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’Festival Express’ in the Hamptons

Originally Posted: September 24, 2004

Debbie Tuma

It was like taking a trip back in time, to one of the most exciting eras in rock history, last weekend, at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. This renovated art deco theater, located on Main Street, presented one of the greatest performance films of all time, called, "Festival Express," which showed probably the most vivid performances of Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia ever seen on the big screen.

This theater was packed all weekend, with showings of this 90-minute movie, from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. The movie is the story of a three-day train ride, called the "Festival Express," across Canada, in 1970. Aboard this train were some of the best rock and blues groups and performers of this incredible era, including The Grateful Dead, The Band, Janis Joplin, Buddy Guy, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Sha-Na-Na. Back then this was a rare and unusual occurance to have all these talented performers traveling together at one time, and being able to just hang out and play music non-stop, 24 hours a day on the train, in between concert tours.

This film includes never-before released footage of these groups in the very up-close and personal video style of this era. It shows the musicans jamming, partying, and playing to audiences all over Canada, and also shows many of the protests of this time, of fans who refused to pay for the concert, thinking it should be free.

The author, Debbie Tuma, attending the movie
'Festival Express'in 70's attire

This great movie may be returning to the Hamptons at another theater, after creating a buzz here, but for those who missed it, check out the website at www.festivalexpress.com to see where else you can catch it!

And for all you movie-lovers, it's not too soon to start planning to attend the upcoming Hamptons International Film Festival, which kicks off this year from October 20-24, in the theaters of East Hampton Cinema, Guild Hall, Sag Harbor Cinema, and Westhampton Performing Arts Center. One of the opening or closing night movies stars Nicole Kidman, who could be present at this year's festival. Also, we hear that Lauren BaCall, of Bridgehampton, will be honored.

This festival. which extends the fall season, is always packed with interesting actors, directors, and tourists from all over the world. You can call the festival office at 324-4600 for information. Phone sales for tickets starts September 24, by calling 1-866-hiff-tix. Or you can go online at www.hamptonsfilmfest.org. This year, there is a new box office location at 60 On The Circle, behind the Bank of New York in East Hampton.

Lots of art happenings took place last weekend, with some fascinating new exhibits running through October. Over at the Elaine Benson gallery in Bridgehampton, there was an opening reception last Saturday for artist Dick Stone, who created giant paintings which looked exactly like textiles. It seemed as though you could reach out and touch these fabric-like paintings, which didn't even look like paint! He studied with Joseph Albers, famed colorist.

Dick Stone

Gallery owner Kimberly Goff was on hand greeting guests, who included Paul Brennan of Prudential Real Estate, Stanley Cohen, lawyer of the famed sculptor Calder, Dan Rattiner, and Antonio Ciccone, Italian artist who has also exhibited at the Benson in the past. This worthwhile exhibit is up through October 1.

If you like sea creatures, or even seafood, you will not want to miss seeing some amazing, life-like sculptures of crabs, which are on display now through mid-october at the Fondrisi Gallery in Southampton. Sculptor Harry Saarinen, of Amityville, has created some of the most outrageous huge crabs out of steel! There is a life-size blue crab, and several smaller horse shoe crabs, welded out of a super-strong steel. These crabs could be placed outside a restaurant or business, and coated to withstand the temperatures and weather. Saarinen, a fascinating character himself, is a big, brawny guy who has a great sense of humor, and who loves to portray the sea-life of Long Island in his own whimsical style. Families and children would especially get a kick out of seeing these real-looking crabs.While at the Fondrisi Gallery, also check out another interesting new exhibit of fabric and conceptual art, by self-proclaimed "urban folk artist" Roberta LaRosa. Her current exhibit, "Food For Thought," which opened last Saturday night, contains a combination of fabric art and advertising themes, from her days spent working in the ad field. Her oeces incorporate typography and words, like one of a flag made out of colored computer keys.

Mary Ellen Winston, Author
of The "Cabbie Cookbook"

Author Mary Ellen Winston, of East Hampton, signed copies of her new book, "The Cabbie Cookbook" (about NYC driver's recipes) at this opening.

This fall, there were no end to maritime festivals, starting with Sag Harbor, then Montauk and Greenport last weekend. Unfortunately, the Montauk Festival got rained out last Saturday, but fortunately, the two-day one in Greenport also continued last Sunday, which turned out to be beautiful, with lots of people wandering the Greenport docks and eating in the restaurants there.

The best weather in the Hamptons is always in September, with a record number of sunny days in a row, so get out and enjoy the sun! Most of the seaside restaurants, like Gosman's Dock Restaurant in Montauk, are open through Columbus Day Weekend. Fishing in Montauk has never been better, with charter trips available until Thanksgiving. Another fun thing to do in the fall is to take a trip to Block Island, and the Viking Fleet Ferries of Montauk run weekends through Columbus Day.

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