It’s an irresistible comparison to make. But beyond the fact that all its members are related, Southold band Points East is decidedly nothing like “The Partridge Family.”
No, there’s nothing hokey about this operation (apologies to David Cassidy and crew). Keith Cummings, his son, Brian, and his daughter Heather just like making music together.
And for the past four years, they’ve been doing just that, entertaining East End audiences with their blend of acoustic country and alternative rock covers as a family.
That they ever came to be an established group was pure happenstance. One evening in 2010, Keith, along with Brian, now 28, and Heather, now 30, were casually singing and playing guitar at a Mattituck get-together when fellow partygoer Billy Gremler, owner of Billy’s by the Bay in Greenport, suggested they perform at his restaurant later that week.
“And we were like ‘OK,’ ” Keith explained before a gig at Lenz Winery in Peconic last month. An engineer by trade, he and his wife, Patti, also have a 15-year-old daughter, Evelyn. “That’s how it started.”
Mr. Gremler, a Mattituck native who grew up with Brian, recalled that the family “had a good sound” that he thought would appeal to broader audiences.
“Everybody enjoyed them,” he said. “And they’re local.”
Within a week of their breakout performance at Billy’s by the Bay the band, led by singer and guitar player Brian with backup vocals and instruments by Keith and Heather, played at Corey Creek Vineyard in Southold. Today, Points East performs at a slew of local wineries and bars and is also available for private parties and weddings.
This weekend, they’re set to play at the Maritime Festival in Greenport.
“They’re certainly blowing up,” Mr. Gremler said.
The band’s popularity probably isn’t surprising to anyone who’s had a chance to hear them play.
“They have a great local following,” said Jerol Bailey, tasting room manager at Lenz Winery. “They have a family feel and bring energy and passion to their music. They’re just so nice. I like working with them.”
Fans tell Brian, who was a member of the Southold High School chorus but hasn’t had any formal voice training, that he sounds like a cross between Amos Lee and David Gray. It’s an apt comparison: His powerful voice channels Lee’s folk roots but is evocative of Gray’s soulfulness.
Singing and playing instruments come easily for the Cummings family, which has always been musically inclined, Brian said, who works at the Southold Town planning department.
“It’s a passion,” he said. “Being in a band is just something that feels very natural. It’s never felt like work at all.”
Making sure they’re all in the same place at the same time is trickier, as is maintaining the momentum needed to perform regularly.
“Scheduling has definitely become harder throughout the years with a growing family, and really with each of us having full-time jobs,” said Heather, a nurse at Peconic Bay Medical Center who has two small children. “My work schedule is the hardest to work around, with 13-hour shifts and some weekends. So I’ve had to accept not being able to make all the gigs, which is difficult missing out [on].”
“It’s hard, day after day, to keep the energy up and keep positive all the time,” Keith added. “You work a hard day and then you have to come here and work together and become a different person, kind of. You have to change your attitude, for sure.”
For him, though, any challenges are outweighed by one distinct positive.
“I get to spend time creating music with my kids,” he said.
“Besides our love for music, Points East is all about family, too,” Heather added.