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Bombshell Sound Agents hosted its first official Hi Life Dance Party last Friday night at the Mediterranean. DJ Justin Martin of Dirtybird Records in San Francisco entertained after an opening set by Sydny.

Bombshell’s next Hi Life Dance Party is Sunday, June 27 at the Lampost, with music by Tanner Ross and Sergio Santos. For more information, visit or

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Nectar’s begins its second season under the management group that launched Nectar’s in Burlington, Vermont more than 30 years ago. The appearance by well-recognized reggae star Pato Banton, followed by a local artist night on Sunday, including Willy Mason and Phil DaRosa, is part of an overall plan, according to Aaron (Chief) Busick, Nectar’s general manager and talent buyer.

“Pato is a national act and national acts are important but supporting the rich local music scene is also part of our thinking,” Mr. Busick said Monday morning in the nightclub, located off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road in Edgartown, at the airport. “It’s a rich musical environment here and people like Willy and Phil could certainly be playing in a lot of places but they chose to be here.”

In fact, Local Nights, as they are called, will be a staple of the 2010 season, Mr. Busick said. “Local Night is a feature of a five-night-a-week entertainment package. Tickets for Local Night will be five bucks and all the money goes to the musicians,” he said.

“We are probably 30 to 40 percent booked for the season and firming up acts every day,” he said. “There will be some exciting surprises, particularly in August and around Labor Day. We haven’t released August dates yet but the schedule will be exciting. Big stuff, all genres.”

Nectar’s schedule for June and July includes: Pato Banton (June 11); Local Night (June 13); Zach Deputy (June 14); Local Night (June 24); Melvin Sparks Band (June 26); Toussaint Liberator (June 30); Local Night (July 1); The Boogies (July 2); Barrington Levy (July 9); Matt Kearney (July 23); Arrested Development (July 24); Donovan Frankenreiter (July 25).

While promising the joint will rock as it always has, Mr. Busick notes, “another focus is to bring all kinds of music here in a supper club format; jazz, bluegrass, world music, for example.”

Talking with Mr. Busick and poking around the cavernous club, a reporter gets the sense of a venue that is changing and shaping a clear personality that is different from the club’s prior iterations as Hot Tin Roof and Outerland.

For example, a large beehive oven stands on the mezzanine level to the left of the stage, where Flatbread Company will begin food service in July. “We’re going to have a simple menu — pizza, a few other things and some desserts,” said Paul Cucchiarelli, kitchen manager of the eclectic 10-unit pizzeria with restaurants in places from Maui and Whistler to Somerville.

“The idea is to be family-friendly and affordable,” Mr. Cucchiarelli says of the plan to partner with Nectar’s on the Island. “We prepare the food where people can see it, that’s a form of integrity, and we’ll use as much local and organic products as we can. That’s what I’m doing this week, visiting the farms and growers around the Island,” he said. Like Nectar’s entertainment plan, Flatbread has been thorough, down to finish design elements using clay in colors similar to the those seen on Aquinnah cliffs. The oven has capacity to bake 10 pies every 8 to 10 minutes, Mr. Cucchiarelli said.

And as a perk to the community, “Every Tuesday, we will invite a different community group to use Flatbreads for their own fundraising effort,” he said.

Nectar’s will retain its interior feel: “You have to love the look here. Walls covered with photos. This place has a rich music tradition,” he said. Rather than a cosmetic makeover, the managers will upgrade the sound quality and bring in new furniture conducive to dining and entertainment.

Both men are focused and intent, free from showbiz yada-yada. They are confident in an idea they have helped make successful in other locales. They believe the partnership is synergistic.

“It’s like a Venn diagram,” Mr. Busick said, thumbing up an Internet picture of two overlapping circles on his cell phone. “See? Those two circles are independent of each other but they overlap each other as well. That’s how we see this partnership,” he said.

For more information, visit or call 508-693-1137.

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Late Sunday afternoon brought windy weather and the sounds of bleating sheep outside Dukes County Love Affair’s studio in Lambert’s Cove. The music slowly died down, and the band, which includes Islanders Mike Parker on lead vocals, harmonica, and megaphone, Jamie Green on drums, and John Stanwood playing guitar, started talking.

How would you describe the music that DCLA writes and plays?

JS: It has been a long running problem of what description exactly fits the music we play. I would call it Gypsy Blues Hop.

MP: Experimental Blues with Hop Fusion.

