Music and More Music

 

This Wednesday night, June 29, began the series of summer Concerts in the Park, a free series of concerts coordinated by the Southampton Cultural Center. I’ve written about the concerts before; it’s a summer night out that Chris and I try never to miss, and that we encourage our guests to enjoy as well. Bring a beach chair, a picnic, your bevvie of choice, the kids, the dog (on a leash) and a couple of bucks to contribute to the SCC when they pass the hat at halftime…it’s a great deal of simple small-town summer fun.

Wednesday’s band was a wonderful young jazz trio called Michael Jazz Trio: the Godfrey brothers from Central Islip, NY, who share a middle name of Michael. Matthew, on keyboard, is the eldest at the ripe old age of 17; David, on bass and sax, is 15, and little brother Jordan, on drums is all of ten years old. And these kids write most of their own material. I’m a talent junkie — gifted with a little artistic talent, but not enough to make a living at it — I so appreciate talent in others. I was blown away by these kids. Check out their website. They’re going far!

Regarding the Concerts in the Park: This year we are really putting our money where our mouth is. In conjunction with Southampton Building Services, owned by our friend Steve Lemanski, we are sponsoring the concert on July 6 featuring one of our all-time favorite bands: The Lone Sharks. The concert will be held at Cooper’s Beach. Dancing in the sand as the sun sets — I am already planning the picnic menu!!!

Dropped into red bar brasserie’s newest sibling, called little/red — a slightly more casual rendition of its big brother, located just off Agawam Park. “Slightly more casual” means that there are a couple of more pub-like options on its otherwise elegant menu, and that it does not take reservations. They have a large patio which should be open for dining in the next week or so. We enjoyed our meal (I had some yummy monkfish with sauteed summer squash, and Chris had mussels) but found wine options a little pricey and lacking in selection. However, I’m sure little/red will soon be as popular as the other siblings in the “chain” which include Fresno in East Hampton and The Beacon in Sag Harbor. I know we’ll be back.

Speaking of new additions, it’s always fun to check out some of the new shops in Southampton village that are in full swing by Fourth of July weekend. Not too surprisingly, we have a growing crop of preppie clothes shops in town, including Vineyard Vines, that perennial Cape Cod favorite that took over the large shop on Main Street where Villeroy & Boch had held court for so many years. Women’s clothing shops are always plentiful, so it’s nice to see a new shop for the guys: Peter Millar is perfect for the golf course. One shop I positively love is MacKenzie-Childs, whose fun painted enamelware and colorful accent pieces — reminiscent somehow of Alice in Wonderland — I first saw showcased in London Jeweler’s East Hampton store. Someday I am going to figure out exactly where I can add some of their creative pieces to A Butler’s Manor’s decor…

Quote of the Day: “And the night shall be filled with music,/And the cares that infest the day/Shall fold their tents like the Arabs/And as silently steal away.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day Is Done

The taste of summer

Most of our guests visit A Butler’s Manor for R&R, but there are some who are on business, and we strive to be as close to “home” (without the distractions often found there!) as possible. Patrick, a recent guest, was doing a “deep breathe” between two business conferences. He still had calls to make and reports to send, but with our WiFi operational over the whole property, here’s where he made his “office.”  If you’ve got to work, this is not too shabby, eh?

It’s been a week of exceptionally congenial guests who have evidently enjoyed both their stay and each other. Each day guests have lingered over the breakfast table (okay, so the breakfast table IS in Chris’s garden), chatted with each other at the pool, sat down together in the living room after coming home from dinner…just a really simpatico crowd. It gives me such a warm feeling to see that happen.

Weather on tap for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend is supposed to be perfect — 80 degrees and clear. I’m sure the Butlermobile (a.k.a. the Buick Roadmaster) will be making lots of trips to and from Cooper’s Beach this weekend! Also perfect weather to enjoy a lobster overlooking the marina in Hampton Bays at Sunwaters Grill or Tide Runners (greedy me, I’ve done both this week). The latter has entertainment on the dock overlooking the Shinnecock Canal, and judging by the crowd on the night we went (Sunday), some of those bands have quite a following. A warm night, a breeze off the water, sweet lobster in melted butter, a tropical drink and some live music…doesn’t get much better than that!

Speaking of live music, tonight (Wednesday) begins the summer Concerts in the Park series here in Southampton Village. I’ve said before how this is one of my all-time favorite things to do in summer. Agawam Park (at the base of Job’s Lane) fills up with families out to enjoy a true small-town good time. Pack a picnic, grab a beach chair and a bottle of wine and enjoy the music and the ambiance, while the little kids dance in front of the bandstand or run off to the playground. The Southampton Cultural Center, which funds this wonderful summer activity, sends the bucket brigade around at halftime to collect a small voluntary donation to pay the bands that entertain us. Most of us locals have been attending these concerts for years, and are happy to drop a few bucks in the bucket. So (WARNING, rant ahead!) it just frosts me to see, as I did tonight, a group comprised of say, a couple of women, perhaps their husbands, four or five children, and one or two nannies (!) enjoying the evening, but who shrug and shake their heads when the bucket brigade reaches them as if to say oops, sorry, didn’t bring any money. Worse, I’ve seen people ignore these volunteers altogether, turning away from them as though they didn’t exist. Come on, folks! Southampton is, overall, a very well-to-do community. There is no excuse for not helping to preserve the little joys that contribute to making it such a great place to live and visit.

Okay, stepping off the soapbox now.

We look forward to a great weekend, and helping our guests enjoy all that the Hamptons have to offer, that they will come away loving it the way we do.

