The big August weekend on the Vineyard is defined by the three blow-out, end of summer events, but it’s also traditionally been a great time to enjoy live music. This year is no exception, with Nectar’s hosting a trio of bands known for the energy of their live shows. And, if you’re looking for something a little mellower, but still a celebratory good time, Nancy’s Restaurant on the Oak Bluffs harbor will be hosting a jazz sextet that has become the restaurant’s regular Friday night band since the beginning of the month.
The musical fireworks at Nectar’s ignite with the reggae stylings of the Easy Star All Stars on Friday, sparkle and crackle with the rock and rootsy Ryan Montbleau Band on Saturday, and for an explosive grand finale, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will present their powerhouse blend of gritty blues and old school rock and roll for two shows on Sunday and Monday.
Easy Star All Stars
The Easy Star All Stars are a composite band made up of rotating combinations of musicians from the stable of New York City’s Easy Star Records. The band, best known for reggae reinventions of classic albums, has toured in 25 countries and recorded six albums. Their mix of reggae, classic rock, dub, and indie rock brings new life to many familiar rock tunes.
Along with their chart-making cover albums, Dub Side of the Moon, Radiodread, and Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band, the All Stars have more recently released two albums of original music. Unlike many traditional reggae bands, the ever-changing lineup of the Easy Star All Stars includes female vocalists, who, along with a horn section, make for a full rich sound produced by some of the best reggae musicians in the industry.
Friday, Aug. 19, 9 pm, Nectar’s, airport. 21+. $20; $15 in advance. nectarsmv.com.
Ryan Montbleau Band
The Ryan Montbleau Band has gained a significant following on the Island — having appeared here for the past three summers — and a huge following around Boston and elsewhere. The five-member group plays a mix of neo-folk, soul, and Americana with a big sound and danceable grooves.
Since 2006, the band has released four albums, the most recent, last year’s Heavy on the Vine was produced by folk legend Martin Sexton. Although the band tours almost non-stop, founder Ryan Montbleau calls the Vineyard his summer home. He moved here part-time after his girlfriend, Jess Phaneuf, came to the Island to work as a DJ for mvy radio. The band has become mvy favorites, receiving a lot of airplay. For the past few months, the Ryan Montbleau Band has been performing as Sexton’s backup band on a nationwide tour that has included a run of shows opening stadium gigs for the Dave Matthews Band.
Saturday, Aug. 20, 9 pm, Nectar’s, airport. 21+. $20; $15 in advance. nectarsmv.com.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Another band on the verge of breaking through into the big time, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, will headline back-to-back shows on Sunday and Monday. The band, originally from Vermont, has expanded from a duo to include a second female vocalist and two guitarists for a powerful, crushing sound spotlighting Ms. Potter’s gutsy vocals. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are also returning to the Vineyard after playing capacity shows here for a number of years.
Sunday & Monday, Aug. 21 & 22, Nectar’s, airport. 21+. $35; $30 in advance. nectarsmv.com.
M.V. Jazz Quintet
If you want to cool down after the excitement of the Oak Bluffs fireworks on Friday, you can stop at Nancy’s on the harbor to enjoy some smooth jazz delivered by a brand new six-man combo called (oddly) the Martha’s Vineyard Jazz Quintet. Looks may be deceiving, as half of this combo’s members are teens. But the three young members of the rhythm section — 18-year-olds Evan Hall on bass guitar, Josh Stallings on drums, and 17-year-old Zion Morris on guitar, can more than hold their own with the horn section made up of seasoned musicians.
The older members — Mark Campos on trombone, Steve Tully on baritone sax, and Brian King Nelson on C melody sax — make up half of another established group: the Brian King Nelson Sextet, who most recently opened for Dumstaphunk last Saturday at Nectar’s. The sextet has been playing together for about 10 years. Mr. Nelson, who has known the teens since they were kids, recruited the aspiring musicians to form the misnomered Quintet. Two of the three teens, Mr. Hall and Mr. Stallings, are headed to the Berklee College of Music this fall. Mr. Morris is still in high school. As a trio, these three have their own band called Ramblin’ Tides. Mr. Nelson says that the teens have basically focused on playing blues, funk, reggae, and R&B, and this month’s gigs at Nancy’s have given them a chance to hone their skills as jazz musicians. On Friday the kids showed off their considerable talents, playing some of their own compositions in between sets. The Quintet, whose repertoire is made up of jazz standards, is scheduled to play this Friday and possibly next Friday before the younger members have to head off to school.
Friday, Aug. 19, Nancy’s Restaurant, Oak Bluffs. nancysrestaurant.com.
Gwyn McAllister, of Oak Bluffs, is a frequent contributor to The Times.