Community concerts pack the halls

By Pat Waring - November 29, 2007

"If we play, they will come" was the idea when three enthusiastic young Island musicians decided to organize a Thanksgiving weekend concert on short notice. Alex Karalekas, Willy Mason, and Brad Tucker, all home-grown singer-songwriters got on the phone a few days before the holiday and in short order lined up not one but two venues and a breathtaking array of local performers ready to play and sing.

"It just kind of fell into place," said Willy Mason this week about the back-to-back free concerts that packed the Chilmark Community Center Saturday night and the Grange in West Tisbury on Sunday.

Jemima James
Audiences welcomed much-loved artist Jemima James, who has been spending time in North Carolina. Photo by Susan Safford. Click photo for larger version.

A mostly young crowd turned out both nights, feasting on potluck suppers then cheering their favorites and filling the dance floor with exuberant energy and creativity.

Although in the minority, the "grown-ups" in the crowd were equally delighted with the music, and a delicious sense of being transported back to the 1970s Vineyard of folk music, coffee houses, and communal dinners.

"There is hope for the future," declared a glowing Kate Taylor, surveying the crowd from the stage Sunday night before she joined Brad Tucker's band Ballyhoo in several up-beat numbers.

Among the many popular local artists livening up the stages were Nina Violet, Maynard Silva, Joe Keenan, Alex Karalekas's band The Westizzians, Lila Fischer and her trio members Rachel Curtin and Sofi Thanhauser, Michael Hayden, and others.

Island audiences take heart: after last weekend's success Mr. Mason said he hopes to organize more concerts in the future.