On the brink of 50, legendary Rufus Wainwright’s music genre is hard to pin down. But one thing’s certain: he’s got lots of friends, family, and fans, all in full display at his birthday concert bash last night to benefit Montauk’s historic lighthouse, now turned 227 years old. Maintaining this edifice takes more than a village, and from the looks of the sloped grounds outside, everyone was pitching in.
The same could be said of the performances, featuring Tig Notaro, Katie Couric, Jimmy Fallon, Jenni Muldaur, Laurie Anderson, Chris Stills, Chaim Tannenbaum, G. E. Smith, Wainwright sisters Martha and Lucy, daughter Viva, and more. Hosting or just hanging around for the first-rate music were Liev Schreiber, Ross Bleckner, Bruce Weber and Nan Bush, Peggy Siegal, Christie Brinkley and Cynthia Nixon. Many spirits hung around too: many of Rufus’ mom Kate McGarrigle’s songs were sung, Laurie Anderson performed a song by Lou Reed about how to see in the dark.
Wainwright started off the generous three-hour concert with Irving Berlin’s “How Much Do I Love You?” Who knew that Berlin actually spent time in Montauk? Wainwright does the American songbook, folk, jazz, rock with ease. Everyone waits to hear Rufus’ cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which he dedicated to the artist Eric Freeman who recently died and who is scheduled to have an exhibition at Guild Hall in the coming year. After a duet on Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” Rufus congratulated Chris Stills on his marriage to Stacy. They had just flown in from the Vineyard for the occasion. I am still not over G. E. Smith’s guitar solo on “Memory Motel.” And Amber Martin led everyone in a rousing version of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.”
Paul Simon, who like Rufus, has a long history in Montauk, could not attend, but was remembered anyway. Back in the day, his were the chops behind a series of yearly concerts near the lighthouse at the ranch with the likes of The Eagles and James Brown. For ambiance, the East End’s landscape was extraordinary under the night sky it was “the end!” but just of Long Island. Not for nothing, the night was called, “50 is not the end.”
That came later at Ruschmeyer’s where the party, shared with his husband Jorn Weibrodt, continued with cake.
photos 2023 by Regina Weinreich for Showbiz411.com