There's a Storm Front coming! The story behind the flag...
It's no secret here that Kings Coast Coffee is heavily influenced and inspired by the waters that surround our shores. We are a company based on Long Island, NY with strong ties to the rich nautical history, lore and legend of our native island. Growing up here on Long Island you're surrounded and almost indoctrinated with this sense of pride for your home, we work hard just to make a living so we can enjoy all the benefits of living on this island.
"I was a Bayman like my father was before
Can't make a living as a Bayman anymore There ain't much future for a man who works the sea But there ain't no island left for Islanders like me"
A line from "Downeaster Alexa" by Billy Joel
It's a line that has lived in my head for years, the song has always hit close to home and been a rallying anthem for myself. My father was a Bayman, a local fisherman who made his living on the waters here harvesting clams in bounty and selling them to provide a living for his family. It's for this reason we named one of our signature roasts the Bayman's Blend.
That same Billy Joel song has inspired one of our espresso blends, the Downeaster Espresso and in many other of our roast names you can see the nautical connections. Shop our entire Coastal Collection here.
Now that you have a little background, let's get into the story behind the flag that now is on display at Kings Coast Coffee's cafe/tasting room in Bohemia, NY.
One of my guilty pleasures, to which I am often times razzed by our friends about, is I enjoy the thrill of finding other people's junk... or in this case, treasures. My wife and I have made a pretty uniquely decorated and charming home by thrifting, estate sales, searching facebook marketplace, antique stores, yard sales and yes, even picking things out of people's "trash."
So when scrolling through facebook marketplace looking for "something cool" I stumbled across this listing:
I'm a sucker for flags, especially old nautical flags, I'm not going to lie. When I saw this listing I said, "Kings Coast Needs to have this!" So I messaged the seller, we had a brief conversation in which I explained my interest and intention of displaying this at Kings Coast, to which he was excited about. So we meet up and got to discuss the history of this super niche piece of Billy Joel memorabilia. Turns out, Brian used to work at the Jones Beach Amphitheater during the late 90's, which is how he came across the flag. The flag is an 8 foot by 8 foot Hurricane flag, flown at Jones Beach during Billy Joel's 1990 "For Bays and Bayman" benefit concert while touring his 1989 Storm Front album.
Brian had come into possession of the flag when the stage manager retired and gifted it to him, which he has held in his home office for over 20 years now. We laughed about what the item might actually be worth, if anything at all. To most people, it's just an old tattered hurricane flag, to certain people they see the local history woven into the fabric.
Some online research about the concert is where the story begins to get even more memorable. A New York Times article about the concert can be found here. The story details the concert, originally scheduled for August 29th, 1990 but postponed due to a storm (COME ON MAN!!! HOW COOL!!!) in which Billy Joel rescheduled and did back to back shows on September 4th and 5th. Proceeds from the sold out show were donated to the East End Bayman and fishermen in an effort to support the local community.
We haven't been able to find any photos online of the flag at the venue, but we found a setlist, which we put on Spotify if you'd like to listen to. There are some listings for shirts sold at the concert, and fliers, but other then that it seems the show is all but a distant memory. So back to the flag!
When I told Brian I wanted the flag to hang in our cafe, he loved the idea. "I've been offered like $100 for it, but at this point, it's not about the money. It's something I've had for 20 years and have NO idea if it's worth anything at all" So with that, he offered it to us on "permanent loan" to proudly display on our coffee roastery here in Bohemia, NY.
Of course we had to run it up the flag pole first so we could get a couple awesome shots with it first, but the flag now hangs proudly on display in our roastery! So come on down and check it out!