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The site of big names and local acts, Stephen Talkhouse is an East End icon. Shown here: perdussionist Mila Tina at the Female Battle of the Fantasy Girl Bands show. (Photo credit: Nicholas Grasso)

(Photo credit: Eleanor P. Labrozzi)

My very first concert wasn’t at a big arena like Jones Beach or Madison Square Garden. It was Bay Street in the ‘80s. Rick James had launched an all-female group called The Mary Jane Girls (oh, come on now — it was quintessential Rick James!), and I will never forget that electric feeling of experiencing a live performance up close and personal. My friends and I danced like crazy and sang at the top of our lungs and, I’m pretty certain, my face ached for at least a good half day from smiling so much.

But that’s what live music — and, really, any kind of in-person, joyful entertainment — does for us. I know we’re all kind of tired of talking about the Before Days, but seriously: if I walked away with anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s I really like hanging out with my fellow humans. 

Life is so very back to normal, whatever normal is these days, but that crazy, strange loop of solitary time did alter some stuff. For creatives Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock Morsch, it took their then-nascent Southampton store, Hidden Gem (an amazing, one-of-a-kind store that’s become a big fave of mine) and spawned a whole new facet of their business: tablescapes! These two local sisters don’t just have an incredible co-creative eye for beauty and design, the things they manifest come from a place of sincerity and care and connection — it’s really what makes their work so unique, and I truly enjoyed getting to know them for the story.

I think I’m also more inclined these days to head out to a show, and Stephen Talkhouse is always high on my list. Staff reporter Nicholas Grasso — a music hound himself — got to the heart of this beloved music hub owned by Peter Honerkamp, now run with his two children (so, thank goodness, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon). And some of your favorite local troubadours who’ve performed on that legendary stage and other spots around these parts are featured in our summer story of must-see musicians. 

Another thing we take joy in engaging in? The theater of restaurants. Check out the newly revamped digs of Southampton stalwart Shippy’s and read Emily Toy’s great chat with new owner John Betts, and the thoughtful ways he managed to both update the 70-year-old spot and respect its history.

And for those of you entertaining at home, writer and photographer Doug Young won’t let a little rain dampen your dining plans — he’s got a fool-proof recipe from Calissa head chef Alex Tubero for crispy, cracklin’ pork shoulder that’s summer-ific but that you can make in the oven just in case Mother Nature decides to throw your alfresco agenda for a loop.  

Because entertainment? It’s what you make of it. I’ve yanked out this little trope before here, but it’s wisdom from my BFF’s mom that she’d throw at us when we’d be wallowing in our lack of creativity and it’s stuck with me a lifetime: You’re not bored, you’re boring. Get out there, Hamptonites – it’s SUMMER! The good times are there for the grabbing.

Amy Zavatto

Editor-in-Chief, Southforker 

P.S. About that cover — last fall, I wandered down a little brick alleyway off Jobs Lane and into sister-owned Hidden Gem and was thoroughly enchanted by the happy, warm vibe in this aptly named store and tablescape business. If you haven’t been in, you need to go; it’s special. And so are the photos that Doug Young took, capturing the unique wares (which often show up in their party-planning vignettes) hand-sourced by owners Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock Morsch. Hidden gem, indeed!