Events

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Tibetan Buddhist Kyabgon Phakchok Rinpoche speaks at The Yoga Barn May 20 and 21. — Randi Baird

A YouTube introduction to Tibetan Buddhist Kyabgon Phakchok Rinpoche inspires the viewer to think, “He looks so young!” at which point the realization hits, “He IS young!” Born in 1981 into an illustrious Tibetan Buddhist family, Phakchok returns for a second speaking engagement at the Yoga Barn on Tuesday, May 20, and Wednesday, May 21.

Phakchok Rinpoche (the latter name is an honorific, much as Reverend is used in western religions) enjoys dual spiritual accomplishments. The first is real-time birth in a long Tibetan leadership lineage, and the second is that more mysterious process of selection, rarely understood in the west, whereby regents of a particular branch of Buddhism divine the reincarnated status of a lama from past lives. By this method, Phakchok as an infant was identified as a lama through seven incarnations.

Training in what Buddhists call dharma studies begins at the youngest age in a monastic setting, and with the benefit of highly qualified teachers. Phakchok’s precocity took him very far very quickly, at all times impressing all who met and meditated with him. His English is excellent, his teachings cogent and accessible. At an age when most young westerners are still trying to figure out what to study, where to live, and which profession to pursue when they finally grow up, Phakchok is the abbot of several monasteries in Nepal, assists at monasteries and practice centers in Tibet, heads dharma centers in North America, and Asia, and oversees vast humanitarian projects in South Asia.

No wonder, then, that among his tens of thousands of students and devotees, a sprinkling of them have homes on Martha’s Vineyard where for the second year in a row he has been invited to lecture (as well as to provide an amusing ceremony, also for the second time, but we’ll save this explication for last).

For anyone hoping to get a sense of Phakchok Rinpoche, YouTube is a great place to start in anticipation of his coming presentation. In one of the video clips, he addresses the keys to happiness Buddhist-style, depicting how, when one feels sadness, the space of one’s mind shrinks. Problems are focused on oneself, increasing the sense of discomfort. Phakchok then describes an exercise — not precisely mediation, he explains, but more relaxed, more expansive — 5 to 10 minutes of visualizing the sky, thinking, and feeling in all four directions, up and down, until the imagination merges into infinite space. “You start to feel the spaciousness,” he assures the viewer. “Reconnecting with innate peace is possible.”

There is also a book available to read by Phakchok, “The Eight-fold Supreme Path Of Mind-Training,” available through Barnes and Noble.

In posters of the coming week’s talks found around the Island, the young Rinpoche, clad in gold and red robes, sits against a bank of vivid-hued Buddhist statues and tapestries. The Yoga Barn is located on South Road in Chilmark. The May 20 and 21 events begin at 6 pm with an introduction to Buddhist yoga, followed by Phakchok’s lectures at 7:30. Tuesday’s talk is titled Creating Space In Daily Life, and Wednesday’s is Fearless Happiness: Keys to Training The Mind.

And now to the “special ceremony” to take place on the beach at Menemsha on Wednesday, May 21, at 3 pm, when Phakchok, in a reprise of last year’s festivity, will release a hundred live lobsters back into the ocean. Although not all Buddhists are vegetarians at all times, the practice of ahimsa, meaning to do no harm, is a vital part of daily practice. Returning lobsters to the sea resonates with the veneration of all living creatures.

A random sampling of reactions to this last event from Islanders “on the street” reveal a total lack of comprehension. “But what if lobstermen put down traps and catch them a second time?” asked a lady in Oak Bluffs. A facebook friend of this reporter’s said, “Who’s going to be donating these lobsters?”

The answer to the second question is: surely no one who catches lobsters for a living. Should a harvester of the seabed be of such a mind, he or she would obviously find another way to eke out a living on these shores. One can only suggest attending Kyabgon Phakchok’s lectures and watching the lobsters’ pokey ramble back into the sea to decide which parts of the teachings make the most sense to each individual.

The lectures are free, donations welcome; lobster rolls not an option.

