Coming together at Alex’s Place

Singer Rose Guerin performs an original song and plays guitar. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Over the past few weeks Alex’s Place at the YMCA has hosted a Collaborative Concert Series with Project Next and The Print Shop (TPS), designed to promote social opportunities for older teens and young adults.

Project Next is an initiative of the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Task Force aimed at providing support and drug- and alcohol-free events and opportunities to the Island’s 18- to 26-year-olds. Along with TPS, a new pro recording studio on the Island that is owned and operated by Phil DaRosa, and the resource of the teen center at Alex’s Place, the concerts are proving a refreshing new nightlife option for younger people on the Island.

As an 18-year-old myself, I was the perfect candidate for attending the event, and I’m glad I did. Honestly, despite being the target demographic for the night’s performance, I wouldn’t have thought to attend on my own, but after the suggestion from my editor, and the addition of a couple of friends to keep me company, I was pleased to be a part of it.

Upon entering Alex’s Place I was expecting a typical night of music, someone on stage and spectators watching, but it was much more than that. First, I noticed the giant artwork hanging against the wall in the right corner, where artist Darcie Lee Hanaway was painting on a canvas as tall as she was. This observation, and several other elements, made me realize just how collaborative the entire evening was — this was not just a music show.

At one point during the night, a little girl walked up to Darcie while she was painting, and she handed the girl a brush and allowed her to contribute to the live painting. Another great visual addition to the show was the captivating video projections that appeared across the backdrop of the stage, courtesy of Graham Smith, which danced to the music of the talented Island musicians that graced the stage.

Musicians for the night included Jemima James, Geordie Gude, Shawn Barber, Ivy Bassett, Rose Guerin, and Phil DaRosa. Rose Guerin was especially captivating, and at one point all musicians took to the stage together for an impressive group performance. I was glad I chose to spend my Saturday night appreciating these Island artists, and I would definitely recommend attending the next event. Typically, there isn’t much to do on a snowy Saturday weekend here, especially for people in my age group, but these collaborative concerts are a great excuse to get out of the house, have fun, and get inspired.

The next and third event in the four-part series takes place this Saturday, April 4, from 7 to 10 pm at Alex’s Place. This week’s musical lineup features Adam Howell, Alex Karalekas, Alyssa Cimeno, and Rob Myers. All concerts are free of charge and open to all ages.

In a press release for the series, Tony Lombardi, Alex’s Place Teen Center director, said, “For years the Vineyard has been known for its unique and eclectic entertainment options, one of which has always been the Open Mic/Open Stage idea. Many amazing artists have cut their performance teeth on stages such as ours, and Alex’s Place will continue to offer opportunities such as these that serve not only our young adult community, but also our teens.”

In an email to The Times Mr. DaRosa also added “I think it’s one of the best small venues on the island where we can take advantage of great sound, lighting, and amazing people at the helm to create an alcohol-free environment for people to come out and enjoy music and art.”

Hallie MacCormack is a work-study intern with The Times. She will be reporting occasionally throughout the semester.