JG: It is hard to describe: Dirty Rock and Roll, Megaphone funk.

When did DCLA initially form?

JS: On the boat — we were all returning home from different travels in late May 2009.

MP: We hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years and just started talking about music right there on the boat.

So I know you guys write your own music. How does that happen, and do covers ever come into play?

JS: All originals. Exceptions and covers include Cakes’ “Nugget” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” with our own lyrics sung.

MP: All our music we write. We also covered “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel at a New Years Eve show. I write a lot while traveling and come back to Stanwood humming a tune and he’ll mimic it on his guitar. I’ve also described it as very basic guitar chords and lyrics…pre-school material…and then John will take it and turn it into master material.

Who have you guys listened to over the years that inspire your songs?

MP: Led Zeppelin, Mos Def, Bob Dylan for my writing influence as well as Old Crow Medicine Show for the harmonica, Beck, The Rolling Stones’s early albums, specifically “Beggars Banquet” (1968) and “Exile on Main Street” (1972), The Roots because they are a live band that plays hip hop, The Rock and Roll Adventure Kids from Berkeley, California, and The Heartless Bastards from Ohio.

JG: As for drumming, definitely Nirvana for their simple yet hard aspect, Zeppelin, Broken Bells, The Gorillaz, Beck, Fun Loving Criminals and the DJ/Hip Hop scene.

JS: Tom Waits, The Kinks, Chuck Berry, Nico, Dan Auerbach, Townes Van Zandt, Radiohead and David Byrne alongside of The Talking Heads.

What’s the funniest cover song DCLA has ever performed?

JS: It was a Christmas Jingle Bell Rock rhythm free-style that lasted like a minute and a half in Che’s Lounge.

Have you all traveled to the mainland for any gigs lately?

JS: Yes. Brooklyn, New York and Brattleboro, Vermont, but we will be playing more.

JG: In Brooklyn, we got the cops called on us because we were playing too loud in a too-small restaurant.

Where was DCLA’S first gig ever and how did it turn out?

MP: The Island House early summer 2009. It was great because after the gig, we all knew we could continue playing music together, and people would like it. It was reaffirming.

JS: Even people that didn’t know us liked it. That was huge. We knew it could be serious.

JG: I second that. I was so nervous during our first show until finally everyone started jumping around.

Do each of you have day jobs and do you like them?

JS: Yes and yes. Drafting, design, and construction is what I do when I’m not playing music.

JG: Yup. Carpentry, and it’s very nice. My workload is lighter this summer so I hope to be jamming a lot more.

MP: I’m working as a painter but really enjoy helping out at Nectar’s for Locals Night, fundraising for Hospice, trying to give back through music with the help of the Island.

Do any of you have a muse for all the music you create?

MP: Traveling, absolutely traveling and backpacking.

JS: I haven’t ever thought about it before. (long pause). My dad, David Stanwood, influenced my musical background and I could never be where I am without that, but today, a lot of different things inspire my music.

JG: These two kids are, John and Mike, and A.K. [Alex Karalekas] for the drums. But any positive feedback makes you want to keep going.

Any news you boys would like to share for the upcoming summer?

JS: We want to be playing consistently new stuff at every show.

JG: Trying to record an album, play out a bit but record a lot. I also dedicate this summer to making new songs.

MP: I concur.

Where can we hear your music next?

JG: Nectar’s on Sunday, June 13, the first Locals Night of the season, and following that we’re playing the Dive Bar on June 19.

The boys drifted from music and talked surf swells, then went off about a new song as they got their instruments. A smoky, sad sound reverberated as DCLA tuned into playing their own “Dukes County Blues,” where Mike Parker embellishes with a heartfelt harmonica and simple bass.

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Deborah Strauss performs at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center last Sunday, May 30. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center (MVHC) hosted a concert last Sunday with Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer, the Strauss/Warschauer duo, who play Eastern European Jewish music. Before the concert, MVHC also held a workshop on klezmer and Yiddish music for singers and musicians. Musicians who attended the workshop were invited to play at the dance party following the concert.

The weekend was full of other events: The duo held a workshop for musicians on Thursday to prepare for the musical Shabbat service on Friday, which was followed by a vegetarian potluck. For more information about the musical duo, visit

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Che’s Lounge, the beloved coffeehouse that was tucked away in the alleyway on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, closed on Monday due to financial difficulties. But the Lounge didn’t leave without a final kick. On Saturday night Che’s held a CD release party for the high school band Pierre, and followed with a massive tent sale outside on Sunday.

