Goblets filled with local wine or beer, whole animals roasted over pits and an acoustic performance from a top recording artist is how North Fork chef Keith Luce throws a Fourth of July barbecue.
The chef at Jamesport’s announced last week that blues/hip-hop artist G. Love will headline his NoFo Summer of Love event this Independence Day, marking the first time a current star has played a North Fork venue in many years, he said.
Luce organized the event after Mark Grimaldi, a Suffolk County sales manager for wine importer Michael Skurnik Wines, told him he could deliver G. Love for the event through a personal connection to the artist.
“I mean, the guy just played Bonnaroo,” Luce said.
G. Love, born Garrett Dutton, has recorded 15 albums since his debut in 1993, with his latest, “Fixin to Die,” created in collaboration with indie success story The Avett Brothers. G. Love has toured extensively with Jack Johnson, as well.
Tickets to the Summer of Love event cost $200 apiece, covering drinks, food and performances by G. Love, American Idol Season 9 finalist (top 7) Bryce Larsen and blues artist John Divello. Luce, a James Beard Award-winning chef, said he plans to roast lambs, pigs, chickens and seafood, which he’ll serve with a slew of sides.
“We’re just going to go ballistic with local ingredients,” Luce said.
At the same time, wine mogul Charles Bieler of Three Thieves fame will be on hand with Schnieder Vineyards owner Bruce Schneider to pour wines from their new collaboration, Gotham Project. Schneider will serve his local vino from Gotham’s custom wine keg system. Also, Bay Shore-based Great South Bay Brewery will serve the beer.
In order to ease concerns over loud events at North Fork restaurants or wineries, Luce wanted to be sure he booked acts that could play acoustic sets.
“Just because we chose to play music at a restaurant doesn’t mean it has to be raucous,” he said, adding that he’s capping attendance at 90 tickets sold. He’ll also turn away gate crashers the day of the event.
Using music to draw a crowd isn’t exactly new on the North Fork. Events like the use live artists to pack wineries in the winter.
Cutchogue’s also regularly books musicians, many of whom achieved their fame long ago.
“Our NoFo Rock and Folk Festival … last year we featured performers like Jorma Kaukonen, the Subdudes, Pat diNizio of the Smithereens, rock group Mountain and the legendary Richie Havens,” said General Manager James Silver.
This year’s event, on July 30 and July 31, will feature John Sebastian, Elvin Bishop, Commander Cody and Foghat.
“For us, music draws crowds, but also draws attention to our wine, our farm and to agriculture in general which is a very positive thing for the area,” Silver said.
Luce and Grimaldi, however, are banking that a current artist like G Love playing on the North Fork will pave the way for more mainstream acts.
“If we can make this a success, we have connections to some pretty major acts,” said Luce, whose accomplishments in restaurants in Chicago, Aspen and California earned him national attention as a rising star.
“There’s no reason not to continue doing these,” Luce said.
For example, Luce and Grimaldi said they have been in talks with the Roots drummer Questlove.
The NoFo Summer of Love event, which runs from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 4, has the potential to go out with a bang, too. The Village of Jamesport’s July 4th fireworks display will go on across from the restaurant right after the show ends.
“You’ll eat like a king, drink like a king, and then it ends with fireworks,” Grimaldi said.