Jazz on the patio

You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy the Sweet Life Cafe.

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It doesn’t have to be a date or a special occasion to enjoy an afternoon of oysters, bubbly, and talented local jazz performances at the Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs.

With climbing ivy, shimmering lights, and a classy outdoor milieu, the patio at Sweet Life is the perfect afterbeach spot to unwind and start the evening.

Now, the Sweet Life Cafe is open 3 to 5 pm every Saturday and Sunday, offering sweet and succulent oysters, hand-picked wines, champagnes, and cocktails. They also have a special bar menu and local brews on draft.

After sucking down some smooth Spearpoint oysters ($2 each) with housemade cocktail sauce and sipping on a refreshing glass of Bronca prosecco ($16), I decided to order some Sweet Life signature wing dings with a Thai chili peanut sauce ($12), which sated my friend’s and my craving for something fried. The breading on the wings was crispy and not too thick, with a soft texture that soaked up every bit of the thai chili sauce, which was spicy but also tangy and sweet. 

But the main attraction on the Sweet Life patio is the smooth jazz music played by local musicians.

As my friend and I sat at the bar soaking up the ambiance, Silas Berlin and Rose Guerin put their own spin on some jazz classics and completed the atmosphere of the unique space.

Guerin’s voice swayed through the tent and onto Circuit Avenue, where people could be seen dancing on the sidewalk. Berlin injected a feeling of tranquility into the air with his piano performance. All the while, I found myself tapping my foot along to the music.

Adam Jackson, our polite and attentive bartender, said he is a jazz fan himself, and likes the genre for the type of atmosphere it can create.

“Jazz is a music of great variety,” Jackson said. “You can pair it with many different scenes, and it can go with all of them.”

Jackson said he is aware of the Island jazz heritage that exists, and knows how many musicians there are now.

“We want to get the word out to local talent that this is a great place to play when there really aren’t that many places to play jazz,” Jackson said.

Guerin also mentioned the extensive history of jazz music that exists on Martha’s Vineyard, and wants that history to be honored and carried on.

Guerin said that, for her, “jazz music is soul music” that you can feel in many different ways.

“You can’t easily define jazz, it’s whatever you want it to be. It can be serious, and it can be relaxed,” Guerin said. 

Silas’ father Jeremy Berlin is a classic Vineyard musician like Rose. He was there on the patio to watch his son’s performance and enjoy some tasty bites and drinks. 

He said jazz is a “tough sell sometimes,” and that it needs a real home here on the Island.

Although jazz doesn’t cater to everyone, Berlin said the genre is incredibly adaptable and has a broad range.

“Jazz isn’t just one thing. It is a huge spectrum, and there are many ways of doing it,” Berlin said. “You can’t really say ‘Oh, jazz is this, jazz is that.”

Erin Ryerson, owner of the Sweet Life Cafe, said she wants to utilize the beautiful and unique outdoor space, while also promoting Island-grown talent. 

She said she doesn’t want Sweet Life to be seen as just a special occasion destination, and instead wants people to pop in and cool off with some live music and good food. 

“I think Sweet Life might feel intimidating, and we want the entire space to feel approachable and welcoming,” Ryerson said. “Don’t wait for a special occasion. Come hang out, maybe have a drink, and relax.”