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This weekend the Vineyard Playhouse will play host to a couple of very talented and engaging female singer/songwriters, one — an import from Boston — on the forefront of the folk rock circuit and the other, an Island girl who is poised to make her mark on the scene with the release of a powerful debut CD.

On Friday night, Boston-based musician Sarah Blacker, who inaugurated the coffeehouse venture last fall, returns to give her local fans another chance to catch her pleasing mix of jazzy folk rock delivered in a voice that’s been called “a cross between Joni Mitchell and Ella Fitzgerald.” Vineyarders will also be treated to an opening set by the countrified rock of Girls, Guns and Glory. Last November Ms. Blacker, her reputation preceding her, played a two-hour set before a good-sized enthusiastic crowd and her return to the Vineyard has been a much-anticipated event.

On Saturday night, Vineyard born and raised Meghan La Roque (who coincidentally made her stage debut as the star of the Vineyard Playhouse’s production of “Annie” almost 20 years ago) celebrates the release of her first fully produced CD, “Carry Me Home.”

Ms. La Roque has only performed a few times at benefits since she returned from a career-launching journey out west four years ago. The singer has devoted her time to the CD since moving back to the project, which includes songs she began in her last year in Los Angeles and those that she wrote since returning home. The aptly titled “Carry Me Home” chronicles the emotional journey which corresponded to Ms. LaRoque’s odyssey out west and back.

About half the tunes on the CD were written during the end of the seven years Ms. La Roque spent in L.A. and San Diego pursuing her musical dreams. During the few months prior to her return, Ms. La Roque took nightly walks through the streets of L.A. — feeling relieved to be alone with her thoughts. She compares those song origins to musical journal entries and notes, “I wasn’t thinking of making a CD out of it. I was really trying to work through some of my inner monologues.”

Ms. La Roque describes the L.A.-composed portion of the CD as “edgy with a punkish sentimentality.”

“You can hear those nuances in the percussiveness and the melodies of the songs.”

Ms. La Roque was prepared to give up on the music industry when moved back to the Vineyard. However, upon her return she connected with producer Jimmy Parr and the two were able to create a sound that conveyed the myriad emotions that Ms. La Roque was working through in those rocky years in L.A.

Newly influenced by the Island and the joy brought to her life by her homecoming, the songwriter also began a new series of songs.

“There’s a whirlwind of ocean that happens to us creative folk on Martha’s Vineyard,” she says.

Fortunately for her fans, that whirlwind has produced an amazing body of songs in which, while they reflect joy and a sense of redemption, the validating scars are still very much in evidence. Ms. La Roque sings with a conviction and honesty that can’t help but draw you into her world. A bit of grit and gruffness has led to comparisons to Chrissie Hynde, and Ms. La Roque certainly does not rely on vocal tricks or airy prettiness for effect.

While the singer’s voice is strong and distinctive, there’s something especially pleasing in hearing an honesty in vocals that matches the highly confessional nature of the lyrics.

Spoon in the Moon Coffeehouse 7 pm, Friday and Saturday, May 28, 29, Vineyard Playhouse, Vineyard Haven. Fri.: Sarah Blacker; Girls, Guns, and Glory; Ward Hayden. Sat.: Meghan La Roque. Free coffee, tea. $15; $10 seniors.

Gwyn McAllister is a frequent contributor to The Times.

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How many bands are there in the United States at any given minute? How many of them are any good? Probably more than is worth counting.

Cover bands, bands that play music created by others, are a dime a dozen and some of them are pretty good. Many cover bands produce music that is indistinguishable from the original songs. They spit out duplicates of the original songs and we are entertained.

1 Night Stand played at the newly renovated Seasons Pub in Oak Bluffs Friday night and they are pretty darn good. They play “mostly cover tunes,” according to their lead singer Dan Panico, who lives on the Vineyard and is the owner of the Computer Lab. Their Facebook site claims they are “an intense four-piece rock/top 40 cover band playing radio hits that people know and love.” But unlike most cover bands, they craft their songs into versions that in many cases are better than and often unrecognizable as the originals. Mr. Panico said that they play a wide range of songs and try to incorporate the latest hits into their repertoire with their own twist.

