Amanda Ruzza performs at Union Chapel on Friday. Photo courtesy Sheila Baptista. — Sheila Baptista

The fifth annual Martha’s Vineyard Jazz and Blues Summerfest, a two-day musical event presented by Lewis and Kirk Productions, is this Friday and Saturday, August 29 and 30.

Sage performs Saturday at the Old Whaling Church.
Sage performs Saturday at the Old Whaling Church. Photo courtesy of Sheila Baptista.

The line-up for Friday’s events, held at Union Chapel, includes Andrea and James Rohlehr and the AndJam Band, Amanda Ruzza, The Berklee Rainbow All-Stars directed by Tia Fuller, and Acute Inflections. On Saturday at the Old Whaling Church, see Sage, an all-women’s jazz and blues ensemble; and Jazzmeia Horn.

Both nights begin at 7 pm, and tickets start at $35, VIP seats start at $75. A portion of the proceeds from Summerfest will also benefit regional breast cancer networks and other local organizations that assist women who are receiving cancer treatments, according to a press release. For more information, visit; for tickets, visit or call 914-363-9299 ext. 384.

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Cotton candy, ribs, burgers and tempura go great with a little music. The fair is always a popular place to hear Island musicians. — Ralph Stewart

Before the Fair moved from the Grange Hall to its current home in 1995, live music meant fiddles, lots of fiddles — from a fiddlers’ contest to live bands featuring fiddle music. You get the idea: music fit for a county fair.

Now, however, the soundtrack to the Fair includes a little bit of everything, from blues to country to doo-wop to jazz. If you want the more traditional fiddle, folk, and bluegrass, visit the Acoustic Corner. For something a little bit different, check out these bands on the main stage.

Blue Ribbons – Best in show

Blue Ribbons have been bringing their catchy piano-driven original rock to clubs in Cambridge, Boston, and beyond for years. Classic rock with a jazzy feel. The soulful singing, smokin’ guitar, and traditional rock sound will remind you of a host of rock legends — Eric Clapton, the Band etc.

Jon Zeeman – Jazz my day

Jon Zeeman started out his career playing in New York City and Scandinavia. Since the 1990s, Zeeman has established himself as one of the most popular local musicians — playing everywhere from dive bars to private parties and fundraisers. A mix of jazz, jazz-funk, blues and rock, the band is a tight unit of consummate musicians led by master guitarist Zeeman whose influences include Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix.

The Stragglers – Country for the country fan in us all

Since the mid-1980s, The Stragglers have been bringing good old-time country music to Martha’s Vineyard. In their heyday, The Stragglers played venues around the Island such as The Hot Tin Roof and bars and parties.

Named for the fact that “people straggle in and out of the band,” according to founder Merrily Fenner, the group has changed its lineup over the years, but the music remains a tribute to the greats of country. Some sample songs include “Hey, Good Lookin’” and “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”

Serendipity – Girls just wanna have fun, 1950s style

Serendipity started out as an all girls’ band (girls of a certain age, that is) but they have since added one guy on guitar. Still, a lot of their music hearkens back to the 50s and 60s — the days of doo-wop and girl groups. Fun, feel-good music that will take you back in time. Sample songs include “One Fine Day” (the Chiffons), “Fever” (Peggy Lee), and “Shop Around” (the Miracles).

Island Country – Walk the country line

Old-time country is, not surprisingly, what you can expect from the band Island Country. Think Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard. Founder Rick O’Gorman has been playing country music for 30-plus years. “I’ve played at every bar that was ever on the Island and some that are still on the Island,” he says.

He’s gathered together a group of similar minded musicians for a band that will include Anthony Benton Gude on pedal steel guitar, and they will be recruiting surprise guests. “We love country music and we’re thrilled to play the Fair,” says Mr. O’Gorman.

Bored of Health – Alt rock meets country

You may have seen them playing clubs around Boston — places like Johnny D’s in Cambridge have been hosting Bored of Health for more than 10 years now. Anything but boring, their original pop/rock/country tunes will get you up and dancing — maybe even two-stepping. A new, countrified sound for alternative rock fans. Members include Islander Tauras Biskis on drums, along with keyboards, guitar, and standup bass.

