Festival has people energized

Beach Road Weekend selling out fast.

Adam Epstein, CEO of Innovation Arts & Entertainment, shown here during Beach Road Weekend's construction in 2019, is reporting brisk sales for the 2022 concert. — Gabrielle Mannino

Three years ago this week, Innovation Arts & Entertainment CEO Adam Epstein stood before the Tisbury select board and urged them to let him use Veterans Memorial Park to bring a three-day music festival to Vineyard Haven.

It took months of negotiations over the logistics, but Epstein pulled off Beach Road Weekend to an enthusiastic crowd, a pleased select board, and with inevitable complaints from about a handful of neighbors that hasn’t kept him from looking ahead.

The 2020 concert was harpooned by COVID-19, and in 2021 Epstein planned a much smaller event, Beach Road 350, with COVID still a concern.

For 2022, Epstein has put together 30 bands over three days for the weekend of August 26-28 that features Beck, Wilco, the Avett Brothers, Emmy Lou Harris, and others. Growing off the success of 2019, Epstein has created travel packages with Island hotels, and even some off-Island accommodations such as the “glamping” campground in Falmouth, which features Airstream campers.

“It’s going to sell out way in advance,” Epstein told The Times of Beach Road Weekend. “We’ve already sold the equivalent — over the three days of the festival — of 25,000 tickets. It’s staggeringly wonderful. We put a lot of work into a lineup that we thought was compelling. We’re getting positive praise from everybody in this industry. The common thread throughout the festival and the diversity of it is something everybody is talking about. People are buying tickets from all over the world to come to the Island.”

Epstein, who has partnered with Mansion House in Vineyard Haven, Hob Knob Inn in Edgartown, the Lark and the Edgar in Edgartown, and the Martha’s Vineyard Campground, said the Island accommodation packages have already sold out. Music fans can buy festival passes or packages that include tickets and places to stay, Epstein said. “We’ve already sold $1 million in hotel rooms through our travel package portal on the Beach Road Weekend website,” Epstein said. Ticket sales have come from 43 states, and some purchases were from outside the country. “We see where people are coming from, and it’s remarkable to watch,” Epstein said. “We saw our first order from France about two weeks ago.”

Diane Carr, co-owner of Hob Knob, said the festival is scheduled for a weekend that is typically “softer” for reservations. “[Adam] and his team made it very easy for us, but more importantly the concertgoers,” she told The Times. “Our property sold out quickly, which made me quite happy. For that weekend, we will host folks from all over the U.S. and abroad.”

Carr noted that the festival benefits tourism. “The event is good for the Island tourism, and brings dollars to retailers and restaurants as well,” she said.

Ben DeForest, an Oak Bluffs restaurateur who has been a partner of Epstein’s on the festival, said it harkens to his days growing up on the Island in the ’60s and ’70s like the No Nukes Concert and Jimmy Buffett playing at the old Ag Hall. 

“These are great pieces of Martha’s Vineyard past and history,” DeForest told The Times. “Sadly, so many things ended as time went by and liability concerns grew. The world’s become so much more difficult — red tape, liability, and litigation, and things people shy away … What Adam Epstein has done is remarkable. He went to every meeting, every board.”

As someone who has been around rock concerts and festivals, DeForest was impressed with Beach Road Weekend in 2019. “The first one was remarkable,” he said. “Adam hit and nailed everything. He thought of it all.”

The announcement of Emmy Lou Harris and others to the lineup ignited ticket sales. “It lit a fire under the attention the festival got, and it is becoming what we hoped it would be — a celebration of live music in a casual environment,” he said. “It’s one of the smallest festivals around the country, and we want it to stay that way, but at this point we’re ahead of schedule in reaching a point where it will sell out.”

All of this comes as there is a resurgence of COVID on the Island and across the country due to the omicron variant. Epstein, who was speaking to The Times from an ongoing tour with satirist David Sedaris, said the uptick is concerning, but not insurmountable.
“At this point there are best practices to reduce the odds — being vaccinated, being boosted, wearing a mask are all ways to reduce the odds of getting sick,” he said. “Of course, it’s always a concern. The safety of the festival and its guests has been at the top of our process since 2019. We care about the enjoyment and safety of the families that come. After 2019, I said one of the best parts was walking around the festival during the day or at night and watching parents sit next to their kids, laying on the ground, and looking up at the stars without worrying about being trampled.”

Beach Road Weekend has added an event to Vineyard Haven that was missing. Oak Bluffs has the fireworks, Edgartown has its wine and food expo, and West Tisbury has the Ag Fair. 