Free public talks with Kyabgon Phakchok Rinpoche, Tuesday, May 20 and Wednesday, May 21, 7:30 pm, The Yoga Barn, Chilmark. Prior to teachings both evenings is Intro to Tibetan Buddhist Yoga at 6 pm. Wednesday, May 21, 3 pm, Lobster Release, Menemsha Beach. Donations accepted.

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Students from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School are the latest guest curators to open an exhibit in the Spotlight Gallery at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Students from Corinne Kurtz’s Women’s Studies class have spent months studying the history of female criminal activity on the Island, and they will debut their work in the form of an exhibit entitled Women and Crime: Victims and Perpetrators, according to a press release.

Initially, the students went to the museum to research criminal records from 1790 through 1840. They spent a good amount of time cross-referencing the museum’s archives with court records from the sheriff’s office. During their research, students explored topics such as racism, sexism, and domestic abuse linking each to contemporary topics.

“This exhibit is an excellent example of multi-disciplinary education,” said Museum education director Ann DuCharme, in a press release. “As students reflected on the broader issues of the human condition in society today, they uncovered the roots of biased thinking in the past.”

This is the second collaboration between the museum and one of Ms. Kurtz’s classes. Early last year, her Sports in America class presented the history of sports on the Island in the same gallery space. “From an educator’s perspective,” Ms. Kurtz said, “this type of authentic learning experience is very special and, sadly, very rare. I had no idea that it would be such a success. The students were flexible and so willing to take it on. They were enthusiastic throughout the entire process.”

In addition to learning about the history of women and crime, students were taught about what makes a good exhibit. They learned how to write blocks of words for the exhibit walls that tell the story of their research. They also refined caption labels to make them short enough to convey the essence of their story.

Women and Crime: Victims and Perpetrators Reception, Monday, May 19, 5–7 pm, M.V. Museum, Edgartown. Free. Exhibit runs through June 1. For more information, call 508-627-4441 or visit mvmuseum.org.

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WTO founder and organizer Craig Miner admired the finish product with all of the artists' plates. — Lynn Christoffers

This past Wednesday night, 12 Island artists and one photographer collaborated on a large-scale interactive project that was the highlight of a fundraising dinner at State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury.

The event was called Creative Artists Plates and appropriately, given that the benefactor of the event was Island Grown Initiative (IGI), the artists were recruited to design facsimiles of dinner plates. During the course of the sold out cocktail party and dinner, guests assembled the magnetized plates to complete a huge photo of a table set for six.

Artists Danielle Mulcahy and Walker T. Roman, at the IGI fundraiser at State Road Restaurant this past Wednesday.
Artists Danielle Mulcahy and Walker T. Roman at the IGI fundraiser at State Road Restaurant this past Wednesday.

The artistic venture was the brainchild of Craig Miner of West Tisbury, who has been hosting similar events on Martha’s Vineyard since last summer. At the beginning of 2013 he founded an initiative called Whatever the Outcome (WTO) and, true to the name, he and his artist friends have been creating art on the spot with the help of event attendees.

The first two WTO projects each involved piecing back together a deconstructed work of art by a local artist. This past Wednesday’s fundraiser was Mr. Miner’s first foray into employing multiple artists to create one image. And it was a collaborative project on many levels: Not only did all of the artists contribute to the finished picture, but each of the 12 was assigned a partner and instructed to work as a team to create their finished plate.

Mr. Miner does not consider himself an artist, although he has created hundreds of colorful decorated magnets to promote WTO. “I’m a conceptual artist,” he said. “I draw these ideas up and find the people. I’m just a lover of art.”

For the previous events – at The Field Gallery, and as part of the Artist Ball at Dreamland last October – Mr. Miner recruited local artists Traeger diPietro and Walker Roman, respectively. For each event one of the artists created a large (approx 4′ by 12′ foot) painting on magnetic material. The works of art were then cut up into multiple pieces and reassembled systematically during the events.

Wanting to do another event as a fundraiser in the off season, Mr. Miner chose to raise money for IGI since he has a number of friends who volunteer for the organization and he believes wholeheartedly in their mission. IGI helps support and promote local agriculture and food production through a number of programs. “I was looking for something to do on Island,” said Mr. Miner. “It was almost a no brainer.”

