Carly Simon at Dreamland in benefit for breast cancer month

Carly Simon headlines a musical line-up that includes other locals such as Nina Violet, Sabrina Luening, DJ Di, as well as off-Island talent, at Breast Fest this Saturday. — File photo by Susan Safford

Carly Simon tops the star-studded lineup of local and regional musicians joining forces to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Dreamland in Oak Bluffs this Saturday, Oct. 13. Dubbed Breast Fest, the musical extravaganza is, appropriately enough, all about women, featuring nearly 20 talented female artists from on and off Island.

Raising more than awareness, the evening will generously benefit the Martha’s Vineyard Breast Cancer Support Group, which will receive all profits and donations.

Organizers encourage patrons at the 21-plus event to dress their best in shades of pink, calling attention to the fight against breast cancer. Tickets are $10.

A breast cancer survivor herself, Vineyard neighbor Carly Simon, despite her 25-plus albums and glittery celebrity status, frequently lends her support and talents to meaningful community causes.

“She was happy to be part of it and be included,” said Phil DaRosa, entertainment director for Dreamland. He added that Ms. Simon loved the idea of community musicians gathering together as a group to support breast cancer awareness and the important local organization.

As though Ms. Simon’s presence itself were not enough to pack the spacious venue, along with many local favorites, a bevy of off-Island talent will add to the musical excitement. All part of the New York-based Outlet Collective, the five young regional artists include Mieka Pauley who was a hit playing at Dreamland this summer, Jeannine Hebb, Lisa Jaeggi, Sami Akbari, best known as Sami.the.Great, and Wyatt.

Every one of these upcoming female artists is uniquely talented, all with striking creative personalities that illuminate their widely varied music.

“We’re lucky enough to have them come and support this event,” said Mr. DaRosa.

The five-musician group was already booked to come to Dreamland this Saturday as the last stop on their inaugural East Coast Singer/Songwriter Tour. Since they were all women, it seemed wonderfully fitting to join them with local artists for the special benefit.

“It was kind of serendipitous,” said Mr. DaRosa. “It all worked out.”

All of the women have their own bands, but for this uncommon evening they will be performing solo and playing acoustic sets, showcasing their singer/songwriter gifts.

“The artists are a group of engaging and fearless women who are revolutionizing the singer-songwriter genre and paving the way for women to follow, as did so many before them,” Eric Sosa, owner of Monarch Presents Agency, booking agent for the tour commented by email. “The audience can expect to relate to them on a musical, personal, and emotional level. They are your sisters, your best friends…a connection that goes beyond the listener level.”

“All these singer/songwriters are immensely talented,” said Lydia Kanuga, Outlet Collective publicist. “They all complement each other, they all add a little bit of flavor to the mix.

“The fact that Carly Simon is going to be there performing too and this event benefits cancer support makes it that much more special,” she said. “To have a legend of her caliber performing is going to be great. It’s going to be large talent in a little room!”

Plenty of familiar Vineyard talent is on the program too, well-loved female artists including Jemima James, Nina Violet, Marciana Jones, and Lexie Roth will perform. Also on stage will be Sabrina Luening, Treather Gassman, Shelagh Hackett, Emily Hunsacker, and Andrea Dello Russo. DJ Di and Pretty Ninja will be on hand as well, working their deejay wizardry to keep the atmosphere upbeat and festive.

According to Mr. DaRosa the evening will begin with a mellow vibe as local and off-Island singer/songwriters take the stage. As the night grows later, bands will take the spotlight, encouraging the audience to dance until closing time. His advice – “get there early!” – since music will start soon after the doors open at 7 pm.

Along with a table of information about the support group and related breast cancer awareness material, there will be donation buckets and concertgoers will be encouraged to contribute.

“My little musical adventure got kind of big,” said event organizer Larry Laverdure, who got the idea for an all-woman concert in August. Mr. Laverdure, a bassist with the popular band Good Night Louise, knew Emily Hunsacker and Andrea Dello Russo, who sing with his own Larbear and the Lazy B Band. He was familiar with and impressed by many other talented Vineyard female musical artists too.

“I thought it would be great to have a night that showcased them,” he said.

He sought guidance and help from Mr. DaRosa as well as seasoned musical event organizer Rob Myers who quickly came up with the Breast Fest title. Mr. DaRosa invited Ms. Simon to join in, and he arranged to combine the local women with the regional Outlet Collective singer/songwriters.

Believing an all-female concert should benefit a group helping women, Mr. Laverdure began researching. Realizing that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month he felt that the M.V. Breast Cancer Support Group was the ideal beneficiary. And he is glad all funds raised will stay on the Island.

Mr. Laverdure said this is the first event he has planned, and expressed gratitude to Mr. DaRosa and Mr. Myers for their expert assistance. He said he has high hopes that the 500-capacity Dreamland will be filled Saturday night. Considering the amount and level of talent to be assembled and the importance of the cause, he is likely to see his hopes fulfilled.

Breast Fest, Saturday, Oct. 13, 7 pm–1 am, Dreamland, Oak Bluffs. $10. For more information and tickets, visit

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referenced the MV Cancer Support Group, a separate organization from the MV Breast Cancer Support Group.