Tag Archive | "Jim Turner"

Why Here? Musicians on the Influence of the East End: Jim Turner

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East End musician Jim Turner plays at a local benefit for Haiti. Photo by Michael Heller.

East End musician Jim Turner plays at a local benefit for Haiti. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Michael Heller

Born in New York City and raised in Northport, Jim Turner is the product of musical family: His mother, brother, and sister were all musically oriented, and his father was a trumpet player in college, so it was only natural that at age 14 he picked up the guitar. His brother showed him a riff called “John Henry,” and then a friend in school showed him how to play “What I Say” by Ray Charles. “And from there it kind of just grew,” he says. “I wasn’t going to be a musician. It was just a side thing.” He moved back to New York City at age 21 to study acting, and before long found himself being cast in major roles in Broadway musicals, including Joseph Papp’s Public Theater production of “Blood” and opposite Nell Carter in a production called “Dude” with the cast members from “Hair,” while all the while continuing to play gigs in restaurants and coffeehouses. In 1978, he moved out to the East End.


MH:  So what was it that made you decide to come to live in Sag Harbor?


JT:  I was really in the guts of the New York professional world. I look back at that now, and I realize that I was around the big time. I wasn’t the big time, but I was around it, so I saw what the high level of competition and the high talent, and how disciplined and how professional you had to be in that world—you had to go out for a lot of auditions on Broadway stages, and it was terrifying. I got cast and I was around these people. There I was in this Broadway show with top talent like Nell Carter and a lot of other famous people, and it was like the big time, it was shocking, I was really honored. But I continued playing music, and you know, I was in that New York world and here I had been in that Manhattan jungle for so long, that I finally got to the point where I—and it’s really kind of mundane, what I’m going to say—I just got a longing to live in the country. I wanted to switch gears…. Suddenly I just did not want to do the urban thing. I look back and I had spent almost 12 years, including college, in New York, and I just got this longing to be in nature—almost like a Thoreau—and I was looking to go a hundred miles away, because I didn’t want to cut the cord. I didn’t want to leave New York, because New York is a universe. But I met a woman, and she lived out here and I visited out here, around 1978. She was going away the following summer, so I rented her house out in Sag Harbor for the summer, and I was smitten by this area. I had this huge, romantic thing: I wanted to be with clean water…. my life was a concrete jungle, and the city was so challenging to live in, so bang I rented her house and later on I moved out here.

When I came out here what happened was I was able to get the music going, playing music out here, right away. Playing music out here was suddenly so much easier than in New York. In New York you finish playing a gig and you’re on the subway, or on the street. Here, I came home to my cottage I rented and I’m out here with the crickets and the night and I’m thinking, “This is relaxing! This is healthy!” Since I’ve been out here I took off and formed my own band in 1988…. I backed up a lot of people for years and played solo, and it took off pretty much in the late ’80s. I did concerts at Guild Hall, I got a role for Time-Warner doing an ad for Optimum, and since then I’ve just been out here doing hundreds of gigs.


MH:  So what keeps you out here, seeing that this is not the music capital of the world?


JT:  One of the answers to that is that it’s kind of easy living here, in a country-life kind of way. Now, it’s not easy financially because it’s gotten very expensive, but I’ve kind of lucked into something that I wouldn’t have been able to do in New York. I get a lot of work out here, especially May through September, so rather than be on the road as a musician—and it may not be as romantic—I can actually have a life and not be out in motels travelling the country. What I found in New York as a struggling artist was that it was very difficult to make money and to be in the city; out here it’s still hard, but it’s easier: I come home to this home, and I have peace and quiet. I do get hired, and I’ve done well, and gotten paid pretty well. But on the other hand, I agree that in the off-season it’s kind of dead, and that’s the downside to it.

I once heard something in a music seminar, and that was, “Don’t get addicted to the local music scene, because that can shortcut your career.” I might have done that. I might have been someone who went to L.A. or Nashville, or could have had a big career… and yet, at the same time, I’m not sure I was looking to be a star; I think I just wanted to play music and have a relaxed, healthy life—it’s as simple as that.

CMEE Hosts 2nd Annual Music Fair

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A child enjoys the instruments at the CMEE Music Fair last year. Photo courtesy of CMEE.

By Genevieve Kotz

The Children’s Museum of the East End will host its second annual Music Fair on Saturday, June 14, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The fair, which is free and open to families with children of all ages, will let kids learn about music with hands-on, interactive programs and well-known East End performers.

At the fair, attendees will be able to join an improvisational mural painting alongside artist Bob Crimi and musician Jim Turner and join a sing-along with Inda Eaton.

