Bluegrass band records at Jamesport Meeting House

From left to right: Alex DeTurk, engineer; Bill DeTurk, banjo and guitar; John Brisotti, mandolin and vocals;  Bruce Barry,  bass; Dave Thompson, guitar;  and Bill Avasse, fiddle. (Photo by Tim Gannon).

From left to right: Alex DeTurk, engineer; Bill DeTurk, banjo and guitar; John Brisotti, mandolin and vocals; Bruce Barry, bass; Dave Thompson, guitar; and Bill Avasse, fiddle. (Photo by Tim Gannon)

The Jamesport Meeting House has been a lot of things in its 275-plus years on the corner of Main Road and Manor Lane in Jamesport. 

It’s been a place where meetings are held — duh! — but it was originally a church and still is used by the North Fork Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Sundays. It’s also been a concert hall, a place where weddings are held and lately it’s been a recording studio.

The latter is what it’s being used for this weekend as the Eastbound Freight bluegrass band is using the Meeting House to record its second album.

Eastbound Freight has performed at the Meeting House at least four times, according to singer and mandolin player John Brisotti of Cutchogue.

That’s how they knew about it, and what led them to want to record there, he said.

“The sound is really phenomenal,” Mr. Brisotti said of the Meeting House.

The Meeting House has been used as a recording studio one or two other times, according to Richard Wines, a member of the Jamesport Meeting House Preservation Trust, which purchased the building several years ago when there was a possibility it could be developed commercially.

“There are three things that make the acoustics in the building so sweet,” Mr. Wines said. “First, it was built by Riverhead’s Puritan founders, and singing was an important part of their worship, so they designed it in a way that made the human voice sound good.

“Second is the classic shoe-box shape of the building, with it’s high ceiling. It’s much like all of the great concert halls, in that sound bounces of the sidewalls and comes back to you. And third, the wall and ceiling coverings are made out of pressed tin.”

The pressed tin, which was installed about a century ago, has deep patterns that diffuse the sound evenly throughout the room, he said.

“All of these factors, combined with the meeting house’s relatively intimate space, result in a hall where virtually every seat produces rich sound quality for the audience,” Mr. Wines said. “It is also a hall where musicians can hear themselves play, a very important factor in producing a quality performance.”

While Eastbound Freight has been together for about 25 years, this is only the bands second album.

“We do one every 20 years,” Mr. Brisotti joked. “People have been asking for it for a long, long time.”

While Mr. Brisotti lives in Cutchogue and owns a Mattituck-based insurance agency called Brisotti & Silkwood, the other members of Eastbound Freight — Bill Ayasse, Bill DeTurk, Bruce Barry and Dave Thompson  —  are all from the Stony Brook area, where Mr. Brisotti lived when he met them.

Members of Eastbound Freight recording inside the Jamesport Meeting House Saturday. (Tim Gannon Photo)

Members of Eastbound Freight recording inside the Jamesport Meeting House Saturday. (Tim Gannon Photo)

The group performs a lot on the East End, but also elsewhere on Long Island and the New York metropolitan area, Mr. Brisotti said.

“I really got into bluegrass in college, where I got interested in the music of Doc Watson,” Mr. Brisotti said. “He was kind of a crossover act, where a lot of people who were interested in other kinds of music became interested in bluegrass through Doc Watson’s music.”

The band’s three-day recording session at the Meeting House is being recorded by a professional sound engineer, but the group didn’t have to look far to find him.

Engineer Alex DeTurk is the son of group member Bill DeTurk.

Alex, who works at a sound mastering studio in Manhattan, recorded the group in the side room of the Meeting House, rather than in the part where meetings are held, but he put microphones in that section, which he said produced a better sound for the recording.

Mr. Brisotti said he’s hoping the group can have a release party for the album at the Meeting House.