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Trobairitz Julia King releases her new EP of original songs, “Inside Out,” this month. (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Just like Madonna said, music does in fact make the people come together. The East End of Long Island is a tight-knit community and our local musicians are a strong, sonic part of that fabric, providing the summertime soundtrack for the Hamptons. Each act fills their respective role as far as the multitude of styles you can tune into on any given afternoon or evening, whether listeners are looking for a country cowboy crooner, a conscious reggae rebel, a New Orleans-style swinging brass band or a singer tapping into songwriting for the first time. It’s a robust rockin’ community we’ve got out here! And while this list isn’t by any means exhaustive (really, it could be its own little book), here are some of our faves for your toe-tappin’, booty-shakin’ body swayin’ pleasure. 

Nancy Atlas. (Photo credit: Lori Hawkins)

Nancy Atlas and her supersonic sound

If there was any one single person who consistently and convivially draws a crowd to East End music venues, it’s Montauk-based songstress Nancy Atlas. For decades now, the Long Island-born guitar-raging, piano-playing, tambourine-shaking soulful singer has created a delightfully commanding year-round presence to the South Fork stages she inhabits, beloved for her high-energy, innately raw performances that evoke the rocker within us all. 

Along with her equally talented band that make up The Nancy Atlas Project (whose members include Joe Delia, Johnny Blood, Greg McMullen, Brett King and Denny McDermott) a concert with Atlas evokes her ubiquitous “live large, play hard” supersonic mantra she’s become synonymous with. She’s got that touch of Janis Joplin’s grit combined with the soulfulness of Aretha Franklin all wrapped up in a bodacious blond not afraid to rock your socks off.

Winston Irie. (Photo credit: Ken Grille)

Feel Alright with Winston Irie

Originally born in Guyana, South America, reggae artist Winston Irie settled in Brooklyn, eventually making his way to the South Fork in 1993 after performing at what used to be Southampton College, now Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus. Reminded of his coastal homeland, he decided to stay and made the East End his permanent home. A Sag Harbor resident, Irie (along with his Selective Security Band) is a favorite of the East End community for his warm, laid-back vibes and singing style indicative of Jamaican roots. It’s familiar, it’s easy and it’s something you’re pretty much always down to hear, no matter the season.

“I like conscious music,” he says, meaning music that is inspiring, soothing and uplifting while promoting a strong sense of connectedness among the people listening. “And, you know, a little country and R&B doesn’t hurt either.”

While Irie has become beloved for his covering of Bob Marley-esque tunes as well as his easy, breezy nature, his recently released original record “Orthodoxy,” is a passionate look at the history of religion and culture of the people of Ethiopia. Earlier this spring the album ranked in the top 10 of New York State’s Foundation Radio Network Reggae Chart. 

“The most important thing, for me, is to put a smile on someone’s face,” he says. “Sometimes, you can feel like life is bashing you over the head, but whenever someone tells me they feel so much better after one of my shows, I tell you, it’s the greatest compliment you can get.”

Gene Casey. (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Well-traveled troubadour Gene Casey

When singer/songwriter Gene Casey came to the eastern end of Long Island from New York City back in the late ’80s, he brought a little bit of his honky-tonk flair and “maximum rhythm and twang” with him. He formed The Lone Sharks, colloquially known as “the house band of the Hamptons,” bringing a boundless, strutting kind of energy to the live music scene that’s both a little bit country and a little bit rock ’n’ roll, and whole lot of rockabilly. While known for playing at some of the area’s most beloved bars, restaurants, libraries and locales of both the North and South forks, Casey and his Lone Sharks are give off a modern-day Johnny Cash vibe, with a whole lot of finesse and the right amount of edge.

