Good sounds underground at Mocha Mott’s

Jemima James, center, plays guitar and sings during a concert at Mocha Motts in Oak Bluffs on Tuesday night. — Photo by Michael Cummo

“Easy come, easy go…” sang the crowd along to the soft tune of Jemima James’s sultry voice at Mocha Mott’s Coffee Shop Sessions on Tuesday, June 10. The melody slipped out as easily as the steam rising from the pot of coffee brewing behind the counter.

The evening was part of weekly collaboration of musicians arranged by Kevin Medeiros of Smokin’ Rooster Productions, and hosted by Mocha Mott’s in Oak Bluffs. The free event was part of a series of music nights that will be held every Tuesday throughout the summer. Acts are mostly local artists offering various styles of acoustic music, though Kevin noted that the set lists are “pretty much whatever anyone wants to play.”

Jemima’s set in particular was characterized by mellow acoustic guitars accompanied by a harmonica and a twangy mandolin. The band’s laid-back style was evident as they encouraged the spectators to clap and sing along and at points paused and restarted songs to ensure everyone was playing in the same key. The intimate space paired with the easy listening melodies created a warm and inviting atmosphere for attendees.

“Jemima is the Mother Hen of Island musicians,” explained Kevin, a musician himself. “She brings her musician friends close to her and gathers them. It’s a family thing for her. It’s like they are sitting in their own room when they play up there.”

Vincent Padalino hummed along as he pointed out, “These are some of my favorite folks here on the Island. I like to clap along. The Island definitely needs more small venues like this. It’s good to see music where you’re not out at a bar where it’s all dark and noisy.”

Kevin agreed. “The Island lacks places to play like this,” he said.

Necessity being the mother of invention, the Coffee Shop Sessions were born in May of this year and their popularity has been steadily growing as attendees raved about the quality of music and low-key ambiance.

As the mandolin player walked out the door in the middle of a song to smoke a cigarette, Vincent laughed and explained, “That’s Island style for you. That’s kind of how we do it here.”

Mocha Mott’s stays open late on Tuesday nights to host the event. Doors open at 7:30 pm and the popular Island coffee shop offers basic coffee and espresso drinks in addition to a large selection of baked goods during the performances, which typically last about an hour. The event is free, but donations are encouraged.

This Tuesday, June 17, see Alex Karalekas and Kyle Higley. Visit Mocha Mott’s Facebook page for future shows.

Mocha Mott’s & Smokin’ Rooster Productions Coffee Shop Sessions, Tuesdays, 7:30–8:30 pm, Mocha Mott’s, Oak Bluffs. Weekly music night features different musicians each week. For more information, visit