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.