Listening local: Two Island bands play at the P.A. Club this weekend

From left, Ivan Bozanic, drums; Alain Lucas, bass; Annie Cook, vocals; Slim Bob Berosh, guitar; Greg Ruszah, guitar and vocals. — Courtesy Anne Cook

Annie Cook might be better known on the Island as a painter, but these days it’s her music that she’s feeling most passionate about. After spending several years in the Washington, D.C., area, where she spent time working on her music and writing songs, she’s back home now and playing with her band, the Devolvers, a group she describes as upbeat trip-hop and rock.

Ms. Cook earned her stripes singing backup before she formed her current band. Like many Island musicians and performers, she’s worked with several different bands as well as her own.

After she arrived back on-Island last April, she spoke with Scott Crawford from Pathways at the Chilmark Tavern. Ms. Cook proposed her then “retro-rock with a lounge vibe, very tongue-in-cheek” act, and he agreed that Pathways was a great place to try it out.

“So I got some guys together to support me — Griffin McMahon, a wonderful keyboardist, Don Groover, Slim Bob Berosh, Alain Lucas, and Kevin Medeiros. They moonlighted with me for that gig, and we played three originals and two covers. That was my first collaboration with Island musicians in a while,” Ms. Cook said.

In that same vein of collaboration, Annie Cook and the Devolvers will be playing with another local band, Electric Pie, on Friday, July 21, at 9 pm at the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs.

Andy Herr plays guitar in Electric Pie and other bands around the Island, in between hours at his job at Island Music on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. He says Electric Pie’s music is hard to define, calling it “rock fusion/jam band-style music with elements of punk, funk, reggae, psychedelic, jazz, blues, klezmer … you name it.”

Mr. Herr is a strong proponent of Island musicians and opening up more venues for playing. Island Music hosts an open-mic night for all levels of performers every other Tuesday.

“I’m interested myself in just seeing the music scene in general develop,” Herr said. “Places like the Ritz have a following, but the P.A. Club is out of the way, and one of the biggest venues on the Island. It’s sort of a local place where Islanders can go and see familiar faces in the summer.” He said the P.A. Club has been great to work with, and that the space is underutilized.

“A lot of people think you need a membership to go to the P.A. Club, but you don’t. If they are having a public event, it’s open to everyone,” Herr said. “They’ve got this great venue, and they’re really nice folks. Besides, they represent something important on the Island, the cohabitation of different populations.”

In addition to Electric Pie, Herr performs in Jellybone Rivers and the Maniacs of the Heart and the Pickpocket Bluegrass Band, as well as giving private lessons and teaching classes.

Even though Island musicians stay busy year round, summer was a tough time to pull together a new band, Ms. Cook admitted, considering most of the musicians play with more than one band and have full-time jobs.

“We’re keeping it very light,” Ms. Cook said. “Everybody is so busy — three players [in the Devolvers] have other bands as well, and you need practice time.”

The camaraderie of Island musicians is something both Andy Herr and Ms. Cook enjoy, so much so that at the end of Friday’s performance, their bands will come together for a mashup, playing a few songs for fun. “Being an artist is very solitary,” Ms. Cook said, “but the music is communal and collaborative, and for me, as a gregarious person, it’s very necessary.”

The Devolvers and Electric Pie play the P.A. Club, 137 Vineyard Ave., Oak Bluffs, on Friday, July 21. The Devolvers open at 9 pm, with Electric Pie following.