The Times will occasionally feature reports from the field by readers experiencing events or classes we’ve listed. Recently arrived from New York, new Times contributor Jenny Klion visited Featherstone for its weekly Musical Monday concert. See an event listed that you’d like to try? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s MV Times’ Calendar listings inspired me to head over to Featherstone’s Musical Mondays, an early-evening outdoor picnic and concert event. Though it’s more of a spectator moment than a participatory sport, I had no problem sitting on the sidelines this time around. Yet once again, my city lights do not seem to go out….
For example, I arrived at the outdoor picnic concert — pretty much unprepared! No blanket, no chair, but yes, a pleather jacket to sit on. I wasn’t too intimidated by the picnic food however, which seemed fairly informal, as many blankets were covered with simply a variety of chips, or boxes of pizza. A few brought wine and glasses, and several savvy picnic groups even brought their own tables. One family from New Hampshire, the Diers, brought BBQ from Smoke ’n’ Bones, and Murdicks Fudge for dessert, which both looked excellent. I brought a bottle of water, and a peanut butter power bar. One thing I was pleased I’d remembered: my new insect-repellent ankle bracelet.
This week’s concert featured Dana Edelman & His Slammin’ Band, five guys — a few locals and a couple of New Yorkers — who seem to know each other inside and out. Never mind the chattin’ and chillin’ before the concert though, they came out of the gates with high energy once they hit the stage. Their sound was twangy folk, with added waves of rhythm and blues. They opened with an original love song, as Dana smoothly crooned about “ruby hair, reflecting off the sun and moon everywhere.” Soon after, they impressively rocked a Bill Withers song, “Grandma’s Hands,” which might’ve swept every grandma off her feet, with its graceful yet edgy lyrics about the power and love of a grandmother.
Dana continued leading with such original tunes as “I’ll Be Alright,” dedicated to his wife Laura; and the atmospheric “Bedouin Man,” about a recent trip to the Middle East. The band also revisited an iconic classic, “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” made famous by Otis Redding, which was a sleepy, strumming soliloquy, powered forward by the talented drummer Victor Jones. All the musicians were stellar, in fact, and the audience was loving it. Local mandolin player Charlie Giordano hopped on and off the stage throughout, adding his fierce four-string signature to a number of songs. And the kids, as they always do, ran around and around, one looking more adorable than the next.
I consulted with Amy Curtis and Emme Brown, program coordinators for Featherstone’s Musical Mondays, about the fun, family-friendly evenings. They were excited about that night’s audience — over 125 adults, and nearly 100 kids — whose attendance supports and celebrates the Island, the sun, the nature, and the musicians. “Best deal in town. Best sunset in town,” Amy said, as she pointed me toward the awesome view. Which looked exactly like what one of Dana’s songs sounded like: the Martha’s Vineyard’s sunsets, all melodic guitar solos, everything pink and glowing.
Amy and Emme were also jazzed about Featherstone’s upcoming Jazz Thursdays, same place, same time (though obviously on Thursdays), which host a different sort of audience due to the mellower sounds. Some of the musicians play both evenings during the summer, apparently, highlighting their musical range via these overlapping genres.
A couple I talked to, Tom and Mary Mandosa from Edgartown, insist they come every year. “One of our favorite things to do,” they chimed in simultaneously. I’m not surprised, considering they each had a bottle of wine, one white, one red. And though she’d brought a salad, and he a cheeseburger, she admitted to also having made a flourless chocolate cake for afterward.
Hmmm. Let’s see: chocolate cake, wine, sunsets, and fabulous music. And then later a full moon. I could maybe adapt to this …
Upcoming Musical Mondays:
July 6: Tristan Israel, Nancy Jephcote, and Paul Thurlow
July 13: Kevin Keady
July 20: Joanne Cassidy
July 25: Special Saturday Concert: Jemima James Variety Show, 2–8 pm
July 27: Mike Benjamin Band
August 3: Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish
August 10: The Grateful Dread
August 17: Entrain
Musical Mondays on Featherstone’s Outdoor Stage, 6:30 to 8 pm. Featherstone Center for the Arts, 30 Featherstone Lane, off Barnes Road, in Oak Bluffs. $10 for adults, $5 with Our Island Club card, free for children under 14. featherstoneart.org.
Jazz Thursdays, also on Featherstone’s Outdoor Stage, 6:30 to 8 pm. Every Thursday, July 9 through August 13. Prices as listed above.