Mary Kenworth, who owns State Road with her husband Jackson, is an IGI board member, as is Randi Baird, who lent her talents to creating the huge magnetic photo on which the artist-created dinner plates were displayed.

The $100 a person event began with a cocktail reception. Guests nibbled on delicacies such as pate, olive tapenade, and shrimp dumplings while mingling with the artists. The photo, hanging prominently in the main dining room in front of the stone fireplace, was covered in Mr. Miner’s art magnets. At 7:30 pm, diners were instructed to look inside of their gift bags to see if they had a piece of the “puzzle.” Each of the plate paintings had previously been divided into four pieces and half of the 60 guests had received magnet pieces.

After the magnets were removed to reveal the photo, guests took turns placing the magnetized pieces. When all was said and done, one piece was missing. It was later discovered during the dinner portion of the evening and a loud cheer went up from the crowd at the announcement.

All of the works depicted food in one way or another, except for a graphic work made up of random letters by Libby Ellis and Justen Ahren. “We were thinking outside the plate,” she quipped.

Other participating artists included Nathan Shepard and Dick Iacovello – a photography/painting combination; Josiah Silvia and David Tierney – colored pencil with a mirror image in pen and ink; Danielle Mulcahy and Walker T. Roman – a yin and yang fish and fowl painting; Melissa Patterson and Cecily Stibetz – a bright sculptural piece depicting a plate of colorful vegetables constructed from paper; and Angela Park Sayles and David Miller – a surreal 3D found object piece that included shells, seaweed, and other plant life, coffee grounds, egg shells, copper shavings, and a realistic looking chicken foot made from wire and paper.

Mr. Miner intentionally selected artists whose work he feels is underrepresented on the Island. “Some of these artists haven’t shown on Island. It’s kind of nice to bring them out,” he said. “Some folks are just people who do it for the love of it. Justen Ahren is a poet. I wanted to see if he could add a poetic element.”

Although most of the artists were paired randomly, Mr. Miner says that each team has formed a lasting bond. “The pairs all became friends,” he said. “Down to the last.”

The sit-down dinner was served family style to groups seated at long tables. The bounty of dishes included fried chicken with gravy, a pasta dish, mashed potatoes, salad, and loads of fresh sautéed veggies. Everything was fresh and masterfully prepared, and many of the items came from local farms.

The final outcome of WTO 3 was a happy crowd of diners, a group of artists grateful for the opportunity to stretch their creative muscles and show their work, and a nice chunk of change for IGI.

For more information about WTO, search Whatever the Outcome on Facebook.com.

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In anticipation of its upcoming exhibit Sea Change: Martha’s Vineyard in the 1960s, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum hosts a photo collection day on Saturday, March 29, to gather images from the community.

Museum curators are looking for photos taken on Martha’s Vineyard during the 1960s, according to a press release. On Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm, staff will be on hand to scan photos and gather any information on hand. Photographs will be returned immediately. If you have photos but cannot make Saturday’s event, call assistant curator Anna Carringer at 508-627-4441 ext. 114 or email acarringer@mvmuseum.org.

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From left: Annie Palches, Molly Chvatal, Stephanie Burke, and Felicity Russell in "The Old Lady Shows Her Medals." — Photo by Susan Safford

Island Theatre Workshop’s 2014 One Act Play Festival kicked off this past Friday evening, with shows also Saturday and Sunday, and continues this coming Friday through Sunday at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven.

Tim Daniels and Katrina Nevin in "Mirror Mirror."
Tim Daniels and Katrina Nevin in “Mirror Mirror.”

The three plays are David Ives’ “Sure Thing,” directed by Leslie J. Stark; Bruce Kane’s “Mirror Mirror,” directed by Kevin Ryan; J.M. Barrie’s “The Old Lady Shows Her Medals,” directed by Lee Fierro. Showtimes are 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 4 pm on Sunday. Admission is $15; discount for Our Island Club card holders. For more information, see the article in last week’s MV Times, “Three comedies at One Act Play Festival” or visit itwmv.org.

