The Vineyard Haven Band, which kicked off its season last weekend in Ocean Park, will be performing on the Island every Sunday night at 8 pm. The performances will alternate each weekend between Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs and Owen Park in Vineyard Haven, with special performances on the Fourth of July and Illumination Night.
The group first began performing with eighteen members at the Ag Fair in 1868. Now, as one of the oldest town bands in the state, and the oldest organization of public music on Martha’s Vineyard, the band consists of children, adults, Islanders, and visitors — virtually anyone who can play an instrument.
A schedule of events is as follows:
June 29, 8 pm, Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs
July 4, 7:30 pm, Old Whaling Church, Edgartown
July 6, 8 pm, Owen Park, Vineyard Haven
July 13, 8 pm, Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs
July 20, Owen Park, Vineyard Haven
July 27, 8 pm, Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs
August 3, Owen Park, Vineyard Haven
August 10, 8 pm, Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs
August 17, Owen Park, Vineyard Haven
August 20, 8 pm, The Tabernacle, Oak Bluffs (Illumination Night show)
Rosanne Cash and her husband, John Leventhal, a duet in every sense of the word, treated a sold-out Martha’s Vineyard audience to a display of their rich musical and songwriting talents at Flatbread Company on Tuesday night, and in the process raised a heap of money for the effort to save the Gay Head lighthouse. For those who paid $200 and more for a ticket, donating money never sounded so good.
Aside from her well-known country music lineage as the eldest daughter of the legendary late Johnny Cash, for some time now Rosanne Cash has added considerable accomplishments to her personal and professional resumé. Singer, songwriter, author, and mother of four daughters and one son, she is a star in her own right, and on Tuesday night she shared her insights on life with the audience through her music.
Many of the songs were drawn from her latest album, “The River & the Thread,” her first album in four years, which her husband produced and arranged.
“Cash comes full circle as a storyteller and singer of exceptional grace and grit,” James Reed of the Boston Globe wrote in a review. “It’s among her finest work in a 35-year career, assured and at ease, and one of 2014’s first great albums.”
Each song is built on a story drawn from shared experiences of Ms. Cash and Mr. Leventhal during a series of road trips through the south and a reconnection with the southern culture that defined her childhood. In brief introductions, Ms. Cash described the foundation of each song. For example, “Etta’s Tune,” a sweet ballad, tells the story of Etta and Marshall Grant, her father’s longtime bassplayer. The couple remained married for 65 years, a record in the industry of touring bands, Ms. Cash said. Every morning when they woke, she said, they asked each other, “What’s the temperature, darlin’?’’
Ms. Cash’s songs provide a narrative of her not always easy life. Her interaction with Mr. Leventhal, alone on the stage with their guitars, provided a sense of intimacy and a display of Mr. Leventhal’s musicianship, which might not have come across so easily in a larger venue.
The evening began with an auction of five items, that included a trip to a resort in the southwest and a week in a Paris flat, that raised a total of $27,000. Actor and Chilmark resident Tony Shalhoub brought his deadpan skills to the job of auctioneer with able assistance from straight man builder Lenny Butler of Aquinnah, who heads the Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee.
“It is not an easy thing to move a lighthouse, and it isn’t cheap,” Mr. Butler said, noting that after the night the committee expected to be half way to its goal of $3 million to save the iconic beacon.
In a conversation with The Times following a sound check Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Cash, who was greatly looking forward to a nap after a long drive from Truro where she had performed the night before, spoke about her connection to the New England and the ocean.
Ms. Cash said the Vineyard connection stems from the long friendship between her husband and master guitar restorer Flip Scipio, husband of Mitzi Pratt, one of the organizers of the effort to save the lighthouse that is now within 46 feet of the cliff edge. Ms. Cash and Ms. Pratt got to know each other last year when Ms. Cash asked Ms. Pratt, a custom book binder, to bind a book as a special gift for her husband.
“Mitzi just asked us, she was involved with this, with saving the lighthouse and asked us to do it and I thought, what could be bad about this? Saving a lighthouse, coming to the Vineyard in July, seeing friends. So we’re here.”
