New Island music festival makes home in Waban Park

Willy Mason is among the 10+ performers set to play at the first MV Sound Festival. — Photo courtesy of MV Sound Fest

Thanks to its popularity in summer and a robust music community overflowing with homegrown talent, Martha’s Vineyard has seen its fair share of music festivals and concerts come and go from year to year. Summer 2014 brings with it a new festival to the Oak Bluffs horizon, one that benefits the Island community both musically and otherwise and aims to be here to stay. This Saturday, June 12, the Martha’s Vineyard Sound Festival will rock Waban Park in Oak Bluffs with local vendors, artists, and a seven-hour long lineup of more than 10 local, national, and international musicians.

The brainchild of Island residents and music community staples Phil DaRosa and Ann Quigley, the festival begins this year as an event to show Island residents and visitors a good time while supporting the launch of their new nonprofit startup, The Island Collaborative. The festival/fundraiser has truly become an effort of the Island community, with help from Barbara Dupree of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, website building by Jesse Hayes of Hayes Design, social media work by Jess Phaneuf, and advertisement printing by Dennis daRosa of daRosa’s.

The Island Collaborative will be dedicated to creating projects among local entities, individuals, and businesses that will be aimed at “social equity and sustainability on the Island,” Mr. DaRosa said in an interview with The Times. “We’re hoping for a wide umbrella that reaches anything from fixing a farm tractor to managing rainwater runoff.” Mr. DaRosa and Ms. Quigley plan to use proceeds from the festival to file The Island Collaborative as a nonprofit and be up and running by late fall.

As owner of The Print Shop recording studios, member of local band Dukes County Love Affair, and former entertainment director at Dreamland, Mr. DaRosa is a natural choice for bringing Island musical talent together. In past years he has curated Chilmark Chill Billy music festivals and booked various club events, and for M.V. Sound he has worked in partnership with production company San Miguel Sound, which hosts festivals nationwide and recently included big-name headliner Lorde. With the M.V. Sound, Mr. DaRosa hopes to eventually put Martha’s Vineyard on New England’s musical map by first showcasing and introducing the “local music vibe,” he said. “The idea is to start with the best of the Vineyard by trying to bring all people available out.”

On the Island in the summer there is no lack of “people available,” and the festival’s Island roots are deeper than the stage’s posts in Waban Park. Islanders will recognize the familiar sounds of Dukes County Love Affair, whose rock tunes never fail to get the crowd moving; upbeat country blues group Good Night Louise; folk-inclined Willy Mason and Alex Karalekas; father-daughter folk duo Lexie and Arlen Roth; longtime Vineyard staples Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish; and Ben Taylor. Will Evans of Connecticut folk-rock band Barefoot Truth will be visiting for the show, as will Grammy award winning Hawaii singer John Cruz, and jazz group Dwight & Nicole. When the gates close at 10 pm, after parties will be held with Peg House at The Dive Bar; Mike Benjamin, Funkwagon, and Rich Brown and Paul Size at The Ritz; and DJ AP and Euphony at Island Bar and Grill.

The lineup is not the only thing that will keep the crowd entertained; throughout the day local vendors, artists, nonprofits, and victualers will sell their wares and provisions at stands and tents surrounding the park. Festival attendees can listen to the tunes on stage while sipping beer and wine from the beverage tent, drinks from the Chilmark Coffee Company, pizza from the Flatbread Pizza mobile oven, tempura and sushi

from the Sand Bar and Grill stand, and frozen yogurt from Tisberry. Everyone is encouraged to bring an empty water bottle for refills provided by Vineyard Bottled Water. A number of other vendors are yet to be confirmed. Artists Traeger diPietro, David Tierney, Dan VanLandingham, Darcie Lee Hanaway, and others will present their works and create live art on the scene.

Under a 3,000-person cap set by the town, Mr. DaRosa hopes that the festival and its prime spot across from the Oak Bluffs Town Beach will prompt music lovers of all ages and families to stop by the show or settle in for the day with a picnic blanket and umbrella. “If it’s hot, go to the beach, take a dip, and then come back for more music,” he said.

M.V. Sound Festival, 3–10 pm, Saturday, July 12, Waban Park, Oak Bluffs. $30 includes entry and re-entry to the festival and a discounted cover charge for the after parties; $100 all-access pass offers a spot in a lounge tent with light refreshments, view of the stage, and a meet-and-greet with the artists. The festival asks attendees to leave food, drinks, and cigarettes at home. Parking will be available at the Oak Bluffs School for $5 that will benefit the school, and a shuttle bus will run between the lot and park starting at 2:30 pm.