The Roundabouts – Full circle of musical genres  

The Roundabouts have been around a little longer than their namesake — the mid-Island intersection — and they’re similarly winning Islanders over. The band, founded by husband and wife Erik and Cheryl Lowe, plays country, blues, and rock with a rockabilly sensibility and a nod to the classics. This is their third year at the Fair. They also play at bars around Oak Bluffs and will appear at the P-A Club on Saturday night. Sample songs include a range of country and blues: “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Route 66,” “Kansas City,” and, for a slight psychedelic departure, “Magic Carpet Ride”

The Ben Higgins Band – Hooks galore

The Ben Higgins Band plays all original tunes with a mix of country and progressive folk featuring catchy tunes. The three-piece unit includes piano, guitar, banjo, and resonator for a rich, full sound.

“I like to think that we create some sort of positive atmosphere,” Ben Higgins says. “The songs get stuck in your head. That’s what people say.”

Judge for yourself. This fall Vineyard native Higgins is headed for country music hub Nashville, so check out his band at the Fair while you can or catch him playing piano at the Lambert’s Cove Inn in West Tisbury every Thursday through Sunday.

Citizen Cope returns to the Island for a show a Dreamland. — Nectar's Presents

Nectar’s Presents Summer Concert Series at Dreamland in Oak Bluffs hosts its next show this Thursday, featuring Citizen Cope. A solo and acoustic performance, the show benefits Turnaround Arts, a program of President Obama’s President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities that is using arts education to help students succeed. $1 of every ticket purchased for this show goes to Lame Deer, Mont., a community on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, according to a press release.

He was born Clarence Greenwood, a child of the seventies, and his life journey is as singular as his art, according to a press release.

Dug deep into the rich soil of American music, the press release continued, Cope’s roots are complex. You may think of Bill Withers or Neil Young or John Lee Hooker or Van Morrison or Willie Nelson or Al Green. Yet, listening to Cope, you also may think of none of the above. “Rawness improbably balanced by a mixture of danger and delicacy,” wrote one Rolling Stone writer, “is what gives Citizen Cope his edge. As a singer, songwriter and producer, he stands alone — an artist immune to corruption.”

In the past nine years, the press release continued, he has produced four albums of depth and distinction, each a critical chapter in his search for a sound that paints an auditory American landscape in which despair wars with home and home, tied to love, is elusive.

Music: Citizen Cope, Thursday, August 21, 9 pm, Dreamland, Oak Bluffs. 21+. Tickets available at M.V. Chowder Company, Corner Five, The Green Room, Alley’s General Store, and at

Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish. — Joe Mikos

Island quartet Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish celebrates the release of their newest CD, The Dance, on Saturday, August 16, with a dock dance party at Memorial Wharf in Edgartown from 7 to 10 pm. The free harborside concerts “have proved to be very popular, and we’re doing it by popular demand,” said keyboardist Jeremy Berlin in a press release. Other band members include guitarist Buck Shank, drummer Chris Anzalone, and vocalist Johnny Hoy, who together form an extremely danceable rockabilly and blues group. For more information, visit

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Suz Slezak and David Wax make up David Wax Museum. — David Wax Museum

The indie-Americana-folk-rock group David Wax Museum featuring David Wax and Suz Slezak return to play Flatbread Thursday evening after a successful engagement there last summer.

David Wax incorporates instruments and musical forms from a broad range of traditional styles from North and South America, defying easy classification. Mr. Wax likes to call his blend of music “Mexo-Americana, bringing together a lot of traditional musical things that become new forms.”

At last summer’s show the band’s fusion of traditional Mexican folk with American roots and indie rock kept the crowd dancing through the night to rhythms that inspired members of the audience to break out the tango and samba dance moves.

The band incorporates a wide array of instruments, including Mexican guitars, an accordion, a Cajun drum box, and a donkey’s jawbone. The repertoire usually includes older hits, as well as singles from their newer albums. Knock Knock Get Up is their newest album, released in 2012.

David Wax immersed himself in Mexico’s rich traditional music culture, son mexicano, during trips south of the border, including a yearlong Harvard fellowship, learning from the form’s living masters.

