An easy day’s night with The Daytrippers of Martha’s Vineyard

Eric Johnson played "Rain" on a twin-neck guitar. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The word’s out about The Daytrippers.

The Vineyard musical group that authentically reproduces The Beatles’ work in concert motivated upwards of 500 Island residents to scamper to the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on a holiday weekend this past Saturday night, April 7.

The six-member group is composed principally of Vineyard teachers and musicians who jammed together and had a “what if…” moment a year ago. The result is a well-researched and orchestrated performance on 60s era instruments covering the mopheads’ total body of work, including some never-performed pieces. Players include: Brian Weiland, Shelagh Smilie, Doug Brush, Eric Johnson, Boaz Kirschenbaum, and Charlie Esposito. Island musicians Jeremy Berlin and Rob Myers cameo-ed at Saturday’s performance.

Around here, we do get by with a little help from our friends. The Saturday concert, as are all Daytripper gigs, was staged to raise money, this time to replace nipped budgets of the Performing Arts Center and school music departments. Prior concerts benefited Island Grown Initiative for its Island Grown Schools program and a benefit at the YMCA benefited its new Teen Center.

The group opened with several songs from The Beatles’ final Abbey Road studio “rooftop” concert and the initial notes of “Get Back” had chair dancers on their feet and a front row couple literally trotting to get back to the rear of the center where they danced unencumbered for the evening.

The power of The Beatles music and times doesn’t draw just those of, er, a certain age, but appeals to the full demographic: tykes to octos were plenteous on Saturday night.

Certainly Beatles fans from the day were there. Betty Burton and hubby John Sundman were early, and as is her wont, Ms. Burton was excited. “It’s not going to be like Chicago ’64, second row, right side, but I’m going to love this,” the Vineyard Haven Library events coordinator said.

Oak Bluffs resident Sue Madeiras attended with Trisha Bergeron. Ms. Madeiras wore a Beatles tee and sported four Beatles pins on her jacket. “Is this a vintage tee? I wish. I got it in a Beatles shop a couple of years ago, along with all the Beatles paraphernalia I could carry,” she said and laughed, adding, “I’ll know all the words.”

Being a Beatles fan can be serious business. Five-year-old Aiden Weiland, son of percussionist Brian Weiland, carefully considered the question of his favorite Beatles song. “I guess it’s ‘Strawberry Fields Forever,'” he said, but I really like the walrus song a lot too.”