1 Night Stand is made up of four musicians. Mr. Panico sings, plays tambourine and an occasional harmonica. He has a clear emotive voice that can take a ballad apart, wrap it around your soul, and put it back together and have you dancing the night away. And he can push the occasional hard rock tune with the best when required.

Canadian Andre Lamarre from Quincy plays a wonderfully understated guitar and his vocals compliment Mr. Panico’s.

Kumari Miker is one of the more accomplished bassists I have heard in a long while. She drives the rhythm section with her intensity and she sings.

Their harmonies are spot on and their musicianship superb. Kenny Issacs is the band’s regular drummer. The excellent drummer Jay Trevor filled in for Mr. Isaacs at Seasons on Friday, May 14.

Mr. Panico claims the band is “a high energy dance band,” which they in fact are, but they produce a lyricism and melodic center that goes beyond being just a dance band. I heard the Byrds, Lifehouse, and Gin Blossoms as well as Bad Company, Aerosmith, and Pearl Jam in their stylings and I know there are other influences that I just can’t put my finger on.

Their professionalism and comfort level with each other belies the band’s name. Mr. Panico said that they have been together for two and a half years. They are very good and it is a good thing that they are not just a one-night stand. They will be back at Seasons Memorial Day weekend. While most of their gigs have been in and around Boston, they plan to play a number of other dates on the Vineyard this summer as well.

Seasons’s summer schedule is not yet set in stone but according to managing partner Mike Santoro, they will have live music three or four nights a week, karaoke three nights a week, and some comedy. Mr. Panico is the karaoke MC on Tuesday nights. Mr. Santoro said he is proud of the new menu and the renovations at the Circuit Avenue restaurant and bar.

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Hannah Marlin belts out "Dancing in the Street" with dancers, from left, Emily Lowe, Justine Tucker, Ashleen Cafarelli, and Mitchell Lowe. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

It was indeed An American Celebration this past weekend, when the Minnesingers performed two concerts at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s Performing Arts Center. The singers soulfully sang Motown hits such as “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5, to spirituals and American jazz, in costumes as spirited as the students.

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Community radio has survived on the Island and now it’s poised to thrive. Bring your imagination, your kids, and your party shoes to Mediterranean restaurant on Saturday.

Island community radio station 93.7 WVVY-FM is serving up Air Fair, a marathon two-part fundraiser in Oak Bluffs.

Beginning at 12 noon until 4 pm, the restaurant hosts a hometown trade show with 40 booths offering Island products, services, advice, and a chance for Island residents to shake off winter. WVVY’s DJs provide the daytime entertainment.

“It’s an opportunity for vendor businesses and organizations to know they have a platform in the community. We hope to break even on the event. Really, this is a chance for the community to know us better,” says TaraRose Macuch, WVVY’s director of development.

Then the all-volunteer station staff will break down the fair and set up for a Mini Music Fest, an evening of music between 6 pm to 1 am, featuring a host of Island bands and musicians, including Nina Violet, Colin Ruel, Kahoots, and others, interspersed with appearances by station DJs.

Air Fair is a first time event, the brainchild of Ms. Macuch, director of development, and station art and graphics director Diana Reilly.

“A group of us at the station decided it was time to do another event,” Ms. Macuch says. “Ultimately, educational non-profit media require funding and you have to start somewhere. We wanted another way to connect to the community, to educate the community about WVVY and Martha’s Vineyard Community Radio. Air Fair is a play on words. People can air out their ideas. All are welcome and encouraged.

“Roving reporters will interview each vendor during the day and MV Productions will create a video that will be broadcast on their website and on ours,” she said.

Admission, covering both the fair and the evening party, is $10 per person and $20 for families to benefit non-profit MV Community Radio station. A food and beverage area features food and treats from Mediterranean, Chilmark Bottled Water, Offshore Ale, Tropicale, Depot Coffee Bar, and the Art Cliff truck. Vendors will set up inside Mediterranean and in one of two tents outside. Sponsors include ECO-MV and Allied Waste who will help provide a zero-waste event.

Air Fair promises a kid-friendly environment with an outside Kid’s Disco Tent, featuring games, face painting, drawing, and spin art. DJs Philippe Bourde and Tai Cabral will preside over the kids’ tent.

