Live on the Vine kicks off on Long Island

Paul Scher on sax and Gene Casey on

Paul Scher on sax and Gene Casey on guitar for The Lone Sharks at the Winterfest Live on the Vine kickoff party at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

The East End's annual Winterfest offers a little more of everything this year for music lovers with a taste for Long Island wine. In its seventh year, the festival adds a new concert venue -- the restored Suffolk Theater in Riverhead -- to the mix of wineries, hotels and restaurants hosting events. There are more concerts and greater musical diversity with the addition of rock, bluegrass and other genres to a formerly all-jazz schedule.

Beginning with Friday night's Johnny Winter concert at the Suffolk Theater, the six-weekend festival is an opportunity for concertgoers to settle into a cozy niche in a tasting room or cabaret setting, order a round of Long Island Cabernet or merlot, and forget for a few hours, at least, how really cold it is outside.

"In the winter doldrums, it's a great thing to do," says Maggie Bossung, 58, a registered nurse from East Quogue. She's looking forward to breaking winter's icy grip with some live music in coming weeks.

"About 7,000 people attended the festival last year, and we're expecting closer to 10,000 this year," says Patricia Snyder of East End Arts, which is coordinating the festival with the Long Island Wine Council and the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.

WHAT'S NEW

This year, the festival formerly known as "Jazz on the Vine" is being called "Live on the Vine" to reflect the wider spectrum of musical styles, which includes blues, concert piano, soul and flamenco. The name change "was a perfect opportunity for more musicians to get into the mix as well as to reach a larger audience," says festival coordinator Kathryn Simos. With 100 concerts compared to about 75 last year, it's also given more L.I. musicians a chance to show their stuff.

Flamenco guitarist Vito Genna of Wantagh, who's making his festival debut this weekend, says opening up the schedule to other musical genres made it possible for him to participate this year. "I'm a local musician," Genna says, "and I look forward to presenting my compositions to the Long Island community."

THIS WEEKEND

Here's a sampling of this weekend's schedule, which includes a number of other Long Island performers:

MATT MARSHAK 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Bedell Cellars, Cutchogue

The contemporary jazz guitarist from Riverhead is a festival favorite with a style that bridges jazz, blues, rock, pop and boogie.

CHAMPIAN FULTON Clovis Point, Jamesport, 2:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday

The jazz pianist and vocalist from Manhattan and her quartet also are festival favorites.

MAMBO LOCO 7-11 p.m. Saturday, Hotel Indigo Ballroom, Riverhead

Traditional Latin and Latin Jazz music, featuring classic Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican sounds, played by a band that includes musicians from Riverhead.

TREVOR DAVISON QUARTET 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Raphael, Peconic

Pianist and vocalist Trevor Davison of Riverhead leads a quartet specializing in intimate jazz.

FUERZA FLAMENCA 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sunday, Bedell Cellars, Cutchogue

The classic music of Spain interpreted by two flamenco dancers, a percussionist and guitarist Vito Genna of Wantagh.

LIVE ON THE VINE, THE LI WINTERFEST

WHEN | WHERE Fridays-Sundays through March 16 at East End wineries, hotels and other venues.

INFO 631-849-3517, liwinterfest.com

ADMISSION $20 per event (includes a glass of wine); $30 day pass, $50 weekend pass or $200 festival passes available (none includes wine).

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