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Jim Trish shows Bill Narkiewicz the money (a $1 bill) after getting skunked this past Thursday. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Sir John Suckling made it to age 40 – barely. The aristocratic English one percenter was a trend setter in his day. A warrior and rake, a gambler and womanizer of note in the early 17th century, Sir John’s accomplishments did not include, alas, backing the right horse to be king in the monarchy wars raging at that time.

A single hand is child's play for Kate Medeiros, who's been known to play five hands simultaneously.
A single hand is child’s play for Kate Medeiros, who’s been known to play five hands simultaneously.

His man, Charles I, lost, and Sir John was executed in the ensuing downsizing. But before he trotted off this mortal coil, Sir John invented cribbage, that down homey king of board games that’s been played almost since Bartholomew Gosnold landed on Martha’s Vineyard.

Cribbage is still here and its popularity has been growing every Thursday night this winter at Offshore Ale Co. in Oak Bluffs, where upwards of 20 aficionados deal the cards and hope to move small wooden pegs up and down rows of tiny holes on a small wooden board before their opponent gets there. You can join them at 8 pm for a few more weeks until the group takes a hiatus for summer. They will resume next January.

Despite the rock star status of the game’s inventor, the folks playing on Thursday night love it for the challenge that rewards strategy and anticipation and, importantly, because it is a game loaded with pleasant, important memories for them. Those memories drew a surprisingly young demographic: Plenty of 20-somethings sans iPhones.

“Oh yeah, I remember going to Montana every summer as a kid to visit my grandfather. We played cribbage all the time. That’s what we did,” Colin Evanson said on Thursday night after congratulating friend Lizzie Andrews on her first Thursday night win.

“This is awesome. When we learned this Thursday night thing was going on, we came to check it out. I didn’t realize so many people liked cribbage,” Ms. Andrews said, scanning the room.

It's tournament time, cribbage not hoops, at Offshore Ale.
It’s tournament time, cribbage not hoops, at Offshore Ale.

Probably very few of us realize the game’s appeal. But after talking to the players and learning their histories with “pegging,” “counting,” and “skunking,” the idea took shape that cribbage is a family heirloom, passed on at the kitchen table from the grownups. A rite of growing up. Like most of the players, I remember being excited to be old enough to be invited by my grandfather to sit down at the board. And I still like recalling that.

Mr. Evanson realized the importance of cribbage in his family life, and he made a cribbage board in the shape of the Island as a Mother’s Day gift for his mom. I’d have paid cash money to see the expression on her face when she opened that gift of memories memorialized.

Jake Gifford, co-proprietor of The Lazy Frog in Oak Bluffs, hosts the weekly tournament, at the invitation of Phil McAndrews, Offshore owner. It was the brainchild of pizza chef Freddie McDougall.

Maybe peanuts to you, the skunk cup collects cash for bad luck or poor play.
Maybe peanuts to you, the skunk cup collects cash for bad luck or poor play.

Mr. Gifford patrolled the five tables, bell in hand, to toll the beginning of a night of singles play, with the winner taking $20 home. Mr. Gifford was a kitchen table cribbage inductee and took the family game with him from the South Shore to The Lazy Frog where the boards are in good supply.

“Yeah, they do sell,” Mr. Gifford said, noting that the first couple of weeks of the tournament included tutorials for rusty and new players. At table one, Kate Medeiros, an engaging barista at Mocha Mott’s by day, explained the finer points of point-making to Marnie Gauley, who is taking up the game after a long hiatus. “Yep, I learned it at the kitchen table, like a lot of people,” Ms. Gauley said as Ms. Medeiros helped her count a hand that moved Ms. Gauley’s peg far ahead of her own.

Not everyone was a kitchen table novice. Bill Narkiewicz, an expert knitter and DJ at WMVY, learned it at UConn. “My roommate was an Irish guy. He taught me and we played all the time,” he said. As a testimony to the game’s inherent appeal, Mr. Narkiewicz recalled a bachelor party that began as a poker fest and ended as a cribbage tournament. “My roommate and I wanted to play cribbage, not poker, and within a half-hour the rest of the guys switched from poker to cribbage,” he recalled.

