For artists, expression is a way to work through emotions, look introspectively, and attempt to comprehend the world.
The band Era of Good Feelings, which consists of five young Islanders, is all about using that expression to promote positive vibes for themselves and their audience.
On Thursday, the group presented a medley of tunes, including some of their own songs, and many popular covers with their own Good Feelings flair.
The jams took place as part of the M.V. Drive-In put on by the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, MVY Radio, and the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard.
There was something for everyone at the musical performance, including some Beatles mixes, home-cooked tracks produced by Era of Good Feelings, such as the rip-roaring “Mango Chutney,” and a particularly impressive compilation of some of Jimi Hendrix’ greatest hits.
WMVY’s Ray Whitaker introduced the band with passion, and thanked the contributors: the YMCA, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, and all the volunteers who made the event happen.
He said Era of Good Feelings have been ever-present at Alex’s Place, participated in the Aquinnah music series: Adrenaline Music Project, and are “all about the whole garage-band, lovefest feel.”
“They have been everywhere, it’s just what they do,” Whitaker said.
The band consists of vocalist and guitarist Skylar Hall, vocalist Jo Orr, solo guitarist Kieran Karabees, bassist Jack Holmes, and drummer James Murray.
Hall said he has a studio in his basement where the band comes together frequently to practice, write their own music, and have fun.
“I just Snapchat them, and we pretty much just get together right away,” Hall said.
Murray said he loves to play music, and he knows that audience members appreciate being able to see live sessions again after so long. “I think it’s fun, I know other people think it’s fun. It’s a fun way to do something together and have that interaction,” Murray said.
Hall said he and the band have been “fiending” to get back together and play, since it has been so long since their last public gig.
“We are talking about one gig in the past year, so that sucks. But it is really fun to get back together because we have gotten a lot better since last year, when we last played for an audience,” Hall said.
Orr said music in itself is a form of emotional expression, and during a time of so much angst and isolation, it is healing to be able to get those feelings out into the open. “We have so many emotions right now, and we have been deprived of the only thing that gives us that release. Even in this slightly disconnected form of cars in a parking lot, it is really important to have live music as much as we can, because it is the only thing that really lifts us up,” Orr said.
Hall said he feels lucky because the band members have been quarantining as a pod together, and have had lots of time to practice and jam out.
Holmes added that nothing makes him happier than playing music, and there is nothing he would rather do with his time than jam with his friends.
In a time when social connection is so lacking, Karabees said, music provides that experience for both band members and the audience, and he feels that sensation every time he gets up on stage. “People are getting so distant from each other with urbanization and smart phones and social media, it is good to have that face-to-face connection that is really lacking these days,” Karabees said.
For Hall, music is a way to let out some of his anger and negative energy in a positive and constructive way. “It really lets out the anger, so all that negative energy is just gone right after we play,” Hall said.
Murray said playing live music gives him something to look forward to, which for many during the pandemic is a rare anticipation.
Orr said that as a trans artist, they use their music to connect with other people, and then to have that suddenly taken away was tragic. “It is really nice to get back to playing and just feeling like one of the boys, and getting that sense of normalcy again, because music is that universal language that connects us all,” Orr said.
In the near future, Hall said, the band is looking forward to releasing some music from the home studio, once the band gets a good handle on the recording equipment.