For ten blissful years, hundreds of musicians gathered at the Wintertide Coffeehouse to perform in an environment that fostered talent and the community. It was an Island institution.
Tony Lombardi opened Wintertide in 1989, hoping to embody a local concept that had thrived in Vineyard church basements since the 1970s. It was a great success. Wintertide attracted legendary musicians from all genres, including Odetta, Bob Dylan’s Band, and Martin Sexton (whose career originated there). Three live albums were nationally released at the coffeehouse, which was located on Five Corners in Vineyard Haven, and also housed the WIMP improvisational troupe. Wintertide was recognized by Billboard as one of the top performing arts centers in the nation. “It was a “reciprocal, grass-roots, community place,” Mr. Lombardi says.
The Islander, who has a rich passion for humanitarian work, volunteered at Wintertide for ten years after opening it, until his work for “Safe Haven,” an organization for HIV-infected children, caused him to step down.
Wintertide closed down soon thereafter, but was survived by fond memories and a knit society of avid followers. “Hundreds of people have requested a return to the Wintertide philosophy of performance,” says Mr. Lombardi in the event’s press release, “and Dayna Kurtz has been one of the most requested performers that folks want to see again.”
Dayna Kurtz has soothed listeners around the country with her voice, opening for the likes of Richie Havens. Ms. Kurtz will be joined in Sunday’s concert by other members of the Wintertide collective including local performers Jemima James and Dan Waters, Nina Violet and Marciana Jones, Kim Hilliard and Kevin Keady.
This year, Mr. Lombardi became director of the Alexandra Gagnon Teen Center at the YMCA. When thinking of ways to raise money for the center, he immediately thought of the Wintertide ambiance and its message. The benefit will raise money to construct a new building for teens, who are currently left with few other options.
“The Island desperately needs a place where kids can go to be safe and feel creative,” musician and concert-participant Dan Waters says. “The Teen Center is that kind of place, just like Wintertide was, and Tony is the ideal person to put it all together.”
In addition to benefiting the Teen Center, Mr. Lombardi has organized the reunion as a “test-run” of sorts, to see how interested Islanders are in bringing back Wintertide-like concerts. If they are, he says, “I will do my part.”
This special event speaks to the warmth of locals and the importance of creating venues that embody good vibes. “Nectars welcomed us with open arms, gave us a date, and have been extremely supportive,” Mr. Lombardi says. “They embody our philosophy.”
Continue this philosophy by supporting the event and participants this Sunday, September 12.
Nectars’ doors open at 7 pm for an 8 pm showtime. Tickets are $20 in advance at ticketsmv.com, $25 the day of the show. Call 508-939-1662 for more information.