Former Monkee Peter Tork will give a private concert to benefit the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation at Sandpiper Ice Cream in Greenport on Oct. 3. He’ll also sign autographs at the shop that afternoon.
Die-hard Monkees fans know that Peter Tork was one of the most musical members of the group, but few of them have had the opportunity to see him give an intense, intimate performance.
On October 3, about 35 people will get a chance to see Mr. Tork play solo at the Sandpiper Ice Cream shop on Main Street, Greenport, and fans will be able to visit with the star there all afternoon.
Tickets to the 7 p.m. concert are on sale for $35 at the shop. While the performance hadn’t sold out by presstime, tickets were going fast. From 4 p.m. until the show, Mr. Tork will be at the shop signing autographs and memorabilia that will be on sale. For more information, call 477-1154.
Sandpiper owner Paris Stachtiaris has been a Monkees fan since he was four years old in 1969, when he first started watching reruns of their TV show on CBS. In the mid-1980s, as the program director of a college radio station in California, he hosted a weekly show about the Monkees and had the opportunity to interview Mr. Tork.
This summer, Mr. Stachtiaris tracked Mr. Tork down through his booking agent to schedule him for the Greenport show, a benefit for the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation. Mr. Stachtiaris decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to the foundation after learning that Mr. Tork had had two bouts with the slow-growing cancer. “This is the first benefit I’ve done that had much to do with ACC,” said Mr. Tork in a telephone interview this week. “This is kind of Paris to make this contribution” to the foundation, he said.
“We hired him because our customers like live entertainment,” said Mr. Stachtiaris. “We were thinking about getting a celebrity to do a signing. We wanted it to be somebody who lives nearby and would be good to the customers. He’s very personable, he lives in Connecticut and we thought it would be a good idea to have him come here.”
Mr. Tork, who plays piano, bass, guitar and banjo and played the French horn in high school, has been playing the blues since the mid-1980s. He currently tours with a band he formed several years ago called Shoe Suede Blues, but he will be playing solo in Greenport.
“I’ll bring my banjo and guitar and do a 70 minute show,” he said. “If I’m going to do anything with Monkees songs in shows, I want to bring as much imagination into it as possible. ‘I’m a Believer,’ I do it almost directly but I’m planning to shift the beat, make it pop a little bit, put a little bit of swing into the underbeat.”
“You can’t play ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ in a blues version, you can’t cram that into that mode, but I do do a bluesier version of ‘Last Train to Clarksville,'” he said.
“I was always interested in the blues. You need to be reminded why it’s OK to be alive. Bad stuff happens to everybody. If you don’t know that the bad stuff happens to everybody, when bad stuff happens to you, you think you’re out of the loop, you’re an outcast,” he said. “Blues will help get you out of it.”
Though few of the Monkees’ early songs were written or played by band members, Mr. Tork had initially set out to be a working musician. He had been playing on the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s and had just moved to California when fellow musician Stephen Stills suggested that he attend a screen test for The Monkees TV show, for which the band was created. It took repeated encouragement for Mr. Tork to try out for the part.
“I was just another moo in the cattle call,” he said. “At the time, I was a busboy jerking beers in a club in southern California, trying to get gigs. With what I had been doing in Greenwich Village, to get the same number of gigs in California, it took a 50 mile round-trip drive, and I had no car. I was doing a lot of hitchhiking.”
Mr. Stachtiaris said that, when he was a kid, he found Mr. Tork’s character on The Monkees show difficult to like, because he played the dim-witted member of the group who always got the other members in trouble. It wasn’t until he was older that he learned to appreciate Mr. Tork’s musicianship and his acting.
“The Monkees are unique because they’re a television show that became a real live band. In a way, it was like the first reality show,” said Mr. Stachtiaris.