Friday night’s lineup for the Live on the Vine Long Island Winterfest kickoff event brought a top-notch collection of local musical talent to a jam-packed Suffolk Theater.
Gene Casey and The Lone Sharks, Bakithi Kumalo and Mambo Loco all graced the stage — even teaming up for an East End all-star encore, which included a cover of Santana’s “Oye Como Va.”
East End Arts executive director Pat Synder called it the “dream team.” It’s hard to disagree.
Kumalo, best known as the bassist for the legendary Paul Simon, has played every Winterfest to date, but Friday night’s performance will be his only appearance this season. The man behind the classic bass line on “You Can Call Me Al,” will embark next month on a North American tour with Mr. Simon that includes dates at Madison Square Garden and several performances with Sting, beginning Feb. 8, the day Winterfest first hits the wineries.
But the East Setauket resident still wanted to help out East End Arts and the Long Island Wine Council, so he performed on the bill Friday night along with the other two local mainstays.
The beloved Lone Sharks, fronted by the North Fork’s own Mr. Casey, are a perfect nod to a change in direction for Winterfest, from a mostly jazz lineup to one that now includes rock & roll. Latin jazz band Mambo Loco is a more traditional Winterfest player, but one with an up-tempo style, fueled by local keyboardist Bill Smith and lead vocalist and conguero Larry Belford, that fills the dance floor.
The North Fork, thanks in large part to these winery events, has become a hotbed for live local musical talent. Nowhere was that more evident than at the Suffolk Theater Friday night.