Tonight at Guild Hall in East Hampton, the much anticipated Master Guitar series begins. These are live concerts featuring Andy Summers of the Police, legendary Richard Thompson, G.E. Smith of the original “SNL” band, and more.
Two weeks ago, Guild Hall hosted a pre-concert on the lawn at Tick Hall, Dick Cavett’s famed home in Montauk. Erudite talk show impresario Cavett has resided in Tick Hall since 1966, restoring his historic home with its waterfront views to exacting original detail shingle by shingle, even down to the fireplace tiles from Shropshire, England and including charming imperfections: a creak in the stairs and slight sag in the porch, after a fire in 1997, all done from memory or photos.
One arrives at this exclusive, remote, and stately house journeying along Ditch Plains over a long gravel road past a trailer park, itself beachfront prime real estate. Offered a house tour, guests could not resist the charm of Victorian era rooms looking to sea vistas, Montauk’s historic lighthouse, and an expanse of lush green.
“It’s the only one of the Seven Sisters with oceanfront because in the 1920s, then-owner Harrison Tweed bought all the available land down to the ocean and some behind the house,” said Cavett who was not present, but interviewed last year on the occasion of his putting the property up for sale for $62 million, the first time in its 135-year history. “His friends thought he was mad to squander five dollars an acre, saying ‘who will ever come out this far on Long Island to this “wild and inconvenient” place to bother you.’ True then, Tweed’s smart move became the envy of the less visionary. The property is now nearly 20 acres, surrounded by conserved land.” When it was built, it was called ‘a summer cottage.’ But it struck me as majestic, romantic, a storybook house by the sea. It made me gasp.”
Surely Cavett’s guests over the years have felt the same: among them, Montauk neighbors Andy Warhol, Edward Albee, and Percy Heath, and others from the worlds of theater and culture: Tennessee Williams, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Mary Tyler Moore, Dustin Hoffman, Lauren Bacall, Alec Baldwin, Javier Bardem, Christine Baranski, Robert Redford and Muhammad Ali. When Woody Allen, an unlikely admirer of such beauty in nature, visited, he said, “Cavett, this is a storybook setting.”
Guitarist G. E. Smith said he could while away the day on the wrap around porch, a listening perch for some. Others lazed on a grassy slope to hear Eric Clapton sideman Doyle Bramhall II (also FYI boyfriend of Renee Zellweger) cover the Beatles’ “Two of Us,” some tasty Muddy Waters, and with Adam Minkoff, his own “Mama Can’t Help You No More.”
Andy Summers and Ralph Gibson kick off the series tonight — just as the heat outside is dissipating it will be roaring like a fireplace in Guild Hall. And maybe Dick Cavett will come by, too.