Ms. Medeiros said she learned the game “in the fifth grade at the Tisbury School. I liked it and so I taught my friends to play.” Math skills, memory, and strategy are the key ingredients to good cribbage play. Ms. Medeiros has also found a version called “chess cribbage” online. “You play five games simultaneously. I made a board for it,” she said.

And so it went. No one reached cribbage nirvana, a perfect 29 score in a hand. Jim Criss, the overall win leader this winter, got “skunked” when Mr. Narkiewicz lapped him on the board.

The players were intent, having fun playing a 400-hundred-year-old, no-tech game.

Cribbage Night, Thursdays, 8 pm, Offshore Ale Co., Oak Bluffs. For more information, call 508-693-2626.

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Sail M.V. board member Paul Schneider introduced presenter Sean McNeill during a dinner and lecture event earlier this year. — File photo by Susan Safford

With the possibility of a blizzard and high winds on Wednesday, Sail Martha’s Vineyard has postponed its dinner and lecture event with historian and author George C. Daughan at the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven.

“Unfortunately, George Daughan was not able to rearrange his schedule and hopefully we will be having him at another date. We have been able to get Paul Schneider to speak next week on his recent book, ‘Old Man River,’ about the history of the Mississippi River,” wrote Hope Callen, Sail M.V. administrator, in an email.

Catboat enthusiast Tim Fallon will speak at the last talk of the Sail M.V. series on April 16.

The dinner and lecture begins at 6 pm and costs $25. For more information, call 508-696-7644 or email sail_mv@verizon.net.

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Pictured are the three potential images the party will paint on Sunday. Attendees vote for their choice online. — Photo courtesy of Leslie Belkner

Paint Corner, a Cambridge-based company that hosts painting classes together with cocktail parties, will host a painting party this Sunday, March 23, at The Wharf in Edgartown, at 6:30 pm.

“The festivities center on a new phenomenon — a group painting class,” according to a press release. The $35 admission fee includes all materials and a two-hour “relaxed” instruction with artist Leslie Roberts Belkner, a part-time Islander. While painting, patrons are welcome to order food and drinks from The Wharf’s menu.

Pre-registration is required by visiting paintcornerartbar.com or calling 617-864-0263. Once one registers, they may vote on one of three paintings. The painting with the most votes as of Saturday, March 22, will be the one painted at Sunday’s event.

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Stepmother (played by Corinne deLangavant) consults the magic mirror (Clark Maffitt) in "Mirror, Mirror" during rehearsal. — Photo by Meg Higgins

For the next two weekends, Island Theatre Workshop (ITW) will inject a dose of humor to the tail end of the winter with its seventh annual One Act Play Festival. The three short plays included this time around are all comedies, but their styles range from relatively silly, to clever with a twist, to a wry British parody with a sweetly sentimental twist.

“The one acts are a perfect time to do something light. It’s winter,” said Kevin Ryan, who is one of the three directors – along with Leslie J. Stark and Lee Fierro – presenting work.

Mr. Ryan’s selection, the middle play of the program, is the lightest of all. It’s a short piece called “Mirror, Mirror” by Bruce Kane that spoofs the traditional fairy tale.

“He’s taken two or three very popular fairy tales and mashed them together,” Mr. Ryan said. “It’s a little over the top.”

Jesse Seward rehearsed his role as Prince Charming for the upcoming One Act Play Festival.
Jesse Seward rehearsed his role as Prince Charming for the upcoming One Act Play Festival.

The short play takes place in a contemporary setting and features a wicked stepmother (of course), a beautiful stepdaughter (naturally), and princes. The scene stealer of the show however is a talking mirror that doesn’t always cooperate. As the mirror, the very talented and versatile actor Clark Maffitt brings his deadpan comedic chops to the show.

The short play also features Brad Austin, Tim Daniels, Corinne deLangavant, Katrina Nevin, Jesse Seward, and Becky Williams.

For his directorial outing, longtime ITW actor/director Leslie J. Stark has chosen David Ives’s “Sure Thing.” The one act is part of a series of short plays that are often performed together under the title “All In the Timing.” Mr. Ives’s plays all feature quirky premises.

