From Lake Wobegon Days to the Queen of Soul, summer concert series takes shape

Aretha Franklin comes to the Tabernacle August 19.

Thanks to the Martha’s Vineyard Concert Series, summer 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting season for music lovers. The confirmed lineup for the series’ sophomore season, announced last week, will include shows starring 10 groups and individual performers of national and international renown. The highlight of the season will be an appearance by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

The series will kick off on May 28 at the Performing Arts Center with a combination storytelling and musical evening headlined by Grammy-winning storyteller extraordinaire Garrison Keillor. Keillor’s variety show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” which was aired on 700 public radio stations, ran for an astounding four decades, from 1974 through 2016. Keillor has also penned a number of books, including the bestselling “Lake Wobegon Days.” He will be joined by popular folk-Americana duo Robin and Linda Williams.

Next up, rock/new wave/pop icon Aimee Mann will take the stage at the PAC on June 28. The Oscar-nominated and Grammy awardwinning singer-songwriter founded and fronted the popular ’80s band ’Til Tuesday before embarking on a successful solo career. She will be performing her original folk-tinged music, including songs from her just-released ninth album, “Mental Illness.”

The action will move from the PAC the following week with a performance by folk legend Loudon Wainwright III on July 6 at the Old Whaling Church. The Grammy awardwinner will deliver a set of his trademark humorous, autobiographical songs.

Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Graham Nash will perform at the Old Whaling Church on July 18. The Crosby, Stills and Nash co-founder has since pursued a very successful solo career, and is also well known for his work as an activist, having co-organized the No Nukes concert, among other benefits in support of social and environmental causes.

On August 19, the evening after the annual Oak Bluffs fireworks on August 18, the town will once again be ignited by a concert with the legendary Aretha Franklin at the Tabernacle. The performance by the 18-time Grammy winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient should prove to be a must-see event of the season.

The New Orleans–based Dirty Dozen Brass Band will take to the stage at the Old Whaling Church on August 21, rocking the house with their signature blend of bebop, jazz, funk, and R and B/soul.

Other shows in the series include performances by big band Pink Martini, acoustic duo and Vineyard favorite Jackopierce, political satirists Capitol Steps, and the Florida-based duo Black Violin, who perform a unique mix of classical, hip-hop, rock, and bluegrass music.

According to a press release, more shows will be announced in the coming weeks. Many of last year’s shows, including appearances by David Sedaris and Alan Cumming, were sellout events.

The Martha’s Vineyard Concert Series is curated by Island resident Adam Epstein and Chicago-based live event producer Innovation Arts & Entertainment. Tickets for all of the shows will be available soon. An all-new member loyalty program will offer three tiers of membership, with benefits including priority access to tickets, special discounts, and more. Discounted memberships will be on sale through April 15. For more information, visit