Suz Slezak was homeschooled by her father on a small farm in rural Virginia and reared on old-time, Irish, classical, and folk music. The two met in 2007 and began blending their unique musical perspectives to form the band.

David Wax Museum has released four albums: Its first in 2008, I Turned Off Thinking About; its second, Carpenter Bird in 2009; and the critically acclaimed album Everything Is Saved in 2011, featuring the song “Born with a Broken Heart,” which was named Song of the Year at the Boston Music Awards.

The band, which is often featured on the local folk music station WUMB, won a contest for a spot at the 2010 Newport Folk Festival and was the winner in the Americana category in the 2010 Boston Music Awards.

Island musician Nina Violet is the opening act, and blues harpist Natalie Lurie will also perform. The show is produced by TPS Presents.

David Wax Museum, Thursday, August 14, 9:30 pm, Flatbread Company, M.V. Airport, Edgartown. 21+. $25; $18 in advance at For more information, visit

Lauryn Hill headlined the M.V. Summer Madness concert at Featherstone Sunday evening. — Michael Cummo

As the super moon shone through the canopy of trees on Sunday evening at Featherstone Center for the Arts, Grammy award winning artist Lauryn Hill and a number of other acts took the outdoor stage as part of the M.V. Summer Madness Music Festival.

She performed on an outdoor stage to an intimate but energized crowd.
She performed on an outdoor stage to an intimate but energized crowd.

The concert led off with Martha’s Vineyard’s own Evan Hall and his group The Insights, featuring fellow Berklee College students. Two-time Grammy Award winner Melanie Fiona followed with hits like “Give It to Me Right,” “It Kills Me,” “Fool for You,” and “4 am.” DJ Rampage Global then brought the audience to their feet, setting the stage for Ms. Hill.

Ms. Hill’s melodic voice and rapturous rhythms boomed throughout Oak Bluffs, with songs like “Ready or Not,” “To Zion,” “Ex-Factor,” “Killing Me Softly,” “Mr. Intentional,” “Lost Ones” and “Oh Jerusalem.” After an hour, a noise ordinance cut Ms. Hill short, according to a press release, but she spent an additional hour mingling with fans and providing photo opportunities.

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Filmmaker Victoria Campbell screens her latest film at the M.V. Film Center on Tuesday.

A must-see movie, “Monsieur Le President,” will be screened at the M.V. Film Center in Vineyard Haven at 7:30 pm on August 12.

In January 2010, immediately following the 7-point earthquake in Haiti, Tisbury native Victoria Campbell, an actress and documentary filmmaker, received a phone call from her dad. He told her to fly down to the devastated island, that arriving health workers from around the world required French-speakers to translate their patients’ needs.

When she was 16, Victoria spent a full year with a French family in a small village outside of Avignon, and she was under strict orders not to speak a word of English.

The filmmaker crossed into Haiti from the Dominican Republic. She wore a nun’s habit because authorities, crazed by throngs of foreigners at the border, turned back nearly everyone. The faux nun found a hospital in Port-au-Prince where she was immediately put to work cleaning wounds and inserting catheters.

In the beginning, Victoria had no thought of making a movie, but a camera constantly rolled “tape” in her hands, a compulsive trait of hers ever since she filmed her 2009 documentary “House of Bones,” about the messy emotions stirred up by the sale of her family’s grand old summer house in West Chop.

Victoria’s thoughtful monologue runs through “Monsieur” and, frankly, she had this reporter at, well, not exactly “hello,” but only minutes into the narrative with a stunning description of the moment when aid workers were finally admitted into the country, and the lens of clarity refocuses. Against footage of downed buildings, human suffering on an epic scale, and a child with a bandaged arm being lifted into an ambulance, Victoria speaks of before and after, of the contrast with “that time when everyone cracked wide open in those first four days when black and white, foreigner and Haitian, doctor and patient were all melded together before time closes like a fist, and we’re again reminded of where we stand on the chain of life.”

And then she meets Gaston, a voodoo priest and community organizer seared with a febrile urge to restore his parish. Like magic, he throws up a medical clinic staffed with a doctor and two nurses and, from that point forward, thousands of patients receive free medical care and prescriptions. His larger aim is to build a school, and no one enters his sphere without Gaston — smiling, charming, gallant — putting each to work moving rubble, then recycling that same rubble. Nothing is ever wasted in Haiti.