Ms. Cash has roots in the area. “My first Cash ancestors went to Salem, and then a group of them went to Nantucket. And William Cash was a whaling captain in the early 19th century. In fact, the jawbone of the whale that hangs in the town museum was brought by William Cash.”
Ms. Cash, who now makes her home in New York City, has written about the sense of loss she felt when she moved from Malibu to Nashville and was not near the ocean.
“The ocean is like religion to me, I don’t feel myself unless I get a regular trip to the ocean.”
Asked what she misses about the south, Ms. Cash said, “The food. Really good cornbread. And sweet tea, but I don’t have to miss the south, I go down often enough.”
Being a mother, she said, helps feed her songwriting. “Getting your heart opened, getting your heart broken, you wrangle with all your deep issues, so all of that goes into songwriting somewhere or other.”
Writing songs or prose all require discipline, she said. She said she has no preference but that songwriting is her first love. “I do love the prescribed nature of songwriting that your lyrics are married to a melody and you’ve got to do it in four minutes. I like those limitations.”
She and her husband have been performing together for about 20 years. “We enjoy it,” she said. “We do this duo show quite a lot. It is intimate — we play off each other.”
On Tuesday night, the audience got to listen in.
The Save the Gay Head Lighthouse committee is committed to raising $3 million to complete the project before next spring. For more information, visit gayheadlight.org.
Jemima James and her friends filled the late June air with familiar tunes at Featherstone Center for the Arts this past Monday for her annual Variety Show. The sun lingered low over the stage as a multi-generational crowd settled on the lawn for an evening of warm entertainment by the Island’s musician community at the second Musical Monday of the summer.
After a warm welcome by Ms. James, Geordie Gude opened the show with a buoyant harmonica melody. When Ms. James returned to the stage, this time with a guitar in hand, she beckoned longtime friend D’arcy Dursham and Josh Campbell to accompany her with vocals and mandolin. Father-daughter duo Lexie and Arlen Roth followed with an acoustic song set before making room for Sofi Thanhauser bearing her guitar and expressive lyrics.
Children left their parents’ picnic blankets for games and dancing while the charismatic outlaw jug band Brother’s Rye from Woods Hole picked up the pace. Lead singer Benjamin Lee Paterson thanked the Island for “being such a supportive place for us to play our music,” and was met with a response of friendly cheers from the crowd.
As has been proven in seasons past, a solo performer is never alone for long on the stage of a Jemima James Variety Show, and no musician is restricted to his or her own band. During the second half of the show, Lexie Roth and Lilah Larsen soothed the audience with their harmonies, Ms. James, Ms. Larsen, and Mr. Gude performed side by side, and Kate Taylor was joined by her friends and family, including her daughter Liz Witham and granddaughter Fiona, to take the audience back in time. Marciana Jones and her band, Nina Violet, and Willy Mason played as the sky turned a few shades darker, and members of Good Night Louise elicited some barefoot dancing in the grass. Ms. James commended Featherstone and reminded the audience to “treat it well” by cleaning up trash before she and Mr. Mason, her son, led their whole musical family through a high-spirited finale.
Featherstone hosts the annual Musical Mondays series throughout the summer. This Monday, July 7, stop by the lawn with dinner, drinks, and a blanket or chair to watch performances by Nancy Jephcote, Tristan Israel, and Paul Thurlow at 6:30 pm. The admission price of $10 (free for children under 14) includes bug spray and a spot on the hill facing the outdoor stage. For more information, visit featherstoneart.org.
In a joint effort with Dreamland in Oak Bluffs, Nectar’s summer concert series is back with the first show of the season by up-and-coming Jamaican reggae revival artist Chronixx and his band, Zincfence Redemption. The doors of Dreamland will open to the 21+ crowd for the show this Thursday, July 3, at 9 pm.
Jamar “Chronixx” McNaughton’s performances feature a smooth voice and stimulating lyrics over Diplo’s Major Lazer-backed mixtapes. The young artist found his musical footing during studio visits with his father, reggae musician Chronicle, where Burro Banton and Gregory Isaacs, among others, became his peers. He wandered the Jamaican music scene performing gospel harmonies in high school for artists Jermaine Edwards and Lutan Fyah and creating rhythms for Icebox and Maverick Records. Now 21 years old, he beckons “Rasta youths” in his lyrics and synth-heavy beats that hint at the coming of a reggae revolution.
