Seeds planted for annual Martha’s Vineyard Sound Fest

MV Sound Fest, held at Waban Park, featured 10 locally and nationally known bands. — Michael Cummo

Saturday’s super moon rose over a throng of dancers at Waban Park in Oak Bluffs. The music of Dukes County Love Affair (DCLA) blared from a set of speakers on either side of a stage that, throughout the day, housed 10 bands of local and national acclaim. Each group and musician contributed to the park’s lively ambience, yet it was DCLA bassist Phil DaRosa who, having organized the first Martha’s Vineyard Sound Festival to kickstart the new nonprofit The Island Collaborative, was to thank for the day of music, art, food, and dance.

The festival grounds were an embodiment of the community effort that The Island Collaborative aims to endorse. Volunteers and community members offered time and resources for event planning and the physical set up of the area. Local vendors, nonprofits, and artisans such as The Green Room, Eclipse Massage Therapy, and Kenworthy Fine Artisan Craft lined the grounds with booths at which they sold their products and services, and Vineyard Bottled Waters offered free water for attendees journeying to and from their spots by the stage.

The day began slowly; those connected with the Island music community and interested passersby trickled through the gates as Hawaii singer John Cruz performed the first set at 3 pm. Local artists Traeger di Pietro and Dan VanLandingham set up a canvas in the middle of the grounds to paint as the festival progressed; Tisberry Frozen Yogurt, Flatbread Pizza Company, Island Spirit Kayak’s Shaved Ice Shack and Slice of Life offered provisions to enjoy while listening to the likes of Lexie & Arlen Roth and Alex Karalekas. Children spent their afternoons getting face paint jobs and blowing bubbles with the stage as a backdrop on one side and the ocean on the other.

Somewhere between Barefoot Truth’s Will Evans’ performance at 5 pm and Good Night Louise at 5:30, festival goers covered the grass before the stage with lawn chairs and picnic blankets. Ben Taylor entertained the crowd with whimsically provocative lyrics, followed by Jazz duo Dwight & Nicole. DCLA and Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish took the stage just in time; as temperatures dropped around 8 pm, the remaining audience members kept their blood pumping by moving their feet. When the festival gates closed, after parties at Island Bar & Grill, The Dive Bar, The Ritz, The Lampost, Sand Bar & Grill, and The Port Hunter carried the music on through the night.

Many of the performers agreed that the festival’s first attempt was a successful one. “I would do it again next year, for free,” said singer/songwriter Alex Karalekas. “I’m all in favor of local outdoor music.” Island folk singer staple Willy Mason remarked that Waban Park is a “great place for a festival.”

Mr. DaRosa, too, was pleased with the outcome of the MV Sound Fest in its first year. “I couldn’t have asked for a better vibe,” he said. “The seeds have been planted.”