“We’re trying to be a contributor to the local economy,” Epstein said. “We were hopeful it would become an annual event, but it’s become something much bigger.”

DeForest isn’t surprised Beach Road Weekend is doing so well. “Adam’s got a lot of people who believe in what he’s doing. Martha’s Vineyard needs more events like this, more things like this … It captures a certain part of the magic of the ’60s and ’70s that are getting lost as time marches on,” DeForest said. “Even with COVID, Adam didn’t stop. When he saw there were going to be limitations, he adapted, and he immediately rolled into doing the drive-in theater live concerts. He kept in the mix, and he didn’t stop. He did everything he could … Adam has been thrown some serious gut punches. He gets up. He keeps going.”


  1. not everyone. concert disrupts summer sports for many hard working, year round locals and leaves a lasting negative effect on the fields during our seasons. money wins out.

    • Please share your evidence of the negative effect on the field.

      The point of the article was that many year round locals also participate in, and support the festival, which contributes to the island, it’s labor force, and local businesses.

      No one is taking anything from you, and much of the money you speak of stays local.

      • We have a very short window during the summer months to enjoy our sports leagues at the park. We miss out on 2 weeks (almost 20%) of our season due to the festival. The field gets torn apart from the trucks unloading and loading concert equipment. It made for an uneven and thus unsafe area of the fields where our athletes had to navigate with extra care.

        • Please share where these uneven locations are. We have always committed to restoring the field after an evaluation by local experts, who then restore the field at our expense.

          Have you investigated using any of the many unused softball and soccer fields on island during the period of the festival?

          • Where are the “ unused” fields? Most are in use and if they aren’t it’s because they are recovering from being played on heavily already or they are in such bad shape that they aren’t safe.

          • Left field on the main field. Every other field is designed for children and much too small. High School fields unavailable.

        • Hold the concert in September. It would have the same benefits to the local workforce and the same islanders will still go and it won’t inconvenience many others. win win situation.

          • Albert Hess. Ridiculous comment. Know what you’re saying before you say it. Music can be enjoyed year round. Outdoor sports; more specifically softball; is meant to be played in the warmer Summer months. Equipment is designed to perform in warm weather. Colder weather will break a bat and there is potential for great injury and harm to anyone close to a bat that shatters. Soccer players are at greater risk for injury during the Fall when the fields are wet. Additionally, the entire park is not lit in the dark, so youth Soccer cannot continue after sundown. The concert is selfish and takes up a public space. This has a negative effect not only on the adult athletes who look forward to using that space but also the many children who also depend on that space during the Summer.

  2. The grass was damaged and still is recovering, there was a restriction on using the Park(a public space) for about 10 days, and this is OK?? Take it to a non-public venue.

  3. Jimmy Buffett sat in with Alex Taylor at the old Ag Hall in 1987. He did not play there in the 70s. The headliner was Third World. The event was called Island Fest 87 and the promoter was Donna Bouchard.
    It is funny how people can remember things that never happened.

    • Hi Jim, you are right I ran security for that show, Donna was the promoter on MV back then. Good memories of lots of good music and times. But I thought I remember the show was named: Island to Island Fest. I remember sitting down with Skip to set up coordination with the West Tisbury police department and he asked me where the off switch would be for him…… I hadn’t thought about that for a long while thanks for the blast from the past.

    • I’m trying to figure out how Ben can remember what happened in the 60’s. I was born in 1963 and don’t remember much more then starting elementary school. And I know Ben is younger then me.
      I was at the Alex Taylor show it the old Ag Hall and you’re right, at was 1987. And I think the music fest the tribe put in in Gay Head was 1989. The one thing I remember about that was 80% of the concert goers ended up with poison ivy.

  4. This “article” is one long ad for Epstein and company, I wonder how many tickets George is receiving for this one sided piece, and you have Adam sitting by his computer waiting to jump down anyones throat who doesn’t fall in line with the propaganda being promoted. And we the majority of home owners and voters of Tisbury allow our BOS to continue their allowing public ways and public properties to be “rented” out on the cheap on our tax dollar.

    • Mr Degotta, your comment defaming Mr. Brennan is completely unsubstantiated and puerile. You have no evidence of a quid pro quo. Stop it.

      • Andy– I agree with you once again– Carlos’s comment is way out of line.
        Defaming is a mild word– slander is more appropriate —

    • Call Ben Deforest or Diane Carr or any hotelier on the island or any business on Main Street in VH, and ask them how hard we work to be inclusive, and out others success ahead of our own.

      If you think it’s an ad for Beach Road Weekend or Adam Epstein, it’s because there’s so much positive news to report that chicken little stories like yours don’t have any merit of any kind.

