Cover and tribute bands tend to get a lot of attention on Long Island, but there is a burgeoning original music scene brewing. Local artists will be the focus of a new indoor/outdoor free music festival called Pine Barrens Jam at Blue Point Brewing Company in Patchogue on Sept. 18.
"We are the only festival that’s doing all Long Island artists playing all original material," says event founder/director Nick Balzano, who is also lead vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist from A Band in Ship. "Covers still dominate because of nostalgia, but we feel there’s a place for both scenes. This event is a way to highlight the original music that’s happening."
Here are the three different stages to check out at Pine Barrens Jam, which will be capped at 650 people on a first come, first served basis:
JELLY JAM STAGE
The indoor main stage in the tasting room will focus on funk, soul, rock and R&B, hence the name Jelly Jam Stage, where sets will range from 40 to 70 minutes per act. Drop The 4 will headline with its eight-piece band featuring a horn section.
"We try to make sure that our playing translates so people can feed off of that energy enhancing their enjoyment of the show. In turn, that gives us an extra boost," says bassist Alex Gallina, 29, of Huntington. "It’s almost like a symbiotic relationship between the crowd and the band."
LANTERN SOUND RECORDING RIG STAGE
Attendees looking for a more acoustic experience can enjoy the sights and sounds coming off the Lantern Sound Recording Rig Stage in the outdoor beer garden. Here sets will be kept to 20 minutes a piece featuring acts playing in between set changeovers from the Jelly Jam Stage.
Pete Mancini, 34, of Bellerose will take the stage playing his Americana style music, which he calls a mix of "rock, country, folk and blues."
Mancini is set to perform old favorites like "To Be Alive," "Back in Bakersfield" and "Casino Lights" as well as give the crowd a sneak peak at material from his upcoming album, "Killing the Old Ways" due in the spring on Paradiddle Records.
"A community setting is something I really miss," says Mancini. "We all realize how important that is after being off for a year. Live music is important, we need it."
Another acoustic artist will be Christine Sweeney, 33, of Copiague, who labels her brand of music "soul folk."
"It’s like a blues-influenced pop blend with notes of country," says Sweeney.
Sweeney will drop her new album in early 2022 and is excited to debut some of it live.
"When you play original music you really put yourself out there," she says. "But, if you are in a place full of people who want to hear what you have to say, you are not afraid to say it."
PEANUT BUTTER POETRY & ARTS STAGE
Off on the side of the property in a more secluded space will be the Peanut Butter Poetry & Arts Stage. Rorie Kelly, 37, of Sound Beach is known for her music but during quarantine she expanded her repertoire to include poetry during her weekly livestream. Now she’s bringing it to the stage.
"I live loop some music, set up a cool vibe and read poetry over it," says Kelly, who will also do a set on the acoustic stage. "I try to seek out the people who felt like they didn’t belong or didn’t fit and invite them in. My goal is to let the listeners feel like my show is a safe place where we can be real together."
There will be a series of arts and crafts vendors to shop at plus food sold along with a variety of Blue Point beers on tap. Everyone will be wrist-banded as 21 and over (with valid ID) or under 21.
In terms of COVID safety, Balzano says, "whatever comes down from the state is what we are going to do. Right now, we are recommending that everyone wears a mask when they are not in one place."
PINE BARRENS JAM
WHEN | WHERE Noon-8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 18; Blue Point Brewing Company, 225 W. Main St., Patchogue, rain or shine