Best Fest is a musical farewell to summer
File photo by Angelina Godbout
What better way to celebrate the end of the summer than a parade? The Best Fest – a blowout festival of music, for the fourth year in a row, brings the 20-piece Extraordinary Rendition Band (ERB) from Providence to add a good dose of flair and fun to the celebration. On Saturday night, the brass, reed, and percussion marching band – a rag-tag outfit whose members dress in a variety of red costumes and favor freestyle over rigid formation – will march up Circuit Avenue to kick off a big night of music at The Lampost and The Dive Bar.
The band's statement on their website reads, "We interrupt your regularly-scheduled life with spontaneous moments of raucous musical joy and celebrate our community through bringing music to the streets. The ERB values silliness, gratuitous antics and pure fun for its own sake as much as (if not more than) musical skill." This philosophy fits in perfectly with the mission of the Best Fest founder and producer Rob Myers.
"It's always intentionally held on the first Saturday after Labor Day weekend," he said, "as a big collective sigh of relief celebration of the end of the summer."
Although the previous Best Fest events included outdoor daytime activities, this year the festival is limited to the evening to avoid a conflict with the memorial service for well known Islander Bob Lee. "We're going to defer to that out of respect to Bob," Mr. Myers said. "He was just such a part of the community and connected to so many people. I think it was serendipitous that we had decided to dedicate it [Best Fest] to Bob Lee and then found out the memorial was the same day. He did love the Best Fest parade. To go from the memorial with so many people sharing stories about Bob, to a really joyful celebration in the streets is a nice natural segue."
The festival is a fundraiser for WVVY – a nonprofit low power community radio station that Mr. Lee was instrumental in starting. "It's a benefit to relaunch WVVY," he continued. "It's been going through some changes and has been reorganized and more streamlined. We're using the Best Fest as a way to relaunch." Mr. Myers hosts two shows on the radio station – a music program and a sports talk show with co-host Elisha Weisner.
The post-parade party at The Lampost and The Dive Bar is a non-stop night of music. A variety of bands will play simultaneously all evening in both the underground Dive Bar and the upstairs room of The Lampost, while deejays will spin continuously in the pool room. DJ Di, who moved to Brooklyn earlier this year, will make a special return appearance.
The band lineup includes Master Exploder (instrumental surf-rock), The Taxidermists (indie-rock), Killer Motorcycle (original rock), Mike Martin y los Rootsticks (reggae), The Dock Dance Band (soul, blues, rock), Mercy Beat (punk/alternative), Good Night Louise (roots, Americana, country, blues) and the Ben Hughes Band, which is fronted by one of the horn players from the Extraordinary Rendition Band.
Previously, the celebration incorporated visual artists, artisans, and other vendors set up at local parks. Last year, participants in the daytime festivities created collaborative murals throughout the day that were later chopped up and sold at a follow up silent auction event. This year, owing to the time limitations, Mr. Myers had to scale back a bit but he encourages anyone in the local artist community to participate if they have any ideas.
Despite the cut back, he promises, "The nighttime part is going to be extra cool this year." The availability of multiple stages gives the party more of a festival atmosphere. A couple of the bands – Random Thought and Killer Motorcycle – are new to the local scene and Mr. Myers is very excited to be able to include the popular DJ Di, who's only on Island briefly. He hopes that people will hop from space to space enjoying a widely varied mix of musical styles.
The parade makes the festival truly a community event. Not only can everyone enjoy the music and antics of the party-centric band, any and all are welcome to join in. In years past the parade has included giant puppets, rollerbladers, and entertainers. Mr. Myers encourages people to dress up and celebrate the commencement of what is a favorite time of year for many locals.
"It's a 'thank God it's September' thing," he said. "A celebration that we've made it to September and the weather is still beautiful and we're reminded of how lucky we are to live here where there's great music and great culture."
Fourth annual Best Fest Music Festival, 8 pm, Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs. Parade at 8 pm; music continues at The Lampost and The Dive Bar until 1 am. All proceeds benefits 93.7 PM WVVY Community Radio. For more information, search The 4th Annual Best Fest Music Festival on Facebook.