City One Sound and DJ Kalif will entertain the crowd before and after the show. Tickets are $22 in advance and $27 at the door. Visit nectarspresents.com for more information.
Singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash is set to take the stage at Flatbread Company this Tuesday, July 1, for a benefit concert for the Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee. In addition, Vineyard resident and stage and screen star Tony Shalhoub will auction off a series of items during the evening.
Ms. Cash’s newest CD, The River and The Thread, has received rave reviews from various publications. “It’s an album we’ll be looking at in December when it’s time to single out the most powerful works of 2014,” said the Los Angeles Times. “Cash matches styles to stories, showing her mastery of Southern music’s many dialects,” wrote NPR music.
The daughter of country music legend Johnny Cash, she was born in Memphis and has lived in New York City since 1991. She also has Massachusetts maritime roots. Some of her ancestors settled in Salem in the 17th century, and some were among prominent whaling families on Nantucket.
The Gay Head Lighthouse is at risk as it sits 46 feet from the edge of an eroding cliff, according to gayheadlight.org. It was recently designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, and geological experts advise it should be moved within the next year. The fundraising goal for the project is $3 million.
Tickets are $200 in advance from Alley’s General Store, Aquinnah Town Hall, Midnight Farm, and ticketsmv.com, and $250 at the door. Doors open at 8 pm. For more information, visit gayheadlight.org.
After the past three years of solid Fourth of July music entertainment, Independence Day weekend on the Island would be incomplete without the return of the YMCA of M.V.’s Stars + Stripes Festival to the Flatbread Company at the Airport. Fans of pop, rock, electronic, or just an all around good time should clear their calendars for Saturday, July 5, at 7:30 pm because this year’s festival is sure to please with a lineup of high-profile bands fresh out of national fests like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Coachella, and fresh off the Hot 100 charts.
Sponsored by Neon Gold Records, Flatbread Company, and the Beach Plum Inn, Stars + Stripes 2014 will begin with Ithaca’s alternative band X Ambassadors. 2014 World Cup spectators may recognize their music from the Beats by Dr. Dre commercial, “The Game Before the Game.”
Following will be Charli XCX, the dark pop singer whose appearance in Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” music video has landed her credit in the number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100. If the explosive success of her 2013 debut studio album “True Romance” is anything to go by, her act is not one to be missed.
Lizzy Plapinger will be next to take the stage with her indie pop/alternative band MS MR. Ms. Plapinger and Neon Gold Records co-founder Derek Davies grew up with Island summers and a love for music, and the two have been helping to bring great music to the Island for Stars + Stripes since its onset.
For the first time since 2011, The Knocks will close the evening with the electronic mixings of Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson.
Stars + Stripes has raised more than $150,000 to benefit the YMCA of M.V. since its 2011 launch and seems to grow each year. Last year’s performers, including Walk the Moon and St. Lucia, played to an audience of nearly 700 people. In keeping with the tradition of opening acts performed by teens who belong to Alex’s Place teen center, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students Kasey Stevenson, Liam Weiland, and Tessa Whitaker will open this year’s festival.
Tickets to the show are $30 in advance or $35 at the door and are available online at ticketsmv.org or at the YMCA. Doors open at 7pm and admission is 21+. More information can be found at ymcamv.org.
Music and movies make a winning match at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center this weekend. The second annual Film and Music Festival opens Thursday, June 26, and runs through Sunday, June 29.
On Friday, “Dancing in Jaffa” demonstrates how dance can overcome the political and cultural tensions of that Middle East region. After an opening night reception, Argentina provides the setting for “Living Stars,” a film about dance music. A dance contest will follow this comedy, with prizes awarded to the best moves. “Finding Fela” follows with a look at the life and music of Nigerian singer Fela Kuti, father of the Afro-beat movement.
