On Monday, some of the biggest names in the music business will gather in Riverhead for one of the largest concert events the East End has ever seen — all in the name of lending a hand to local charities.
Nile Rodgers and Chic will be joined by guests Adam Lambert, Chromeo, Russell Peters, Mystery Skull, Prince Paul and Swedish star Avicii as Bridgehampton National Band presents a dance party to benefit All for the East End, an organization raising funds for local charities, at Martha Clara Vineyards on Sound Avenue.
The AFTEE Nile Rodgers Dance party begins at 5 p.m. with Prince Paul and will roll out an array of big names.
The AFTEE event, Rodger said, will be the “greatest dance party the East End of Long Island has ever seen. Dance music unites, dance music is happy, and the Nile Rodgers Dance Party will bring all ages to the dance floor.”
Rodgers, who founded the band Chic, brought the world hits such as "We Are Family," "Good Times," "Le Freak," "Greatest Dancer," "I'm Coming Out," and "Like a Virgin," and has produced hits for Madonna, David Bowie, Duran Duran and Diana Ross. And, he has co-written and plays his Fender“The Hitmaker” on the new Daft Punk hit “Get Lucky,” which has broken records and gone to Number One in 73 countries.
For Rodgers, a man who believes in giving back, orchestrating the AFTEE concert came naturally.
"It touched my heart," he said.
Growing up in New York City, Rodgers said community programs were vital to the existence of a little boy who faced adult challenges.
"That's what helped me to navigate through troubled waters," he said. "My mom had me at 14 and both my parents were heroin addicts."
Having grown up poor, Rodgers never forgot those experiences and vowed to dedicate him life to helping others.
"I've been involved in charitable programs my whole life," he said. "I was socialized to care about people. We were taught that if there was a little old lady, you escorted her across the street. So when I was approached to do this, I thought it through and said, 'Sure.'"
At the same time, Rodgers said he didn't want the event to be a typical one-shot fundraiser but rather, aimed to "curate it in a way where it felt scale-able," he said. "You want to try and build a model that's sustainable after the first year. There are always different growing pains but if you have a good concept, it may be something that sticks."
The goal, he said, would be to organize similar events in the coming years.
Monday's event, Rodgers said, will be a mix of "super talented" artists that will appeal to all ages.Rodgers said the "stunning" Martha Clara venue will also appeal; he has spent time visiting friends on the East End, particularly in Amagansett and Montauk.
No stranger to philanthropy, Rodgers, after 9/11, began the We Are Family Foundation, to bring different people together, to learn to live together peacefully.
Schools built in Africa and Nicaragua are just some examples of the work being done; children's words, poetry and videos are used to help bring supporters together and promote peace.
"We started out so small," Rodgers said. "Now after all these years, look at how we've grown. It's truly amazing."
Charitable efforts, Rodgers said, "just feel normal to me. It's not the thing that you do to score extra brownie points. That's just how I was raised. I don't know any other way."
Despite his busy schedule, Rodgers makes time to give back. "If it's close enough to your heart, you find a way to do it," he said. "It becomes a part of your life; it's just routine."
Looking back at his long career, Rodgers reflected on the key to his success. "The great motivator was tenacity and love of doing the job," he said. "When I was a kid, one of my most influential music teachers told me doing the work teaches you how to do the job."
Working with a sea of new artists like those on Monday's lineup, Rodgers said, is fulfilling. "It's amazing, because not only do they learn from me, I really learn a lot from them."From the age of five, Rodgers said he knew music was his destiny. "Even though they were heroin addicts, my mother and stepfather were artistic individuals; forward-thinking, progressive people. I was surrounded by culture and art and music. I was immersed in modern jazz. My family were the classic beatniks," he said.
His childhood addresses ranged from the Lower East Side, "when we were doing poorly, to Greenwich Village and the West Side, when we were doing well."
As his career propelled Rodgers into the spotlight, he was able to work both solo and collaboratively with some of the biggest names in music.
"They're equally fulfilling, for different reasons," he said. "When I'm working on my own, that obviously feels like a million dollars. That's a composer's dream, to be able to have a life where you can play your own music. However, I'm also the world's best collaborator. I love working with people."Despite his huge success, for Rodgers, "work is still the most important thing. Practicing the guitar and writing songs, collaborating, exactly as I've done since I was a little hippie kid. It just feels right to me. Hard work is my normal life, and it's always been that way."
Rodgers said he hopes crowds come to Monday night's event to relax and have a good time — for a good cause.
"The community can come together and pull something off that we can maybe develop as a model that will be replicated around the country," he said. "It's going to be a night of great music and great people. People are going to see the essence of who entertainers are — how altruistic they are, and how they can seemingly come from such disparate backgrounds and all work together in this wacky melting pot."
Guests can purchase VIP tickets to secure prime parking, preferred concert viewing, and gourmet tasting tent admission.
For more information and tickets, visit www.AFTEE.org.
The parking field opens at 4 p.m., with music starting at 5 p.m. and star performers taking the stage at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available day of show on-line or at the Suffolk Theater.
And now, a special offer stands for customers to buy one ticket for $149 and get another free. Local East End tickets cost $50 each; no two-for-one special on local prices.