Back to Its Roots

The Great South Bay Music Festival has expanded over the last seven years on one basic principle: Bringing people great music. But this year, the focus tightens even as the mission broadens: Give great music a stage and let people seek out new sounds. “There’s a very intelligent community of music fans on Long Island and I think for some part they’re being underserved,” said event founder Jim Faith. Faith can speak to nearly every act playing right now, weaving across rock and country and funk, casually dropping names of big acts he’s worked with but without the usual music-industry pretense.

Faith’s love of music has driven this festival every step of the way, but it has also prompted a refocusing on the festival’s core philosophy this year.

He’s taking the seventh edition of the three-day event back to its roots. And that means a wider mix of music, less emphasis on big names and a focus on the new soundtrack of America. It informs this year’s lineup through a diverse set of acts including lap steel master Jerry Douglas, The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ southern-fried banjo sound and even the legendary rock of The Doobie Brothers. (OK, so there will be some big names).

The grab bag of mixed musical acts will encompass so many tastes and regional flavors the festival defies pigeonholing beyond the shared embrace of a love of good, soulful rootsy American music. It’s not music for everyone, it’s music for music fans. But the magic of any festival is the way it makes a music fan out of even the casual listener.

Fans of pop and fringe alike will find their doors of perception opened, flung wide by the gateway drugs of familiar yet undeniably awesome tunes from rock acts like Billy Squier. You don’t need to be a fan of his music to bop your head to Squier’s “Lonely is the Night,” but once you’re in that groove, happy and enjoying the music, you’ll be open to receive.

And suddenly the blues-rock stylings of Electric Hot Tuna and all its descendants will sneak into your psyche. The high-energy bluegrass of The Infamous Stringdusters will bring out your inner Appalachian. And the infectious rhythm of Miles to Dayton will make you believe in local music again. That moment will come and the entirety of the American sound will get inside you. It doesn’t come easy, but the best things in life rarely do. And the church of great music will have another convert.

Or, as Faith puts it, “There’s going to be some history being made.”

The Great South Bay Music Festival will be held July 19-21 at Shorefront Park in Patchogue. For the full performance schedule, click here.