Vendors include: Nisafit, Circuit Style, Leslie Freeman Designs, New Moon Salvage, Scott Campbell Art, M.V. Film Society, M.V. Museum, M.V. Boy Scouts, Vineyard Energy Project, ECO MV, M.V. Productions, Rising Tide Therapeutic Equestrian Center, M.V. Capoiera Demo, Sergeant Sparrow Records and Magazine, Hopps and Soap Nuts by Keren, M.V. Art Association, Aurora’s Aura, M.V. Helping Homeless Animals, The Good Farm (Jeff Munroe and Zephyr), Ramona and Josie’s WVVY custom blockprint tees, Bella and Arakataka’s Little Band, The Model E (Josh Baker, Will deBettencourt and Micah Agnold), Facepainting by Rose, Imagine, NMC Originals, Waters of the World Aquarium, The Yard Dance Colony, The Green Room, M.V. Skate Park, Blue Fish, M.V. Kidz, Real Wild Foods, Whippoorwill Farm CSA, M.V. Adventure Camp, Goddess Glimmers, Bee Happy Manuka, Luciano Reina Jui-Jitsu, and Citrine.

Air Fair is part of the two and one-half year old station’s campaign to grow its shoestring budget and build awareness of homegrown programming that uses the considerable and eclectic talents of Island residents. WVVY-FM 93.7 went on air in December 2007 just before expiration of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) charter that enabled low power start-up community radio stations.

The station recently filed for full power licensing from the FCC and has submitted a federal grant to underwrite the full power construction permit that would extend its limited signal reach.

After several years in startup mode, Martha’s Vineyard Community Radio is developing an authentic and offbeat personality characterized by its events (Halloween Hellraiser and Air Fair), a blend of nearly two dozen DJs, and its website and Facebook presence.

Jack Shea is a regular contributor to The Times.

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The Island Community Chorus got an unexpected gift of time when, just weeks into this rehearsal season, the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital rescheduled its grand opening for the weekend of April 10 and 11. The chorus’s spring concerts were bumped back to April 17 and 18, and artistic director Peter Boak promptly raised his expectations and set the bar higher for the weekend performances at the Old Whaling Church.

“We had already started our rehearsals a couple weeks early this year,” says Mr. Boak. “Something I’d done because you never know what the winter weather will be. As it turned out, we had no snow days, and we got an extra pair of rehearsals because of the hospital celebration, so we’ve really had a great opportunity to prepare for this concert.”

Mr. Boak says the chorus has used its extra rehearsals well: “I’ve had a lot more time to work musically, rather than just trying to make sure the notes are right. We can work on nuance and be persnickety about the details. Sometimes in the course of a rehearsal season, I have to move on even when something isn’t quite what I want. I didn’t feel that pressure this time around.”

How will this Saturday and Sunday’s audiences be able to hear the difference? One way, Mr. Boak suggests, is to listen for contrasts in how the choir presents the work of various composers.

“One of the first things I said to the chorus, when we started rehearsing in January for these concerts, was that our job is to make sure the Mozart doesn’t sound like Faure, and Faure doesn’t sound like Haydn. I think we’ve really accomplished that, conveying all these stylistic differences.”

The Island Community Chorus is billing its spring program as a concert of choral masterpieces. The program began to take shape in Mr. Boak’s mind last fall, he says, when he was working with the Federated Church choir to present a piece by Johannes Brahms, “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place,” as a Sunday anthem.

“We had such a good time with the Brahms,” he says. “And it sounded so beautiful, that I kept thinking, ‘I would love to hear the community chorus sing this.’ And with this sound of the Brahms in my head, I started exploring what other pieces would be fun to sing with it. That’s how this program came together for me.”

Among the classics the chorus will present this weekend are works in Latin, Russian, Italian, French, and English. The choir worked with diction coaches Niki Patton on the Italian and Pierre Bonneau on the French, and accompanist Garrett Brown provided a useful recording which helped them with the Russian piece, a modern composition entitled “The Sealed Angel.”

It’s been a great challenge, and Mr. Boak is proud of the hard work the chorus has done to prepare for this concert program. “We really are trying,” he says, “to nail this music as faithfully as we are able to do.”

Island Community Chorus Spring Concert featuring compositions by Brahms, Faure, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Carl Orff, Pietro Mascagni, and Rodion Schedrin: 7:30 pm, Saturday, April 17, and 3 pm, Sunday, April 18, Old Whaling Church, Edgartown. Suggested donation: $15.

Nis Kildegaard writes a regular column for The Times. He sings in the Island Community Chorus and serves on the organization’s board.