We have written about some of the annual Music Events and Gala & Charity Events in the Hamptons (May & June, July, & August) which are focused on raising money for Not-For-Profits and Charities. But back in the early 1990s, the Hamptons embraced a new fundraising format.
- The New York Times (1999): Raising Money, and Spirits, With Rock
Back at the Ranch
Rusty Leaver, of Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk, figured there must be a way to raise money for charity outside the common Hamptons mold of small gatherings at private venues inviting deep-pocketed donors to support a pet cause. Something that would involve many more people at smaller donations, and be a lot more fun!
The first ‘Back at the Ranch’ concert was held on August 30, 1990, at Randy’s ranch. About 10,000 Rock & Roll fans showed up for an outdoor rock concert featuring his friend and Montauk neighbor Paul Simon. When it was over, the first ”Back at the Ranch” concert had raised $270,000 to help prevent the erosion-imperiled Montauk Lighthouse from toppling into the sea.
Over the next decade, Paul Simon hosted most of the ‘Back at the Rach’ benefits, helping attract such stars as Billy Joel – another Montauk neighbor, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers, and Lyle Lovett. Aretha Franklin was slated for a concert in 1996 but pulled out a month before the show. Not daunted, Rusty pulled together a lineup including James Brown and Ray Charles at the very last minute.
The ‘Back at the Ranch’ concerts generally raised between $350,000 – $400,000 for local causes including the Lighthouse, and the Nature Conservancy which has been responsible for saving large tracts of green land in East Hampton.
Gary and I were fortunate enough to attend several of the concerts – with Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Jimmy Buffett, and Willie Nelson – in the VIP area with seating on straw bales and bottled water available – under the hot summer sun.
All for the Sea
In 1992, after witnessing the success of the first two Concerts at the Ranch, Southampton College decided to throw their hat in the ring, launching the ‘All for the Sea’ fundraiser for their Marine Science Scholarship Fund. The first concert, with Crosby Stills and Nash, netted $60,000, and they knew they had a winning formula. With help from high places, then Southampton Town Supervisor Fred Thiele, Robert F. X. Sillerman, a broadcasting magnate and the college’s chancellor, and his wife Laura, who acted as co-chairmen of the first concert, Southampton College went on to feature artists as the Allman Brothers, Tony Bennett, Tina Turner, the Doobie Brothers, Foreigner, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, Rod Stewart, The Allman Brothers, and Bob Dylan.
Again, we counted ourselves fortunate to be in the general admission audience and enjoy the music of Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan.
Jimmy Buffett Harvest Moon Benefit Concert
November 20th, 1999, not long after we had purchased the Mill House Inn, we splurged on $200 tickets to see Jimmy Buffett playing at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor in a benefit for the local Montessori school that his children attended. Where else could you see an artist of his stature play for 2 hours solo, with just a mic and an acoustic guitar in a tiny 300 seat theater with amazing acoustics and not a bad seat in the house? And Buffett was relaxed and conservational with us, his audience.
- Ape Culture (1999): Buffett Benefit
Billy Joel Master Class at Southampton High School
Billy Joel, over the years, has given a lot of Master Classes, mostly in colleges, where he talks about and performs his music, taking questions from students in the audience.
In 2001, Billy Joel released his first classical album Fantasies & Delusions – Music for Solo Piano performed by Richard Joo. We were lucky enough to catch his Master Class at Southampton High School that year, where he introduced Joo and the two played the classical pieces together in between banter with the students. As the performance wound to an end, he addressed us adults, who paid a lot of money to sit in uncomfortable folding chairs in the front rows, and asked us what we wanted to hear – Priceless!
- YouTube (2009): Hyung-ki Joo & Billy Joel
- YouTube (2001): Masterclass Concert 2001 (in 12 Parts)
- YouTube (1989): Billy Joel Masterclass Southampton, NY
The Stephen Talkhouse
Since 1987, when purchased by Peter Honerkamp, The Stephen Talkhouse has been a mainstay in music on the East End of Long Island. Peter remembers: ‘There used to be a tiny place in Nassau County called My Father’s Place, and people like Bowie and the Stones used to travel from New York City to play there… My goal was to make the Talkhouse a similar venue out east.’ And he succeeded.
- Whalebone Magazine: Meet Peter Honerkamp, Owner and Resident Storyteller of the Stephen Talkhouse
As well as creating a venue for music, both local and international, The Stephen Talkhouse has been very involved in charities, both local and national. They open their doors and ask for donations when local residents are sick or have accidents:
- Just tonight they are hosting a Benefit for Phil Vega, long-time Talkhouse friend and employee – and the local musicians are always there for them:
- Monday August 19, 2019 6:00 pm $25
- Music By …Terrance Simien and The Zydeco Experience, Inda Eaton, Nancy Atlas and More!!
The Stephen Talkhouse is constantly doing benefits for local causes such as Share the Harvest Farm, and national causes like Victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Little Kids Rock Charity, (Friday August 30th 2019), and the 9/11 Memorial Project (2018).
The Wounded Warrior Project
Peter Honerkamp is a Co-Founder of the Wounded Warrior Project:
- Talkhouse benefit concerts for The Wounded Warrior Project have attracted bands like Coldplay (2018) and Mumford and Sons (2019):
- Sunday August 25, 2019, 7:00 pm (invitation only) – the concert will be broadcast live on SiriusXM’ Spectrum and Pandora
He also helped found the annual Soldier Ride bike program:
- In 2004 Chris Carney, a bartender at The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, NY decided to ride his bike for charity. With the support of Talkhouse owner Peter Honerkamp, Talkhouse promoter Nick Kraus and Chris’ friend Tek Vakaloloma, Chris completed a 4200 mile coast-to-coast bicycle ride raising over $1 million in support of Wounded Warrior Project, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help injured service members aid and assist one another.
- Watch the Soldier Ride Feature Film on Amazon Prime Video
- Soldier Ride New York 2019
Thank you Peter, Chris, Randy, and all the rest. We have enjoyed the ride.