Victoria returns many times to Haiti to film Gaston, committed to the man’s vision. She holds fundraisers on the Island and in New York where another admirer of Gaston’s, an Italian reporter working in the States, solicits donations from abroad.

And then everything takes a turn to the sinister.

For more information, visit

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Lauryn Hill performs Sunday at Featherstone. — Karl Ferguson Jr.

Some of the “first ladies” of the music world will heat up the apex of the Vineyard season this weekend when the second annual Martha’s Vineyard Summer Madness festival rolls out its Ladies First lineup.

Headliner Lauryn Hill, five-time Grammy award winner and former member of The Fugees, will perform an outdoor concert at Featherstone on Sunday, topping off an exciting weekend packed with concerts, parties, artist showcases, and an educational panel, all starring female music makers and movers and shakers.

The three-day festival kicks off with a live jazz reception followed by a mixed performance  show at Dreamland featuring a performance by hip hop legend MC Lyte along with entertainment by an acclaimed spoken word performer and music from one of NYC’s top DJs. Throughout the weekend, artists — both emerging and established — will perform a range of music from jazz to soul to R&B to hip-hop. The majority of events take place at Flatbread Company at the M.V. Airport.

The festival is the brainchild of summer resident Sean Porter, a concert promoter, TV producer, and former nightclub owner whose Brooklyn-based club hosted parties for some of the biggest names in hip hop and R&B including P Diddy, LL Cool J, Kanye West, Ice T, and Lil’ Kim. Last year, Mr. Porter recruited Norman Hall, financial expert and entrepreneur who is a year-round Islander, to the festival team. The two men, longtime friends, are joined by a team of part-time Vineyarders and others in organizing and producing the M.V. Summer Madness Festival.

Last year’s inaugural event featured a performance by headliner Big Daddy Kane, who played to a sold-out audience at Dreamland. This year, the organizers decided to honor women in music, taking the theme’s name “Ladies First” from a groundbreaking hip hop song recorded by Queen Latifah in 1989.

Among the events this year will be a chicken and waffles brunch featuring jazz artist and TV and movie actress Suzzanne Douglas, an R&B showcase with Grammy nominee Amel Larrieux, a new artist showcase, and a beach BBQ bash to take place between Inkwell Beach and Waban Park.

Private VIP parties follow the Friday and Saturday evening performances.

Billed as a music festival and conference, the M.V. Summer Madness schedule also features a panel discussion with some of the heavyweights (all women) in the music industry including entertainment managers, attorneys, executives, and performer/entrepreneurs.

A variety of festival packages are available. Individual tickets can also be purchased for any of the events.

For more information, and a full event schedule, visit

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Elwood (left, played by Kieron Lafferty) and Jake (Wayne Catania) perform a benefit for the Martha's Vineyard Playhouse on Tuesday. — Michael Eudenbach

A contemporary incarnation of the Saturday Night Live musical duo that closed out the 70s with the hit motion picture “The Blues Brothers” is coming to the Vineyard for a benefit performance at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown on August 12.

Presented by original Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd and Judith Belushi Pisano, the wife of the late John Belushi, the other original Blues Brother, and sponsored by the Harbor View Hotel, the evening’s proceeds will support the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse.

The Official Blues Brothers Revue showcases Wayne Catania as Jake, and Kieron Lafferty as Elwood, Toronto entertainers handpicked by Mr. Aykroyd and Ms. Pisano for their musicality, stage charisma, and devotion to the phenomenon that is the Blues Brothers. Having a Canadian accent is especially helpful for Mr. Lafferty, as it provides an essential ingredient to the signature phonetics of Elwood’s voice.

“Dan told me that Elwood was a combination of influences,” said Mr. Lafferty, “one of them being ‘King Biscuit Boy’ a.k.a. Richard Newell, a Canadian blues legend who talked in a chopped up manner — he added the Chicago accent to that cadence.”

Though he and Mr. Catania will dish out plenty of blues music, Mr. Lafferty says that he doesn’t believe the enthusiasm of the audience will be solely for the Blues Brothers themselves because he believes that Islanders are lovers of blues in general, well versed on the subject, and hungry to hear it. In fact, it’s the Island, he admits, that keeps him informed about the blues.