Mr. Turner has recorded albums, played on TV and radio, and appeared in musicals both on and off Broadway as well as being a regular sight at on the East End music scene.

Ms. Eaton is a singer-songwriter and educator who co-founded Ideas to Inspire, which is a music-infused supplemental education program that explores inspiration, song writing and self-expression.

Kids will also be able to jam Ina Ferrara of Music Together by the Dunes, enjoy a Catherine Shay production, create their own tin drum and rain stick, get their face painted and explore instruments throughout the museum grounds.

For more information on CMEE, visit its website at cmee.org.

Music in Sag Harbor May Require Permits

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web Jim Turner Band

By Kathryn G. Menu

From open mic nights at Blue Sky with Jim Turner to Friday night jazz at Phao, Sag Harbor’s Main Street has been awash in live music and entertainment this winter, delighting patrons with soulful sounds, belly dancing and even drag queens.

And as of now, this is technically against the law.

Next month, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees will present legislation that will legalize live music in restaurants and bars, although live entertainment like belly dancing and even disc jockeys appear to be off the table in the first draft.

On Tuesday, May 11 the village board will host a public hearing on a new law that would allow restaurants, bars and taverns the ability to host live music, with a village-issued permit.

“Clearly, in every restaurant and bar in town there is some kind of music being played and based on the current code it’s basically illegal,” said Sag Harbor Deputy Mayor Tiffany Scarlato, who wrote the draft code with trustee Robby Stein. “We wanted to support the business community and give people the opportunity to legalize what is happening and at the same time give the village control over the potential transformation of a restaurant into a nightclub.”

According to the draft law, a music permit would be free and establishments would need only to fill out an application with the village clerk to obtain one. As long as there are no problems in the next year, the permit will be automatically renewed.

The law allows music to be played in restaurants no later than one hour after dinner service, and no later than 1 a.m. Bars and taverns would be permitted to have live music no later than one hour before they close, and all establishments must adhere to the village’s noise ordinances. Cabarets, discos or nightclubs will not be granted a permit, nor would any restaurant or bar with characteristics of a cabaret, disco or nightclub.

The law was drafted similar to legislation enacted in East Hampton, which Scarlato penned herself.

“I think almost every municipality has the same type of definitions in their codes and they all restrict music in that they don’t want them to turn into nightclubs,” she said.

However, added Scarlato, the idea was conceived in an effort to ultimately help the business community by legalizing a practice that has been an economic draw for individual restaurants, and the village as a whole.

After first introducing the law, at a village budget meeting earlier this month, Scarlato noted it was purely a draft and “something to throw out there and get some feedback.”

“I think this is a great idea,” said Beppe Desiderio, co-owner of Blue Sky. “It is business driven, but more importantly, this supports the village and the people who work here by bringing people to Sag Harbor.”

Desiderio and his partner, Gerald Wawryk, both took issue with the notion that bars and taverns could host music later than restaurants, noting in Sag Harbor, technically the only legal bar is Murphs Backstreet Tavern on Division Street. All others are restaurants, and even the Cigar Bar is technically zoned for retail.

Wawryk added he would like to see the time increased to 2 a.m. for restaurants.

“We have to bring some of the nightlife back,” he said. “From a business point of view, if the mom and pops are going to survive, we have to give a little bit more. I am not saying we want rock and roll or techno – that’s not suited to Sag Harbor.”

Desiderio said music at Blue Sky has been crucial to the restaurant’s success, in particular the open mic sessions they began on Thursday evenings in the off-season with local musician Jim Turner.

“We had people who would otherwise have not come into the building come see us – we were able to bring them in,” said Desiderio. “They loved the music and they saw we were able to create a great environment here. I had mothers, high school kids that play in bands – everyone was here.”

While the open mic night will only be held every three weeks in season – the next show on May 20 – Desiderio said in the fall it will resume weekly, due to its popularity. Currently, Blue Sky has planned on hosting a disc jockey on Friday and Saturday nights, something Scarlato said was not allowed under the current draft law.

“I don’t understand that,” said Wawryk, noting his New York State Liquor Authority License allows him the use of a disc jockey on premises. He added a lot of charitable functions at Blue Sky have used a cover charge, also not allowed in the draft law, to raise funds.

Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano said this week he was reviewing the law, and meeting with building inspector and fire marshal Tim Platt to go over some ideas. While supportive of the measure, Chief Fabiano said his main concern was ensuring the law was crystal clear, easy to read, and specific about what will, and what will not, be allowed in Sag Harbor.

“Some laws that have been passed, or codes proposed, you need a lawyer to figure out what it means and it can be taken three different ways by three different people,” he said. “It’s a good idea – let’s just make it clear.”