Ellen O'Brien at Offshore Ale
Ellen O'Brien's singing career got a serendipitous boost from Island residents.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
On keyboard was Jeremy Berlin, who along with Tom Major, Steve Tully, and Eric Johnson provided musical accompaniment for Ms. O’Brien’s lively performance.
Ellen O'Brien's Offshore Ale performance was in part a celebration of the musical community that helped jumpstart her career as a singer. Several years ago Alan Campbell, the former Tisbury School principal, heard Ms. O'Brien singing in a NYC club and was smitten by her vocal talent. He was dumbfounded when he discovered she didn't have a CD for sale and offered on the spot to foot the bill for her to record. Ms. O'Brien came to the Island and recorded at Jim Parr's studio with session help from Rick Marotta, Jeremy Berlin, William Galison, and others. Since then, she has performed at scores of clubs around the Northeast, sung the national anthem at Shea Stadium, and earned one of three slots as a finalist in the Boston Pops Search for vocalists to perform with the orchestra on the 4th of July. Her Vineyard performance was in advance of her August 17th show at the renowned Regatta Bar at the Charles Hotel in Boston.
Ms. O'Brien was in fine form at the brew pub, singing with a proficient backup band that included pianist Jeremy Berlin and guitarist/bassist Eric Johnson. She performed selections from her debut CD “Hope Is On The Way,” which features the sultry ballad “Wait A While,” the jazz-inflected “Cruel Lullaby,” and a piercing version of the Beatles' “Blackbird.” The sizable audience reacted enthusiastically to her full-throated delivery and vivid stage presence, showering her with a level of applause that suggests the Island audiences have adopted her as one of their own.
Julian Wise is a frequent contributor to The Times, specializing in music, film, and the performing arts.