Sara Mundy. (Photo courtesy of Sara Mundy)

Sara Mundy, from singer to songwriter

Shelter Island’s own Sara Mundy considers her musical world a collaborative affair. “I have been so very fortunate to sing with the local greats out here, officially and unofficially,” she says, noting some nights she’s out in the crowd and will get pulled up on stage to sing a song or two with the likes of The Realm, Hopefully Forgiven and Grease Trap, and even performing with local heavy hitters like Nancy Atlas and the HooDoo Loungers. “This is so special because it really feels like we are all one big, happy music family,” she says. “North Fork and South Fork musicians are all connected and know each other well.”

Right now, Mundy’s focus is shifting from singing to songwriting. “I have always been a singer first,” she says. “Past writing experience was always within a large group and I never felt like I was much of a writer. I have very recently started messing around with some of my own melodies and hope to put some lyrics to them soon,” she says. “I may be reaching out to these East End artists for help with that!” 

The HooDoo Loungers bring big band sound

If you took the very best wedding band you’ve ever heard in your life and peppered in the spirit of a New Orleans brass ensemble, you’d have the HooDoo Loungers, the 12-member-strong group that masterfully blends rock, jazz, big brass instrumentals, R&B and funk with a little hit of blues and swing, just for that extra razzle-dazzle. 

HooDoo Loungers. (Photo courtesy of HooDoo Loungers)

Armed with a bewitchingly vintage sound, the HooDoo’s include David Giacone, Michael Schiano, David Deitch, Dan Koontz, Josh LeClere, Joe Lauro, Doug Dean, and vocalist Dawnette Darden with a horn section consisting of Eric Miller, Eric Kay, Chris Ripley and John Brierly. Their latest album “So Beautiful” was recorded over the initial lockdown brought on from the COVID-19 pandemic and was released back in 2022, as an attempt to offer listeners a little boost of “positivity at a time when we really need it,” according to their website.

The wonderful world of Julia King

Greenport’s Julia King is an OG soul sister. Whether she’s effortlessly belting killer renditions of classics, like Leonard Cohen’s anthem “Hallelujah” or Amy Winehouse’s beloved “Valerie” or singing one of her own originals, King’s music is a generous offering for faithful fans, taking listeners on a wickedly delicious auditory journey that evokes both the contemplative, and quite possibly, the spiritual. 

Set to be released this month (June 21), her latest album, “Inside Out,” explores the juxtaposition of light and dark and is sure to make any listener a devout disciple to her cause. “It confronts the contrasts between conformity and inner rebellion,” she writes, “the voice in your head versus the voice people hear. By exposing the dark you can begin to the let the light in.” Armed with an arsenal of live streaming concerts readily available on her social media platforms, the flutist, guitarist, songwriter and singer isn’t scared of this vast, versatile world. She leans into it, and for that, we’re grateful.

The Realm. (Photo courtesy of John Kneeland)

Bringing the East End into a whole new Realm

It’s party music, but with a whole lot of heart.

That’s how founding member John “Woody” Kneeland describes his nearly three-decades-old band The Realm, which he originally started during his college days in West Virginia. “We’re just a bunch of local guys that love playing music,” says the Sag Harbor resident, vocalist, guitarist and trumpet player for the East End-based band, that’s a perfectly playful mixture of rock, ska, reggae and funk. 

Drawing influences from bands ranging from The Police and Sublime to Pearl Jam and The Grateful Dead, Kneeland, along with band members and fellow East End residents Will Fujita (saxophone/electric violin), Ed Drohan (drummer), Jim Terry (guitar/vocals) and Matt Stedman (bass/vocals), have five albums of original music under their belts and are notorious for playing three-hour shows without taking breaks. “Nancy [Atlas] says I’m crazy,” he quips. “But if I can’t put my heart into it, I can’t really sing it.”

Predominantly playing at local bars, like The Montaukett, Salt and Port, The Realm has morphed into the East End’s own jam band of sorts, full of genuine high energy and here just for us. “The last couple of years for us has been so insane,” Kneeland says. “For this upcoming season already, we’re pretty much booked every weekend until November.”