technology in toys, there are also great educational strides that have been taken in the toy industry.

“There are lots of new, innovative toys that have come out,” said Ms. Barry. “A perfect example is this game.”

She brings out “Robot Turtles”, a game that teaches young people how to code. Computer coding is now being taught in school, and this game makes it accessible to even very young children.

The ladies of the Wharf Shop love the holiday season, and not only because it brings a boost to business at the darkest time of year.

“Main Street is so gorgeous and inviting with all the lights and decorations,” said Ms. Waddington with a smile. “And customers are genuinely in a good mood.”

Each year, they pay attention to who the last customer is on Christmas Eve.

“Mom and I close the shop each Christmas Eve around 6 p.m.,” said Ms. Waddington, “and every year we notice who comes in.”

Christmas Eve day feels like a party: they have a buffet for the staff in the back, and even staff members who aren’t working will often stop in to celebrate.

“It’s such a celebration,” said Ms. Barry, “and the atmosphere in the shop is so special.”

What they love about running a small shop in a small village is that they become part of people’s Christmas traditions, and they get to know their customers.

“Every year one customer needs to buy a Christmas mouse,” said Ms. Waddington, “and another always needs a German Christmas ornament. Another woman always picks out ornaments for all her nieces and nephews, and we inscribe them with the names and date. We never want to be an Internet business, because we enjoy interacting with our customers.”

The Wharf Shop is located at 69 Main Street in Sag Harbor and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (631) 725-0420 or visit wharfshop.com.

 

 

Snail of Approval Awarded to North Fork Table & Inn

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The North Fork Table & Inn.

The North Fork Table & Inn.

Slow Food East End announced last week it has awarded its first Snail of Approval to the North Fork Table & Inn in Southold. Since it was founded a decade ago, the North Fork Table & Inn has offered diners a progressive American menu of seasonally inspired, locally sourced biodynamic and organic produce, fresh seafood and artisanal cheeses led by chefs Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming.

The Snail of Approval was created by Slow Food East End to support business establishments that contribute to the quality, sustainability, and authenticity of food and beverages on the East End. The nomination process is now open to qualifying restaurants. Other food purveyors and wineries will be considered in the coming year. In acknowledgement of a restaurant’s adherence to the Slow Food principals of “good, fair and clean” food, Slow Food East End will publicize the business in its web page, newsletter and social media. Approved restaurants will also receive window decals bearing Slow Food’s snail logo to promote their business to the public. Any Slow Food East End member may nominate an establishment. For detailed Information on how to apply, send an email to snailofapproval@slowfoodeastend.org.

The East End Chapter of Slow Food is one of about 200 chapters in Slow Food USA, a non-profit, member-supported organization that advocates for healthy food produced with minimal damage to the environment using honest and fair production practices. Slow Food USA is part of Slow Food International with 100,000 members in over 102 countries. For more information, visit slowfoodeastend.org

Billy Martin on Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood: Not Just a Jam Band

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Billy Martin, John Medeski, John Scofield and Chris Wood.

Billy Martin, John Medeski, John Scofield and Chris Wood.

By Gianna Volpe

Truly groovy tunes are coming to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center this Saturday as Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood take the stage at 8 p.m. to rock the socks off their audience with songs from their new album, “Juice,” released just two months ago.

Billy Martin – drummer of the genre-morphing quartet – took time out of his Thanksgiving weekend to talk with The Sag Harbor Express before the performance:

It seems that every album off “Juice” is ripe for salsa and other styles of dancing. Do people often take to the floor during your shows?

You can always expect that, even if it’s a sitting show, some people will get up and try to dance.

You’re often credited as being the most multi-genre minded one in the band. Where did you learn to appreciate such varying musical styles?

My father was a concert violinist, so he played a lot of classical music and orchestras and New York City ballet and opera. My mom was a Rockette and a dance teacher who taught tap ballet and jazz, so she had me tap dancing when I was very young, and then my older brothers were listening to The Rolling Stones, James Brown, the Allman Brothers, Stevie Wonder and all that music. I was growing up in the 60s and 70s and that music was all seeping in at the time, which was great…When we moved to Closter, New Jersey from New York City, the drums kind of appeared and I just set them up in the basement and started playing them along with our records. In ’74, my dad found me a drum teacher named Allen Herman, who turned out to be sort of a Broadway rock drummer, and he got me started.

How would you define your drumming style?

It’s like speaking a lot of different languages. There’s categories people use – jazz and rock and Brazilian and African and pop and stuff like that – but what I call myself is an experimental musician.

Is that what attracts you to the ‘Jam Band’ style?

‘Jam band’ to me, is just another word for a movement and so I like to use the word ‘experimental.’ Some jam bands aspire to get to that level of improvising and writing and composing and being able to jump around in different genres – and that’s something that we’ve always done in a very serious way.

When we play, we’re very focused and when it comes to playing the “Juice” music, its more tune-based and might even fall more into the ‘Jam band’ thing because I think a lot of jam bands actually have some sort of form; some sort of simple tune progression. I’m not sure because I don’t know what a jam band is, to be honest.

You wrote my favorite track on the album, “Louis the Shoplifter.” How did you do that as a drummer?

I just had this melody in my head – a very simple melody – and I figured I would just sort of sing it to the guys. Modeski had me play a little bit of the piano rhythm and we all just sussed it. A lot of it has to do with how the band grooves together and we have a certain chemistry with Scofield.

What was it like when you first began to play with John Scofield in 1997?

It was great. At first, we weren’t really sure what it was that Scofield wanted to do with us. He had been hearing a lot of our music and became kind of a fan of us and of course we were a fan of his – growing up in the 80s he played with Miles Davis and had really cool jazz rock records – so it was a really cool opportunity for us. He asked us to collaborate and write tunes with him and we said, “You know what – you write the tunes and we’ll interpret them and play them our way” and that was “A Go Go.”

You collaborated again in 2006, but how did you four ultimately become a band?

You know, you start playing live and start to feel a connection and you just know when it feels like a band because everybody gels together. It’s so effortless that you can just anticipate how everything’s going to go – it’s really quite natural. Our relationship and respect for each other – personally and on stage – just works.

Are you working on a new album at the moment?

In February Modeski, Martin and Wood is going to record something live in Boulder, Colorado with a chamber group called Alarm Will Sound. It’s a collaborative, very special sort of project.

Speaking of special projects – as someone who is not only a drummer but an artist who has created album art for the band and the music video for “Juicy Lucy” on the new album – are you working on any special projects right now?

I actually just finished a book called “Wandering” that’s on pre-order exclusively through my website billymartin.net. “Wandering” is a compilation of essays – 22 chapters – on the creative process. It has 30 improvised drawings and it comes with a record. I wanted to share my experiences with others as a drummer with the experiences I’ve had.