Get ready for Ladyfest

Nina Violet gave a passionate performance last year. —Susan Safford

We love our music here on Martha’s Vineyard, and the Ritz , a year-round bar and live music venue, celebrates that almost every night. This Saturday, Oct. 20, they’re taking that love to the next level. The second annual Ladyfest will hit the town hard.

“We’re shutting down Circuit Ave.,” Rose Guerin, headliner and Ritz bartender told The Times. “We doubled up on music, and we’ve got three stages. It’s more of a music street festival this year.”

Ladyfest is co-hosted by Connect to End Violence, a Martha’s Vineyard Community Services group. The annual event is meant to shed light on issues surrounding domestic violence, as well as feature the Island’s talented women performers and musicians. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to plug in to the cause.

Ladyfest is co-founded by Guerin and Ritz manager Kelly Feirtag, who’ve spent the past year planning this outdoor live music celebration.

“We partnered with the town to make that happen,” Feirtag said. “Selectmen were really supportive. They basically gave us a list of homework. They were cautious and wanted to make sure we did it right, and make sure the town was comfortable with it.”

The event features artists from many genres of music, including rock, soul, and pop. The main stage will be anchored at the top of Circuit Ave. outside Island Theater, and there will be a secondary stage in Healy Square near the Post Office. The third stage will be inside the Ritz. Here’s the lineup:

  • 7-8 pm: The Outskirts at the Ritz stage
  • 7:45-8:30 pm: Lucy Mayhew at the Healy Square stage
  • 8 pm: Island Hip Hop Dance Crew at Island Theater
  • 8:15-8:30 pm: Siren Mayhew at Island Theater
  • 8:30-9:30 pm: Kate Taylor, Barbara Dacey, Delanie Pickering, Jessie Leaman, Mike Benjamin, and Siren Mayhew at Island Theater
  • 8:30-9:15 pm: Miss Biskis at Healy Square
  • 9:15-10 pm: Jemima James at Healy Square
  • 9:30-10:15 pm: Rose Guerin at Island Theater
  • 10-10:45 pm: Nina Violet at Healy Square
  • 10:15-11 pm: Sabrina and the Groovers at Island Theater
  • 11-12 pm: Space Invaders at the Ritz
  • 12 pm-1 am: Auntie Em and the Bed Spins at the Ritz

“All our acts are donating their time, which we’re incredibly grateful for,” Feirtag said.

“This is a completely volunteer-based thing,” Guerin added.

Plenty of men will be onstage for the Saturday evening event: Wes Nagy, Mike Benjamin, Phil De Rosa, Josh Campbell, DJ Wep, and more.

“The owner of the Ritz, [Larkin Stallings] has been the muscle behind a lot of this project,” Feirtag said. “He’s been extremely supportive, and has a lot of connections with the police and highway departments.”

There’s a $10 suggested donation, which gets you a pink “Ladyfest” bracelet, as well as a 10 percent discount from partnering Oak Bluffs restaurants from Saturday night through Sunday evening. Participating businesses include Sharky’s Cantina, Slice of Life, Offshore Ale, the Ritz, Coop de Ville, the Cardboard Box, Ocean View, the Loft, and MV Chowder Co.

Guerin and Feirtag touched on the presence of sexual violence and harassment on-Island. “We have a zero-tolerance policy here,” Feirtag said. “Unfortunately, that makes us the targets for displaced anger. We just want people to come here and have a good time,”

“This is a celebration of women and the fantastic music we all make together,” Guerin said. “Come and have a good time in this day in age of strife.”

Next year, Guerin and Feirtag hope to expand even farther. “We stuck to Oak Bluffs for this year, but our hope is that we can incorporate other towns and other female business owners in future years,” Feirtag said.

An Island Girl Scout troop recently reached out to Feirtag, asking how they could be involved in the event. “We’ll definitely figure out something with the Girl Scouts for next year,” she said.

Saturday’s event is kid-friendly, so the founders encourage you to bring the family. I asked what they’re most excited for. “Once it’s all set up, and actually witnessing that we did it,” Feirtag said.

“I’m with her on that one,” Guerin added.

This is Feirtag’s second year as manager of the Ritz. “It’s been great,” she said. “I feel like our team is really a family. We all have each other’s backs. If the staff feels good, supported, and happy, then it doesn’t feel like work to me. For the most part, we’re able to do that.”

“We have the best jobs,” Guerin said. “We get to host the best party on the Island every night.”

Ladyfest sponsors are Offshore Ale, Washashore Beer Co., North Slope Plumbing and Heating, Tara Reynolds art, the Oak Bluffs business association, Martha’s Spiked, and Johnny Showtime. For more information, visit