Quote of the Day: A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. — James Dent

Guests who become friends

As I tell people often, my only contribution to Chris’s garden is that I cut flowers to make arrangements for A Butler’s Manor’s guest rooms. In high summer, I have lots to choose from. Last year, one of our regular summer guests was enjoying the pool and we were chatting while I was cutting from the rose garden beside it, piling up blooms on one arm. The next time Jackie came to stay, she brought me a wonderful present: a long, narrow basket to be used for gathering flowers. You can see by the picture how it comes in handy (and look at the lovely flowers we have available), and not just for gathering flowers! Last fall, I filled the basket with small gourds, autumn leaves, and a scattering of yellow mum flowers, and it became the centerpiece for the dining room table. Over Christmas, I filled it with greens and low votive candles. I’m still working on ideas for a spring arrangement…
On the subject of return guests…one of the most rewarding things about owning a B&B is the friendship that develops with many of our guests who return again and again. We look forward to catching up with them each time they visit. Occasionally, we lose them as guests (but not as friends!) because of relocation or other job factors.
Jack and Tom are private pilots who would occasionally stay with us when their employer overbooked his summer house here in Southampton. As often as not, they didn’t need accommodations because there was room on the estate, but when they were in town, they’d often call to see if we were free, and stop over with a bottle of wine that we’d enjoy in the garden, or we’d join them for dinner at Le Chef. Alas — the employer’s summer house was sold last year…we sure miss them.
Sometimes people fall in love with the area and buy their own house here, so we lose them as guests, but gain them as neighbors! Such is the case with John, who stopped by on his bike the other day to say hello. He’s found a house in the village and may find a way to make it his primary residence. It will be fun seeing him and his family at concerts in the park and other “local” events.
But mostly, it’s just not summer to Chris and me without a chance to check in with some of the good people who return each year for a chance to relax in the sun!
Quote of the Day: You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth. —H.L. Mencken

Free Entertainment

I admit it, most things in and around the Hamptons are not cheap, especially in the summer. Which is why it’s wonderful to share some of the best things we’ve found you can do here for little or no money.

Our favorite event here in Southampton is the Concerts in the Park series held at Agawam Park on Wednesdays between July 4th and Labor Day weekends. The band might be R&B/rockabilly (like the perennial local favorite group, the Lone Sharks), reggae, Big Band, Latin Jazz, 50’s and 60’s, or many other styles. It almost doesn’t matter. What matters is that you grab a beach chair from the back porch, pick up a sandwich at Schmidt’s or Job’s Lane Deli or a pizza at La Parmigiana, uncork a bottle of wine, and enjoy the sounds of music in the open air as the sun sets over the park and the sight of the little children (and sometimes adults!) dancing in front of the bandstand. The event is free, but the Southampton Cultural Center, who organizes it each year, sends out a bucket brigade at intermission to collect donations, and we encourage people to put what they can in that bucket…this is a wonderful resource that we stand to lose without support.

Other communities out here have outdoor concerts as well — Montauk, on the village green on Monday evenings in July, Sag Harbor at Marine Park on Bay Street on Thursdays in August.

Chris and I haven’t had the opportunity to catch one of the games of the new Hamptons Baseball League, part of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, but they are fielding several talented teams this year, with games nearly every day of the week in various locations around the Hamptons (Southampton/Stony Brook University, right up the road, is our nearest venue). The ACBL is sanctioned by the NCAA, partially funded by Major League Baseball and is one of only nine summer leagues approved by the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball, so these guys are good!! More information here.

Not free, but mighty cheap for a full day of fun (and somehow, an event you’d almost expect to be in the Hamptons during the summer season): Go watch a polo match. For six weeks midsummer, Mercedes Benz sponsors the Polo Challenge matches in Bridgehampton. Okay, so you don’t have a friend with VIP passes to get you in the tent, but $20 a carload will get you bleacher or tailgate seats (and you’ll actually get to see the match). Never seen polo up close and personal? This is a fast moving sport, and the horses are incredibly trained.

One of the best values ever is the annual Hampton Classic Horse Show, which this year will take place August 23 – 30 off Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton. All ages compete in world-class hunting and jumping events, and Olympic champions often compete in the Grand Prix event on the final Sunday afternoon. Events on the days up until the Grand Prix are $20 a carload, with a fantastic shopping arcade of related merchandise to wander through, and the Grand Prix itself, a premier equestrian event, is $20 per person for bench seats, $30 for premium seats. (Just for fun, you can check out the celebrities competing in their own right for media attention in the VIP tent opposite the ring.) Bring your hat and some sunscreen and see some exquisite horsemanship — you’ll be whistling My Fair Lady’s “Ascot Gavotte” as you go.

Finally, many guests here have been enjoying our favorite free entertainment each night: Firefly season in Chris’s garden. Fireflies have been working their magic each night from dusk on, sparkling against the backdrop of the deep green foliage and illuminating the ghostly white flowers of the Annabelle hydrangeas, spireas, and astilbes with their brief, teasing radiance. And for those like me, who didn’t grow up in an area where fireflies are summer residents, it’s worth the stroll out of the car park at A Butler’s Manor past Mrs. Jagger’s field next door, where the sheer abundance of fireflies in their preferred habitat makes the open space a fairy-lit wonderland, almost like a miniature holiday display.

Who says you can’t enjoy yourself in the Hamptons without spending a lot of money?

Quote of the Day: The summer night is like a perfection of thought. —Wallace Stevens