A standing-room-only crowd was wowed on a recent Tuesday at the Spotlight on Youth musical revue, presented by the West Tisbury Library Foundation as part of its long-running Tuesdays at Twilight summer musical series at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury.
An Island-wide array of talent assembled by Brian Weiland, music teacher at the Oaks Bluffs School, trouped onstage for about two hours in the fourth annual Spotlight on Youth event.
Singers and musicians, ranging in age from 10 to 18, took the stage before a crowd of 250, with their own music, standards, and some funky derivatives.
If you closed your eyes and listened, you wouldn’t know that teens and preteens were serving up the sounds. Weiland has been directing the event for four years, talent-spotting at school concerts and revues year-round to assemble a glittery cast.
“Yeah,” Weiland laughed this week, “I guess you could call it that. We always want to make sure that Island towns are represented at this event. And we get recommendations from teachers at Island schools.”
Weiland has an eye for the work. Granted, some picks are slam-dunks. Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School 2018 graduate Emily Hewson looked Broadway-ready in her torchy rendition of “If You Hadn’t But You Did.” You may remember Hewson’s performance as Maria in “West Side Story” at the high school last spring.
But who could’ve expected 10-year-old Samson Mallory to absolutely kill it with his “House of Gold” solo, accompanied by best buddy Aiden Weiland, 11, on a hot violin.
The young performers had some professional backup (see cast below) but the teen band Era of Good Feelings brought improv skills to a showstopping version of “Wagon Wheels.”
Weiland explained: “Unfortunately, our female lead singer had to cancel. Our sax player, Jailen Edelman, said he’d do the vocals. Different key, of course, and he’d never sung it before. But about five minutes before they went on, the band came to me and said, ‘We got it,’ and on they went,” Weiland said.
Sitting in the audience, the only clue that this was a bit ad hoc was seeing Jailen check the lyrics occasionally on his cellphone as he sang. And so it went, a revue of talented and confident youth, delighting peers, parents, and community.
The cast and their music selections included: Era of Good Feelings — “Wagon Wheel,”
Jack Crawford — “Lights,” Ava McGee — “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” Kasey Stevenson — “Need U Here,” Emily Hewson — “If You Hadn’t But You Did,” Aiden Weiland — “La Voyage/MacArthur Road,” Chloe Loftfield — “All of Me,” Rob Hanjian — “Original Song,”
Samson Mallory — “House of Gold,” Spencer Pogue — “If I Ain’t Got You,” Jaiden Edelman — “Imagine,” Mackenzie Condon — “Nellie,” Emily Mello — “When I Was Your Man,” Christian Schmidt — “New Light,” Maddy Tully — “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and Era of Good Feelings — “Wipeout.”
Band: Brian Weiland on drums and guitar; Eric Johnson on guitar; Geoff Patterson on bass, guitar, and piano; Peter Boak on piano for “If You Hadn’t But You Did,” and Aiden Weiland on violin on “Wagon Wheel” and “House of Gold.”