“We Are the Best” headlines the schedule for Saturday, June 28. This Scandinavian film follows the antics of three 12- and 13-year-old girls who decide to form a punk band. The film captures perfectly the chaotic energy of girls that age who want to rebel, but do so with thoughtfulness. The first sign of Bobo’s (Mira Barkhammar), Klara’s (Mira Grosin), and Hedvig’s (Liv LeMoyne) free-spirited rebelliousness comes from their punk hairdos. Parents remain in the background, not because they are neglectful but because the girls want to keep them on the periphery of their lives. Their conversations often turn to faith and God, particularly once Hedvig joins the group since she is Christian, something Bobo and Klara see as not being cool. “We Are the Best” captures the openness and sense of possibilities that goes with this age group and does it with remarkable insight and accuracy.
“Mateo” follows with the story of the first white mariachi singer in the U.S. Director Aaron Naar will participate in a Q&A session via Skype following the screening. The closing film on Saturday is “Brasslands,” a documentary about the first international brass band competition, held in the small town of Guca, Serbia, on the 50th anniversary of what is the world’s largest brass band festival. Michael Ginsberg of Zlatne Uste, a Brooklyn-based Baltic brass band formed in 1983, helps narrate the film. “Brasslands” emphasizes the way this “really gutsy” music erases political and cultural barriers, including the friction between the U.S. and Serbia after the U.S. bombed the country in the 1980s, and between ethnic groups such as white Serbians and black Serbian Romas.
On Sunday, “Alive Inside,” directed by Michael Rossano-Bennett, explores the way music helps free up the elderly suffering from dementia. Leslie Clapp, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living, and Marvin Rosecrantz, who appears in “Marvin and Saralee,” which precedes “Alive Inside,” will discuss the music and memory program of this institution after the screenings. Directed by Rebecca Sesny, “Marvin and Saralee” tells the story of a Martha’s Vineyard couple dealing the Alzheimer’s Disease. “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” will close the festival. Directed by “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Mike Myers, this film traces the story of this Hollywood music manager’s life and his embrace of Buddhism.
The festival opens with — believe it or not — a silent film, “Safety Last!” Live music will be played by the 11-member Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, which has composed a new score to accompany this comedy, which stars Harold Lloyd.
“Safety Last!” is one of the most enduring silent film classics. The film features the acclaimed comedic genius Harold Lloyd and boasts an iconic image of cinematic history – that of Lloyd dangling from a giant clock on the side of a building over a bustling Los Angeles street.
Lloyd, who is among the ranks of silent screen comic greats Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and led the pack as the biggest box office star, navigated his own hilarious and daring stunt work. The quintessential motion picture treasure is in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
Meticulously preserved for decades by the Harold Lloyd estate, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society will present a gorgeous new digital restoration from Janus Films, sourced from an original nitrate print.
“Safety Last!” with the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, Thursday, June 26, 7:30 pm. Preceded by a documentary short on how the live musical score for “Safety Last!” was composed.
“Dancing in Jaffa,” Friday, June 27, 4 pm. “Living Stars,” Friday, June 27, 7:30 pm. “Living Fela,” Friday, June 27, 9 pm. “We Are the Best!” Saturday, June 28, 4 pm. “Mateo,” Saturday, June 28, 7:30 pm. “Brasslands,” Saturday, June 28, 9 pm. “Alive Inside,” Sunday, June 29, 4 pm. “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” Sunday, June 29, 7:30 pm. All films at M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. $12; $9 M.V. Film Society members; $7 ages 14 and under. Festival pass: $75; $60 for members. For information, tickets or passes, visit mvfilmsociety.com.
“Easy come, easy go…” sang the crowd along to the soft tune of Jemima James’s sultry voice at Mocha Mott’s Coffee Shop Sessions on Tuesday, June 10. The melody slipped out as easily as the steam rising from the pot of coffee brewing behind the counter.
The evening was part of weekly collaboration of musicians arranged by Kevin Medeiros of Smokin’ Rooster Productions, and hosted by Mocha Mott’s in Oak Bluffs. The free event was part of a series of music nights that will be held every Tuesday throughout the summer. Acts are mostly local artists offering various styles of acoustic music, though Kevin noted that the set lists are “pretty much whatever anyone wants to play.”
Jemima’s set in particular was characterized by mellow acoustic guitars accompanied by a harmonica and a twangy mandolin. The band’s laid-back style was evident as they encouraged the spectators to clap and sing along and at points paused and restarted songs to ensure everyone was playing in the same key. The intimate space paired with the easy listening melodies created a warm and inviting atmosphere for attendees.
