Jim Faith on this year's Great South Bay Music Festival, promoting concerts & more
For nearly 30 years, as owner of J Faith Presents, Jim Faith has been one of Long Island's top concert promoters. Based in Port Jefferson, Jim has produced shows for the likes of James Brown, Tony Bennett, B.B. King, The Beach Boys, and Alice Cooper. With business partner (and daughter) Jamie, he booked the Brookhaven Amphitheatre in Farmingville for seven years. Now, he is owner and producer of Long Island's largest longest-running music festival, the Great South Bay Music Festival, which returns to Patchogue from Jul. 13 to 16.
Aside from Great South Bay, Jim continues to produce other events, the 50th Anniversary of the Discovery of DNA for Cold Spring Harbor Labs at the Waldorf Astoria as one example. He is also known to give back behind the scenes, serving as a Founding Member of the Long Island Music Hall Of Fame and sitting on the Entertainment Committee for Long Island Cares, the Harry Chapin Food Bank.
No Place Like Long Island spoke with Jim about Great South Bay and what else he has coming up. More Great South Bay performers will be announced in the coming weeks, although the already-announced headliners -- Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, Saves The Day, 311, New Politics and The Wailers -- are a big deal as it is. More info can be found at www.greatsouthbaymusicfestival.com.
This year's festival lineup looks to be its biggest yet. What inspired that?
Jim Faith: From our first year, 11 years ago, we’ve been steadily growing. Our first headliners were Richie Havens and Foghat. Tickets were $10, and there was one main stage and an acoustic tent. Each year, with very small steps, we grew the fest. Stages got bigger, sound quality better, bigger artists, ..and attendance grew. A very "roots - organic" approach. In 2012 I brought in a new partner, and this move allowed me to upgrade to more A-list artists.
For someone who hasn't yet attended the Great South Bay Music Festival, how would you describe it?
Jim Faith: It is first and foremost a “family music festival." The ingredients that give it its own vibe and identity is its family dimension. I grew up in Brooklyn, lots of time in Prospect Park, Central Park, Great Lawn concerts, always families mixed in with the young concert-goers. It was always very important for me to keep that Woodstock, Newport, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage feel.
Additionally, we are not a themed blues, or jazz, or rock, or country fest. There is great music in all styles, and we’ve found that music lovers really enjoy a diverse lineup of great music, as well a being turned on to new important music. In addition to the names that everyone knows, like B.B. King, Graham Nash, and the Doobie Brothers, we have had civil rights and folk music icon Odetta, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Soulive, and many more.
Walking through the fest you will see four stages: two main stages, an emerging artist stage, and a KidsZone tent and stage presenting fun educational children’s artists. Lots of artisans and craftspeople, crafts brew’s tents, and a very diverse food court, all sitting on the backdrop of the Great South Bay.
A lot of Long Island music festivals have come and gone over the years. What do you think keeps Great South Bay as the Island's longest running? Is it the support of the town?
Jim Faith: Support of the local community, especially local government is important. If you don’t have it, it can bury you. The Village of Patchogue has been a friend since our first festival, in 2007. Regarding the fest itself, I think one of the ingredients that helped us to grow our popularity is that we are the closest thing to a community festival. We aren’t the huge corporate machine, $8 bottles of water, insane ticket prices, we are truly a roots - community fest. We support over six local not-for profits, and our ticket prices are ridiculously-low, considering some of our headliners and the amount of music you enjoy in one day. Our concessions are reasonable, our vibe is peaceful, laid back (for the most part), and again, you can’t beat the location.
Aside from Great South Bay, do you have any other events or festivals coming up?
Jim Faith: We are working on a huge fest for 2018, which I can’t say too much about right now. We enjoy working on private corporate events. In the past we have booked and produced Blondie, Tony Bennett, Beach Boys, George Benson, and even Heart in St. Thomas.
What was the first concert you ever promoted?
Jim Faith: Tito Puente at a place called Captain's Cove Seaport in Connecticut. He was supposed to provide a P.A., showed up without one, we had to move really quickly, but got it done, client was happy!
What was the last concert you attended as a fan?
Jim Faith: Peter Gabriel and Sting at the new Coney Island venue.
What's coming up for the Long Island Music Hall Of Fame?
Jim Faith: After being one of the founders and deeply involved for over 12 years, I have recently stepped down from the LIMHOF Executive Board, though still on the regular board. New for LIMHOF: A new mobile museum, that will travel to schools, venues, etc. educating the public about our rich music history. Our continual quest for the perfect location for our brick & mortar museum.
When not busy with concerts and such, how do you like to spend your free time?
Jim Faith: Hanging with my granddaughter, fiancé, family and kids! The beach, movies, and I do a lot of reading, music biographies. Love to travel. I know, boring,
What are some of your favorite restaurants on Long Island?
Finally, Jim, any last words for the kids?
Jim Faith: Don’t copy anyone, be your best original self! Put in your thousands of hours, do it because you love it, and have your word good!