“To be honest I’ve been getting my musical updates from MVYradio, which I listen to often; the ‘Blues at 8’ is really good and informative. I think the Vineyarders have a pretty sophisticated musical palate. If I could suggest anything new [in blues music], it would be a young Australian artist named Owen Campbell who’s got some good grooves and a very cool retro style.”

Unlike Messrs. Aykroyd and Belushi, who often became so soaked in perspiration during their shows that they’d need to switch out their shirts and suits whenever they could slip backstage, Messrs Catania and Lafferty don’t have that luxury.

“No time for costume changes, I’m afraid, but we do keep a bottle of ‘Old Spice’ handy in case we have to meet people after the show,” said Mr. Lafferty, who, like his entertainment partner, must also contend with fog-ups of another key component to the Blues Brothers look, the famous sunglasses.

“Yes, that can be a problem,” said Mr. Lafferty. “We’ve tried a number of industrial and household products, petroleum products, even camel spit, and nothing seems to work. So we have a second pair off stage that we keep at 1.5 degrees C above normal body temperature.”

Benefit: The Official Blues Brothers Revue, Tuesday, August 12, 8 pm, Old Whaling Church, Edgartown. $45; $40 with Our Island Club card; $100 VIP party. For tickets to the Official Blues Brothers Revue, visit or call 508-696-6300.

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From left: Cindy Kallet, Ellen Epstein, and Michael Cicone, scheduled to perform at the Fern and Feather concert on August 3. — Alison Shaw Photography

Headlined by songwriter, singer, and guitarist Cindy Kallet, four accomplished folk musicians will perform together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fern and Feather Day Camp at Felix Neck, a Massachusetts Audubon Society wildlife sanctuary in Edgartown.

The show, at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury this Sunday, August 3, will raise money to support an Island family scholarship program for Fern and Feather, a natural history day camp. Ms. Kallet is a former volunteer and employee of Felix Neck.

As a songwriter, teacher, singer, and guitarist with five solo albums to her credit, Ms. Kallet has performed extensively throughout North America in coffeehouses, concert halls, house concerts, and music camps. She has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and WFMT’s Folkstage.

Her first album, Working on Wings to Fly, was voted one of the “Top 100 Folk Albums of the Century” by WUMB Boston radio listeners, and Ms. Kallet’s Leave the Cake in the Mailbox – Songs for Parents and Kids Growing Up was chosen for a 2004 Parents’ Choice Gold Award.

She has recorded three trio albums, with Ellen Epstein and Michael Cicone, who will join her for the first part of the concert.

For the past nine years Ms. Kallet has joined musical forces with Grey Larsen, who will join her for the second part of the show. They have recorded two albums together and many of the songs they perform were composed by the duo.

Mr. Larsen is noted for his fluency on the Irish Flute and tin whistle. He is also highly accomplished on the concertina, harmonium, and fiddle and is the author of books on Irish music and has more than a dozen CDs to his credit. Since 1989, he has been the music editor of Sing Out! Magazine and has devoted himself to the traditional fiddle music of his native Midwest and Appalachia since the 1970s.

Ms. Kallet has had a long relationship with Felix Neck and is proud of what she learned from former director Gus Ben David. “I started volunteering at Felix Neck as a teenager in the early 1970s,” Ms. Kallet told The Times, “and fell completely in love with that piece of the Island, and with what the Sanctuary meant to the preservation of land and habitat on the Vineyard. I learned so much from Mr. Ben David, who is and was one of the great teachers of this world.”

Ms. Kallet eventually joined the staff as a teacher/naturalist, trail clearer, window washer, floor sweeper, and as a counselor at Fern and Feather before moving to Maine, where she lived for 18 years.

Ms. Kallet and Mr. Larsen now live and work out of Bloomington, Ind.

Folk Singer Cindy Kallet and friends, Sunday, August 3, 7:30 pm, Grange Hall, West Tisbury. $25 in advance; $20 for Mass Audubon members; $30 at the door. For more information, visit or call Felix Neck at 508-627-4850.