“Jemima is the Mother Hen of Island musicians,” explained Kevin, a musician himself. “She brings her musician friends close to her and gathers them. It’s a family thing for her. It’s like they are sitting in their own room when they play up there.”
Vincent Padalino hummed along as he pointed out, “These are some of my favorite folks here on the Island. I like to clap along. The Island definitely needs more small venues like this. It’s good to see music where you’re not out at a bar where it’s all dark and noisy.”
Kevin agreed. “The Island lacks places to play like this,” he said.
Necessity being the mother of invention, the Coffee Shop Sessions were born in May of this year and their popularity has been steadily growing as attendees raved about the quality of music and low-key ambiance.
As the mandolin player walked out the door in the middle of a song to smoke a cigarette, Vincent laughed and explained, “That’s Island style for you. That’s kind of how we do it here.”
Mocha Mott’s stays open late on Tuesday nights to host the event. Doors open at 7:30 pm and the popular Island coffee shop offers basic coffee and espresso drinks in addition to a large selection of baked goods during the performances, which typically last about an hour. The event is free, but donations are encouraged.
This Tuesday, June 17, see Alex Karalekas and Kyle Higley. Visit Mocha Mott’s Facebook page for future shows.
Mocha Mott’s & Smokin’ Rooster Productions Coffee Shop Sessions, Tuesdays, 7:30–8:30 pm, Mocha Mott’s, Oak Bluffs. Weekly music night features different musicians each week. For more information, visit facebook.com/mocha.motts.
Boston band The Wild Northern (TWN) will take the stage at the Dive Bar in Oak Bluffs this Saturday, June 14, for their first-ever show on the Vineyard.
Comprised of Roland Eckstein on vocals and guitar, electric guitarist Brian Gallagher, Andy Guerini on drums, Jim Abdon on bass, and guitarist Jim “Big Cat Fitzgerald, TWN is an Indie-rock quintet that has recently played big venues such as Manhattan’s Webster Hall and the Hard Rock Café in Boston. As their name suggests, the band’s songs have a rustic feel. Their music will take audience members to New Jersey porches, meteor showers, and railroad tracks. Mr. Eckstein mixes Springsteen-esque lyrics about love and heartbreak with those about the natural world (“Come on, girl/With your sweet, fluorescent swirl/Be the breeze that eases my world/Be the sea, toss and turn” – “By the Indigo.”)
The show is among the first of the season at The Dive Bar, which will host events at its Circuit Avenue home below The Lampost throughout the summer. The band’s website bio invites Islanders to “come on out and get wild.” The show will begin around 10 pm. Admission is 21+ and there will be a $3 to $5 cover charge. For more information, visit divebarmv.com or check out TWN at thewildnorthern.com.
A group of prominent Island musicians will come together at The Lampost this Friday, June 13, in support of the Martha’s Vineyard Skatepark. The M.V. Skatepark Association will host the show in hopes of raising money to upgrade the park from plywood to cement.
The show will cater to listeners of varying genres, featuring appearances by Dukes County Love Affair (DCLA), Island Thunder, and The Hammerheads.
DCLA is the Island’s premier youth rock band with, as band members Adam Lipsky, John Stanwood, Jamie Green, Mike Parker, and Phil DaRosa call it, a “Gypsy Rock-hop” sound. Their repertoire includes both songs that have become Island nightlife anthems since the band formed in 2010 and those from their latest EP, High Sky.
Island Thunder will shift the tempo with classic and contemporary reggae. Their Vineyard following will likely appreciate the growth in their music; DJs Carter Hakala and Spencer Binney and the six-person band’s bases have spread from the Island to California and Jamaica, according to their website.
The Hammerheads will channel the 60s by bringing surf music with a contemporary edge to the stage. The group is made up of members from past Island staples The Kahoots and Master Exploder.
Thirteen years have passed since the skatepark, a nonprofit 501(c)3, was formed through a community effort by Island workers and volunteers. Since 2003, the association has aimed to improve its ramps, which sit on land donated by the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and comprise an Oak Bluffs town park.