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Jack's Waterfall.
The band Jack’s Waterfall performed at last year’s Winterfest Kickoff party.

The 9th annual Long Island Winterfest – Live on the Vine festival will hold its kickoff party at the Suffolk Theater on Friday, February 19.

The festival marks the beginning of its five-week, mid-winter wine event and concert series with Long Island rockers Miles to Dayton, acclaimed roots guitarist Toby Walker and singer-songwriter Andrew Fortier.

The event, which will run every weekend from February 19 through March 20, 2016, is promising its most eclectic season ever. More than 70 concerts and wine events will be held in over 40 venues on Long Island’s East End, including tasting rooms, boutique hotels and historic theaters.

The festival, which has been a collaboration of the Long Island Wine Council and East End Arts since its inception, will now feature 23 specialty wine tasting and education events at various North and South fork vineyards.

Think small classes hosted by winemakers and samples of rare library wines.

This series, titled “The Art of Wine,” will supplement music acts at various hotels, concert halls and select wineries during Winterfest.

The wineries’ shift from music to events like blind tastings and blending trials reflects the Long Island Wine Council’s new marketing strategy, which focuses on the product rather than drawing entertainment-seeking crowds.

That is not to say there won’t be plenty of concerts rocking East End music venues this winter.

Emerging artists and legendary artists will perform a showcase of musical styles, from jazz to country to folk and world music. Artists scheduled to perform include Grammy-winning music icon Judy Collins, New Orleans favorite The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Paul Simon bassist Bakithi Kumalo & Friends, plus Americana singer Amy Helm. Jazz greats performing include the Randy Brecker quartet, featuring Ava Rovatti, as well as drummer Bryan Carter & his trio. The Late Night Gospel Choir will perform a Gospel Brunch and the final concert will feature the one and only Jefferson Starship.

The Live on the Vine concert series starts with the Winterfest kickoff party on Friday, February 19 at the Suffolk Theater. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, theater doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are limited and can be purchased by calling the theater box office at (631) 727-4343 or online at suffolktheater.com. The Suffolk Theater is located at 118 E. Main Street in Riverhead.

For a complete list of show schedules, ticket and artist information, packages and special offers, visit liwinterfest.com.

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