Good news for music fans on Martha’s Vineyard: in June Nectar’s will kick off its third season bringing live music by nationally touring musicians and acts to Vineyard audiences.
On Friday, April 22, the club announced a partial lineup for summer 2011. With two successful seasons under their belt, Nectar’s Martha’s Vineyard, the younger sister of the original Nectar’s in Burlington, Vt., which was established in 1975 and spawned the blues/rock phenomenon Phish, replaced Outerland, which closed its doors after three years. It would appear likely that Nectar’s is set to enjoy longevity similar to the Hot Tin Roof, the original nightclub that occupied the unassuming space near the airport for 25 years.
Scheduled dates include a couple of longstanding blues legends and a few already established newcomers who are poised to break out onto the international music scene.
The club opens its doors on Memorial Day weekend with Grammy nominated reggae artist Don Penn on Friday night, the traditional local band party on Saturday night, and Entrain on Sunday.
On June 15, founding member of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen, will bring his guitar virtuosity to the Vineyard. On July 1 the multi-genre, multi-instrumental phenomenon Keller Williams will make a first appearance before an Island audience. On July 24, the mighty Taj Mahal will return to the Vineyard after a history of performing to sellout crowds at the old Hot Tin Roof. On August 20, Nectar’s will welcome back the Ryan Montbleau Band from Boston who have a large following both here and nationwide.
Additionally, Nectar’s has announced that the Grateful Dread, who hopped on board halfway through the season last year, will be a resident band once again, playing every Tuesday starting June 7. Local favorites Entrain are also committed to playing a few shows, continuing a longstanding relationship with the club in its various incarnations. Nectar’s aims to have two to three shows per week in June and four to six per week in July and August.
This spring, in order to make the effort to cater to local tastes, Nectar’s and MVY radio are promoting an online survey to determine which bands and genres Vineyarders and visitors are interested in. Participants are entered in a drawing for a season VIP pass to Nectar’s. Two are being given away and the first winner was chosen on the day of the initial lineup announcement. The club has already received almost 1,000 responses to the survey, and a second drawing takes place on May 6, at which time the remainder of the 2011 confirmed acts and dates will be released.
Says general manager and talent buyer Aaron Busick of the survey, “The feedback and support from the local community have been great. It helps us do what we do… Our top priority is supporting the local scene wherever we’re at.” He adds that the Vineyard has a strong musical heritage. “We want to give people in the local music scene the opportunity to play a historic stage. That gives the community ownership.”
As to the results of the survey, Mr. Busick was very pleased with number of people who participated. “Most surprising was the overwhelming response. People are excited to see us back and see what we can bring here. The surveys sheds light on the tastes of the clientele out there, which is varied but very strong.”
Mr. Busick notes that, predictably, there were a lot of requests for musical genres that the club has been known for featuring in its two years here — reggae, singer/songwriters, and classic rock. “What’s been lacking the last few years was some indie stuff and the blues,” Mr. Busick says. “The goal is to please everyone at least a couple of nights.”
How it works
Because of their positioning, the Nectar’s organization, which also books bands for venues besides their own, is able to make “block buys.”
“We do booking at colleges and we’re breaking into a number of other markets in the northeast,” Mr. Busick says. “The more rooms you have under your wing the easier it is to increase your ability to bring an act to a place that has a smaller room. You get a chance to see acts that wouldn’t normally play a room Nectar’s size.” Multiple bookings also help keep costs down. Mr. Busick comments that ticket prices will generally run around $20 to $30, although some established acts like Taj Mahal will necessitate somewhat higher prices.
Travel and housing arrangements for bands are complicated by the Vineyard’s limited accessibility and seasonal housing situation. “It affects the whole deal in terms of the financial implications.” However, Mr. Busick explains that these obstacles can be offset by the attraction of the locale to musicians. “We just have to go after acts that will work with us. The historic nature of the club and the appeal of being on the Island sways some of the acts. Some stay for a few days.”
Aside from a refocus on the talent offered, not much else will change this year. Flatbread will once again be offering their natural pizzas and salads made from organic ingredients.
“There will be no major structural or aesthetic changes but we’re making significant improvements to the bar and entrance to improve crowd flow,” Mr. Busick says. “Each year has been better than the last. We’re really excited for another season.”
To take the short survey and be entered to win the remaining VIP pass, go to nectarsmv.com.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:Correction: April 29, 2011An earlier version incorrectly stated the number of years Outerland operated. It was three years.