“Sure Thing” offers a unique take on the courting ritual. A man and woman meet in a cafe and try to make a connection. Despite some awkward moments and embarrassing missteps, they are luckily given chance after chance to get it right, thanks to an interesting dramatic device.

The play riffs on the the differences between the sexes and the challenges of approaching a stranger, whatever one’s intentions. There are some very funny lines, along with some jabs at stereotypical banter.

Mr. Stark, who has acted in and directed work for ITW for many years, will star in the short play along with Linda Comstock. The two are both members of the Peter H. Luce Play Readers group that meets weekly at the Tisbury Senior Center. Recently, the group presented four of David Ives’s short plays, including “Sure Thing” at the Vineyard Haven and Chilmark Public libraries. The reception of that program encouraged Mr. Stark to choose the first play from “All In the Timing” (and the one that has a line that gives that series its title) for the One Act Festival.

“The play reminds me a great deal of the cartoon work of our wonderful Island treasure, Jules Feiffer,” Mr. Stark said. “There’s a serious underpinning to everything that seems light or silly. It’s very wacky, very typical of David Ives, but it has a certain poignancy. I think light stuff works well when there’s some substance to it. It’s definitely light and very funny, but underneath the lightness is real angst.These are clearly two unattached, lonely people wary of making a connection.

“I like two-character plays. But they don’t usually work. There’s no dramatic tension. In this particular play, there’s dramatic tension right from the get go.”

Lee Fierro, former ITW artistic director and veteran actress and director, has selected something a little meatier for the festival. “The Old Lady Shows Her Medals” is a one act by J.M. Barrie, the Scottish author and dramatist best known today as the creator of Peter Pan. Barrie wrote many short stories and novels during his lifetime but was recognized most in his day for his plays.

The play that Ms. Fierro is directing is a comedy/drama set in London during WWI. It starts off poking fun at a group of London charwomen and their competitive natures and turns into a sentimental, at times sad, drama of a lonely old woman. The author, in classic tongue-in-cheek style, caricatures his protagonist and her circle of friends in a wry, humorous way. Enter a male character, who creates a dilemma for the hostess of an informal tea party. From there, the play takes a very different, almost dark direction, while maintaining the humor. It’s a lovely, bittersweet story that is bound to leave the audience smiling as they walk out the door.

“It combines some aspects that always appeal to me,” Ms. Fierro said. “A combination of warm humor and pathos – or heart feeling.”

The play stars Annie Palches, a longtime friend of Ms. Fierro. “She has played some leads for me, but she hasn’t acted in a while,” Ms. Fierro said. “She’s incredible. I am delighted to be reuniting with her as an actor. I like the way she works. This part is very good for her.”

Rounding out the cast are ITW president Stephanie Burke; Jesse Seward, Molly Chvatal, and Felicity Russell, who appeared recently in the “The Wizard of Oz;” plus ITW newcomer Gaston Vadasz.

Ms. Fierro notes that presenting one act plays offers more community members the chance to get involved. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for new actors of whatever age to get a little bit more experience before they tackle a full length play. It gives a number of people an opportunity to get up on stage and not have as many lines to learn. People are awfully busy these days. There much more open to being in a one act.”

And, she added, “The audience seems to really love the one acts. They really enjoy seeing that variety. I just think the entire evening is fun. You come in laughing, you go out crying.”

ITW One Act Play Festival, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Vineyard Haven, Fridays and Saturdays, March 21, 22, 28, 29, 7:30 pm; Sundays, March 23 and 30, 4 pm. $15. For more information, visit itwmv.org.

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A party at the PA Club will raise funds for Taggart Young's Maine home, which burnt down in December. — Photo Courtesy of Young Family

Island native Taggart Young lost the house in Maine, which he shared with his girlfriend, in a devastating fire this past December 14. This Friday, March 14, starting at 6 pm, Mr. Young’s family is hosting a fundraising party at the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs to help them raise money to rebuild. The party features a plethora of musicians, food, and silent and live auction for dozens of items including art, jewelry, and gift certificates. For more information, call 239-919-6138.