Libertarians plan ‘Peacestock 2012′ music festival in Greenport

04/15/2012 6:00 PM |

Rick Witt, a recording engineer who was recently named the East End’s Libertarian candidate for Congress, has planned an unusual event to kick off his campaign: a three-day rock ‘n’ roll festival at his eight-acre property near the end of Gull Pond Road, a quiet residential street where half the houses back up to Gull Pond, just east of Greenport.

The event, dubbed Peacestock 2012, has garnered more attention than its organizers expected, and they are now considering moving it to a winery somewhere in Southold Town, Mr. Witt said this week.

“I said let’s have a little party. I liked the idea of having it at my house to kick off the campaign,” he said. “But my campaign manager said, ‘My God, Rick, I don’t know what we’re going to do’ ” when the event began to garner more attention than anticipated.

Finding a new location might be advisable, since town officials question whether an event of that scale charging an admission fee is permitted in a residential area.

The use question aside, the music could prove to be an early test of the town’s new noise ordinance.

“Training on the meters is complete and the meters are in police cars,” said Supervisor Scott Russell. “The noise issue is going to come to bear no matter where it’s held.”

At least 20 acts are expected to perform, and more are asking to play than can be fit onto one stage, said event promoter Keri-Anne Slate, who is also Mr. Witt’s campaign manager. Local bands Taost and Lesus Mor are scheduled to play, as well as Maya’s Fist, Tatiana Moroz, Thirteenth Hour, Kristofer Ambrose, NEOREV and Smiley Chris.

Ms. Slate has put together a social media promotional campaign, with an image of presidential candidate Ron Paul anchoring their Facebook page. The website promises a VIP reception Friday night, with music from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and a dance tent from midnight to 2 a.m.

The event promises on-site camping, food vendors, restrooms and showers.

Ms. Slate said Friday that she’s looking at moving the event to a winery.

“It might be bigger than we anticipated,” she said. “It’s gotten interest from outside groups.”

She said she’s still awaiting permit approvals to have alcohol vendors at the event and working out details with the town’s fire marshal.

Representatives of the Southold town clerk’s office said they haven’t received any information about the event, but they would not need to review the application because it’s not on public property. The town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which handles special events at wineries, also said they had no record of the event.

“It’s a private residence. We can have 500 people there, but we’re checking with the fire marshal,” said Ms. Slate. “There are trees and buildings on the property, but most of it’s precautionary. We don’t want to be shut down.”

Ms. Slate said the organizers are unsure who might benefit if the event makes a profit. The $40 entrance fee will likely cover the cost of the event,” she said.

“It’s not for politics. It’s mostly for the message of peace and to raise awareness,” she said. “It’s pretty low-budget. We’re trying to get other candidates interested, regardless of their party affiliation, as long as they’re against wars.”

Mr. Witt, a former marine electronics technician at Seatronics in Greenport, runs a recording studio called Beck Studios at his house. He was raised in Amagansett and has been involved in fishing and water issues throughout the 1st Congressional District for most of his life.

He has been involved with the Original Voices at the Vail concert series at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead, and hopes to have another campaign event at Vail-Leavitt later this year.

“I know a lot of musicians,” he said. “This campaign’s going to be centered around music.”

“Between Occupy Wall Street and the tea party and so many other groups, people are interested in running our government,” he said. “That makes our country different than every other country in the world. But we gave up on that basic principle. In the past six or seven years, we’ve developed the technology to make it work. I plan to bring my entire district to Washington.”

Mr. Witt said he was encouraged by others in the Libertarian Party to join the Republican primary with Randy Altschuler and George Demos, but he wants nothing to do with the Republican Party.

“If they put you in office, you have to do whatever the party chairman wants you to do,” he said. “This is a government of the people. Let’s put it back there.”

byoung@timesreview.com

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