To The Editor:
As I sit and write this letter, I’m also getting ready to go play an outdoor, amplified concert in a beautiful Nashville, Tennessee city park. The place will be buzzing with activity, folks out for a Saturday afternoon. This particular concert series is happily sponsored by local businesses, banks, and radio stations. Area shops and restaurants will benefit. I know I’ll stop in for some barbecue and a beer at the place across the street, once the show is done.
As a matter of fact, 95 percent of the shows I’ll be playing elsewhere across this country for the next four months — in small towns and big cities alike — will be outdoor, amplified events. Outdoor music in the summer is a great tradition in the United States. And some of these concert and festival grounds are right in the middle of residential communities. How do they deal with noise levels? Reasonable starting times, and curfews. The rules are all right there, in black and white, in the promoter’s contract.
Why should the Island be different? I urge the Oak Bluffs selectmen to reconsider their ban on outdoor amplified music. The local music scene is a wonderful, vibrant part of the Vineyard lifestyle and economy. And as a former Island resident and musician, I have fond memories of playing outdoor (and yes, amplified) gigs in Oak Bluffs at the Sandbar, Featherstone gallery, and events such as Tivoli Day. These establishments and celebrations contributed greatly to my livelihood as a performer, and I appreciated it very much, as did, so I sincerely hope, the listeners. I also remember attending some fantastic shows at the Tabernacle.
Please don’t throw a blanket crackdown on outdoor music. Why not reach a compromise and institute reasonable starting and finishing times, and perhaps the use of decibel meters, so that the town can establish a true, concrete number that equals “too loud”?
As someone who hopes to live on Martha’s Vineyard again some day, I would hate to see the music disappear from summer evenings in Oak Bluffs.