Here at The Times, we tried to give our local talent extra love in the year 2017. After all, music is one of the main threads that connects the Martha’s Vineyard community. What would we be without live music on Saturdays at the Ritz? Or summer weekends without the Port Hunter or Lola’s to entertain us endlessly? For such a small Island, we’ve got quite the sound.
The Island attracts acts from all over the country. Brooklyn-based duo Dwight & Nicole brought their R & B sound to the Katharine Cornell Theater back in June. The touring singer-songwriters took time out of their busy lives to give Vineyard readers an inside look at how they found their groove.
The Martha’s Vineyard Concert Series always delivers a stacked summer lineup. This year, the season kicked off with singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, who talked about her early days living and touring in Boston, and how she feels when she hears the song “Voices Carry” ‘on the radio. The Concert Series brought Graham Nash to the Old Whaling Church in June, and the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band in July. Nash reflected on his life as an iconic songwriter, and the Preservation Hall Jazz band talked about their new album, and what it’s like to be from a city where music and cultures from around the world converge.
Artist Q&A’s are a window into the soul of the sound.
Livingston Taylor’s annual performance at the Old Whaling Church always draws a door-busting audience. He values tradition, and is a committed Vineyard performer. In July, he talked to The Times about his appreciation for the Island, and his connection to the crowd, revealing his attitude of gratitude.
Speaking of Taylors, Kate Taylor also brought her charm up-Island to the Aquinnah Town Hall for two August performances. She talked to The Times about 1970s Martha’s Vineyard, coming home, and what’s next.
We made a point of highlighting the native Islanders like Nanauwe Vanderhoop and Siren Mayhew. Nanauwe Vanderhoop, who was our youngest featured musician at 17 years old, performed summer shows at the Ritz and Lampost, and talked about her growth as a musician over the years. Siren Mayhew, 25, who was also into music since before she can remember, talked about where she finds her songwriting inspiration, and her first all-original album.
Kevin Medeiros, 34, another familiar face in town, probably starts and ends most days of your week. In the morning, he’s making coffee at Mott’s, and by night, he’s closing down the Ritz with just about any band who happens to be there. As The Times reported in early June, he’s probably the Island’s most versatile young drummer.
Bassist and mandolin player Josh Campbell is another recognizable member of the Island art scene. He’s a busy artist by day, and plays with the likes of Auntie Em, Good Night Louise, Jemima James, and Willy Mason by night. He exhibits the personality of a true entertainer, as The Times reported.
Artist Annie Cook took a break from painting, and felt a pull toward another passion — music. Her band, the Devolvers, with Slim Bob Berosh, Alain Lucas, Ivan Bozanic, and Greg Ruszah, has a sound she described as upbeat trip-hop and rock. The band made their summer rounds at the P.A. Club and the Ritz, alongside Andy Herr’s band Electric Pie.
The year 2017 also brought the the Ululators back together. The nationally recognized band, who have opened for groups like Phish and the Whalers, played together on Martha’s Vineyard for the first time in 25 years. They performed at Union Chapel in July, in celebration of Stephen Hart’s first solo album.
Who can forget Wednesday nights with Rick and Jerry Marotta at Lola’s? The Marotta Brothers were perhaps the best weekly band to hit my music radar in the year 2017. The brothers were joined by Jon Zeeman, Zoe Zeeman, Joanne Cassidy, and Wes Nagy, and the dance floor was always packed until closing time. A couple of months later, The Times talked to charismatic keyboardist Wes Nagy, learning about what he calls his bizarrely strange and blessed life.
The Space Invaders played all over in 2017. Members Barbara Puciul and Lorna Ashe reflected on how they met, grew together, and formed their current rock ’n’ roll band. Guitarist Slim Bob Berosh, bass player Anthony Esposito, and drummer Rob Myers also make up the Space Invaders. And if you ask me, this article pulled out our quote of the year: “As Vineyard women, we often play with dirt under our nails,” Lorna said.
Which brings me to Ladyfest. Everybody knows the Ritz is the year-round hub for music. Bartender, singer, and guitarist Rose Guerin teamed up with Ritz manager Kellie Fairtag to highlight the Island’s women through a night of music. Headliners Sabrina & the Groovers, the Space Invaders, Auntie Em and the Bedspins, Rose, and Nina Violet took the stage, and brought together the entire community. Funds from the October event benefited Martha’s Vineyard Community Service Connect to End Violence, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The year was another one for the books. Here’s to 2018 — bound to keep the Rock movin’ and groovin’.