In an era where bigger, flashier gatherings quickly fall in and out of fashion, the Great South Bay Music Festival has quietly become Long Island’s longest-running music festival by focusing on the artists and the community.
“Richie Havens, Odetta — I brought them here because I just thought they were important artists that people should see before they’re gone,” Great South Bay co-founder and producer Jim Faith said, as the four-day festival gets ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary at Patchogue’s Shorefront Park starting Thursday, July 14. “People like B.B. King — all those people and their histories, they just stick in my head. We were lucky to have them.”
To mark the milestone, Faith has brought together the festival’s biggest and broadest lineup yet — starting with alternative rockers Third Eye Blind and Manchester Orchestra on Thursday, July 14, the festival’s first-ever country night with Joe Nichols and Jamey Johnson on Friday, July 15, jam band Umphrey’s McGee anchoring Saturday, July 16, and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Graham Nash closing out the festival on Sunday, July 17.
“I’m madly in love with the work of Crosby, Stills and Nash,” Faith said. “They are amazing musicians and songwriters, and politically, they’ve always been brave for standing up for what they believe in. There’s no question the type of music was right for the anniversary. Graham, everything he stands for is so positive.”
Patchogue Village Mayor Paul V. Pontieri Jr. says the same can be said for Faith and his festival, which are keys to its ongoing success. “A lot of festivals go down the toilet because they get too big and don’t take care of their neighbors,” he says. “Then, there’s a community uprising.”
It’s not the case in Patchogue, Pontieri says, adding that the festival pays to clean the area surrounding Shorefront Park by 5 a.m. after each concert.
“That music festival showcases the village at its best,” he said. “The things that he does down there let people know that we are a community that appreciates the arts.”
Railroad Earth singer Todd Sheaffer, who performed at the first Great South Bay festival, says the roots rockers are happy to return Sunday, July 17, to celebrate the 10th anniversary. “What I really liked about it was that it was a family-oriented thing,” said Sheaffer, adding that the New Jersey band may unveil some new music in its 90-minute set. “It’s not just young kids coming out and partying. It’s a community-type thing.”
Faith says he is proud of how the Great South Bay festival is a community-driven effort, both in musical spirit and in location.
“I don’t think we’d have made it this far if the community didn’t support us,” Faith said. “That is why we are what we are.”