NOFO performers excited for another ‘perfect weekend’

Foghat will be among the acts performing later this month in the second NOFO music festival

If last year’s NOFO Rock and Folk Fest was all about the hullabaloo over permits, traffic control and crowds, this year it’s all about the music. And returning musicians and newcomers to the stage at Peconic Bay Winery are excited about playing the venue.

“It was just one of those perfect weekends,” Corky Laing said of last year’s event. This year, the drummer who played with Mountain will perform with his new band, The Memory Thieves. He describes the band as a “wonderful group of musicians who spark a lot of musical spirit.” And he promises the audience can expect both some of his earlier music and some new “creative” songs.

After some 40 years in the music business, what Mr. Laing wants from his career now is “just some good moments” — and that’s what he experienced at the NOFO Fest last summer.

“It was really just a great party,” he said. While the music may be the main attraction, the people who attend make the event all it is, he said.

Mr. Laing corralled rock drummer Roger Earl of Foghat into playing the gig this year. A native of England, Mr. Earl now makes his home in East Setauket and is looking forward to playing in his own backyard. He’s also hoping two of his daughters and some of his grandchildren will be able to attend.

“Hopefully, a good time will be had by all,” he said. Foghat fans can expect to hear some of the band’s classics as well as some newer tunes, including some from bands 2010 CD “Last Train Home.”

Foghat has undergone many transitions since it debuted in 1971, and Mr. Earl is the last remaining member of the original crew.

“I learned my craft by going out on stage two or three times a week,” he said of the early days. He recalls as a teen band members’ renting rooms above pubs and then putting on their own spontaneous shows. That type of opportunity isn’t around today for young bands, he said. But he thinks some of today’s bands are influenced by the music of the era when he got his start.

While Mr. Earl was making his mark originally in London pubs, John Sebastian was trying to reclaim rock ’n roll for America, where he said it all got started. The veteran of Woodstock will appear at NOFO for the first time, bringing some of the music his fans love from The Lovin’ Spoonful, some from what he calls the “mid-period” and jug band music that reflects his days with the Even Dozen Jug Band. He’ll be coming with some “big boopy guitars and a harmonica player or two,” he said.

“I’ll try to cover as much ground as I can in the time allotted,” Mr. Sebastian said. Obviously, that’s not as much time as he’d get playing a gig at a club, he added.

Mr. Sebastion recently attended a birthday party for Woodstock producer Michael Lang and said he dug into his closet for some old tie-dyed outfits left over from the 1960s that seemed appropriate for the event.

When Gordon Gano and his band, Violent Femmes, debuted in 1983, they were considered the post-punk generation of rock musicians. Now Mr. Gano will appear at NOFO with The Ryan Brothers — Brendan and Billy — and Brendan Ryan promises “a lot of diversity” in the program. It’s mostly a rock band, he said, but there will be some country, some folk and a little bit of funk.

“Mostly, it will be a lot of fun,” Mr. Ryan said.

The collaboration between Mr. Gano and The Ryan Brothers came about during various West Village gigs in New York City.

“I like the North Fork,” Mr. Ryan said, referring to the area as “sort of the anti-Hamptons.” And playing at a winery is a plus, he said.

When Commander Cody (aka George Frayne) takes the stage at NOFO, it won’t be with his former Lost Planet Airmen but with Professor Louie and some of the most talented and well-known musicians he has ever known.

“These are an all-star bunch of guys who all know my music,” Mr. Frayne said. As with Professor Louis, Commander Cody’s career dates back to Woodstock.

The Who Dat Loungers will bring the sounds of New Orleans Mardi Gras to the party, according to booking agent Joe Lauro.

There’s a nine-piece band with two front vocalists bringing “the funk of the Neville Brothers and the Meters” and the “zydeco of Buckwheat Zydeco.” The music will range from traditional Dixieland and jazz to the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima, Mr. Lauro said.

And while many of the performers have built national and international reputations, producer Josh Horton said he thought it important to showcase regional artists, noting many have received national attention.

That means Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks will be center stage. It’s a chance to reach people the band might not otherwise reach, Mr. Casey said. Despite their many East End concerts, there are still people who don’t know their music, he said.

“We’re going to feature a lot of our own songs,” he said. “It’s just a wonderful showcase and a celebration of the area.”

The Jon DiVello Band will be on hand with for what Mr. DiVello said is going to be a mix of both the band’s classics and “a lot of new stuff. It’s going to be really fun,” he said.

And because NOFO attracted so many families and so many children last year, Mr. Horton has created the NOFO FAM JAM with the music of Southold’s Brady Rymer. It’s music that appeals to both children and adults, Mr. Rymer said.

He’ll bring a three-piece band with drummer Chris Roselli “to get the energy pumping for the kids,” Mr. Rymer said. Vocalist and accordionist Claudia Mussen will also perform.

“The criteria for a great event this year is the same as NOFO 2010 — great performances, a family-friendly setting, delivering a substantive contribution to the East End Arts Council and a seamless event that makes the community proud,” Mr. Horton said.

The two-day festival runs next Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31.

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Peconic Bay Winery
Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31
11 a.m. to 7 p.m.