Party starts at The Post
We get excited in spring by the first daffodil and crocus blooms, annual signs of life returning to the Island.
For 35 years, The Lampost's spring reopening has been one of those early signs of business life returning to Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs.
And at 9:30 tonight, Sabrina Leuning, that soulful Island songstress, will kick off the 2010 season. This is the landmark bar's sixth season under general manager and part owner Jamie Hayes. The ownership group includes Adam and Janet Cummings, and Christine and Drew Cummings. They purchased The Lampost in 2005 from Peter Martell.
For longtime Island residents and visitors, it has been a familiar neighborhood bar, offering entertainment that sometimes included the antics of hard-partying patrons. But according to Mr. Hayes, the establishment has been undergoing a slow, steady metamorphosis over the past six years.
"Our main goal is to improve things every year. We want to provide good entertainment, reasonably-priced drinks, and something to do for customers seven nights a week," Mr. Hayes says. "This year we've continued to upgrade our sound system. We paint and refurbish a little more each year."
The Post, as some regulars call it, has expanded to occupy all four floors of the building. The lowest, formerly called The Rare Duck, is now called The Dive Bar, and offers game tables and Wii. The separate entry way is a few feet up Circuit Avenue. The three upper levels of The Lampost consist of: the first floor bar with a small stage, pool tables, video games, and bathrooms; the second floor bar with a large stage, dance floor, and bathrooms; and the third floor lounge with couches, tables, and a small bar.
With expansion allowing for 880 capacity, The Lampost is now arguably the Island's largest venue allowing, as Mr. Hayes, says, for additional - and upgraded - entertainment options. "We want to bring as much diversity to our entertainment as possible," he said last weekend. The Lampost will offer a DJ on Saturday nights and a reggae DJ on Sunday night, both in upstairs rooms.
"Come in any night of the week and something's going on, that's our goal," Mr. Hayes says. "We have a pool tournament on Monday night and live entertainment at least four nights a week. We're planning to do a Rock Band night." Rock Band is an electronic game that allows players to create songs or recreate classic tunes, similar to karaoke.
"We want to be a source for the best Island entertainers and we're working to bring in the best of the regional bands from New York and Boston," he says, noting that The Zoo, a New York band, will play three dates this season. "We'll also have Entrain this season," he says of the Island-based band that has been very successful over the past two decades.
"We haven't nailed down specific dates, but we expect The Zoo to appear once a month in June, July and August."
From a business standpoint, Mr. Hayes believes slow and steady is the best formula for success. "We don't have the deep pockets to bring in national acts like Nectars has done," he says, referring to the nightclub formerly known as The Hot Tin Roof and Outerland, located at the Martha's Vineyard Airport.
"Our goal is to provide the best regional and local bands, entertainment seven nights a week, a broad selection of reasonably priced drinks and fun events and promotions.
"Nectars brings people to the Island and it's more of a destination. We're on Circuit Avenue. If people are here, we'll get our share. We can be an option for the up-Island crowd that used to go to Nectars. I'm not sure what's going on, so we might fill an entertainment void."
Mr. Hayes is cautiously optimistic about business in a recovering economy. "We worried about that a lot last year, but it worked out okay," he says. "We saw a lot more college students in here. That could be a good economic sign. And we had bad weather last year." He noted that the forecast for gorgeous weather this weekend might help boost attendance on opening night.
As for the upcoming summer season, Mr. Hayes is also hopeful. "If people are staying closer to home for vacation, we hope the Island will be a destination for them," he says.
The Lampost opens today, Thursday, April 1, at 4 pm. Sabrina Luening performs from 8 pm to close. The first pool tournament of the season is on Monday, April 5, at 8 pm. For more information, visit lampostmv.com.