      These conspiracy allegations of quid pro quo hold absolutely no water.

      In fact, we have not advertised with the Times since July, and have not done any ticket trades with any media source.

      I guess, the evidence is clear, your statements are baseless and simply wrong.

    • Don’t private softball leagues rent the field too? Don’t you pay to use the field and block it from others use?

      Why is it fair for that use but not for thousands of vineyarders who enjoy live music?

      • The park is public. We rent out one field, sometimes two for when the Women’s league is playing. The remainder of the park is still open and the public is more than welcome to use that space for recreation or relaxation. We don’t take away an entire park from the public, and if you were ever down there during sporting events you would see that anyone is welcome. Children, families, specatators, walkers etc.

        • You complain that BRW takes away “an entire park from the public,” but several thousand people come and enjoy the festival. Don’t they count as “public,” too?

          • It’s a private event that requires a rather costly ticket to enter. It costs nothing to walk through, exercise or picnic in the park. I am not saying don’t have the concert, but it should be moved to a different time of year. If it were held in September, the success of the concert would still be the same but it would not inconvenience as many people as it currently does. It’s called a compromise.

        • Why is it that the high school, which is also a public field won’t permit you to play there or on the sharks field once the season is done? Seems like a great option there for the short time period beach Road Weekend is in the park?

          • The Sharks field is a baseball field. The softball field at the high school has no lights. How would all of the teams play before dark?

          • Hold the concert at the High School then. More parking and the school district could use the money towards funding for many different programs. It would serve the community greatly. Tisbury, not so much. The Sharks field is designed for baseball, not softball. There is a difference. Far longer bases and overall bigger field, not to mention the raised pitchers mound that would cause a safety hazard when any ball was hit towards it. It seems every moot point you’re trying to make has a very logical response.

        • If the park can be rented for sports why not music.
          Are sports better than music?
          Which has more participation?

      • Albert you are correct. The Island softball league has been a successful Summer institution for many Islanders for over 40 years. As always, money and greed win out.

  5. Yes another brilliant display of the greedy and self serving, never mind the pandemic and super-spreader events!!!! Let’s just all have a great old time giving away public space for private use…and while we are at it let’s jam more people onto the island so other places will be crowded with the disease infested masses, nothing like full bars, restaurants, and hotel rooms to kick off another spike!!! Thanks Tisbury Bored of Selectmen, local health agents, and Atom-Covid bomb Epstein. Just Brilliant !!!

    • No one is “giving away” public lands. The festival pays Tisbury tens of thousands of dollars for a weekend than the combined softball season, plus the festival pays Tisbury sales taxes on concessions and merchandise sales, AND has a dedicated fund for repairs to the field.

      We neither receive nor request anything for free from the Town of Tisbury.

      All of our expenses and the funds we pay go out the door before we ever make any profit from this venture.

      Our audience and concertgoers are not disease infested. You should be ashamed of your prejudiced characterization of people you clearly know nothing about.

      It is sad that people like you cannot see how simple precautions can help prevent any event from becoming a source of spread of Covid. Just because you can’t figure it out, does not mean it’s impossible.

      Have you been hiding in a bunker since march of 2020?

    • Anthony– are you suddenly in favor of the local government “locking us down” ?
      Or are you being sarcastic ? I certainly post sarcastic comments occasionally ..

  6. hard people to work for (payed) work force was over 50yo, and managers that did not know what they were doing…if done once, would have been great, some things done three time,all heavy work…they should think about how to organize, hard experience for me and didnt have to be

  7. Unfortunately the noise level drives us nuts. It is so intense that it bounces off our neighbor’s house and causes an echo that is really disturbing. This was an issue the first year and so when the festival goes on we will leave the island and go to Vermont. The thumping is continuous and maddening. If you changed your sound system and lowered the volume we would be able to remain in our home. Glad to see you are responding to complaints. What is the type of sound system you are using and would you reduce the damaging impact on neighbors? Thanks. Also, taking over our park is just plain outrageous.

      • George– actually, if you look at most of Frank’s comments, he is quite reasonable— unfortunately for him, he lives in the area.
        While I can clearly see that he has a nimby reaction to this, I don’t think you are being reasonable with your response to him..
        How would you feel if this was in your back yard ?
        And how would you feel if someone posted such a condescending comment to your reasonable objections ?

    • Hi Frank. You have my contact info. If you actually wanted to know any of the details, you could just ask.

      Try it, and maybe spending less time trolling me in message boards and you might make progress towards your goals.

      • Just print the information here. I do not have any “goals” as you seem to think. I simply asked you to publicly reveal what you are using that makes so many people furious and how many decibels you are producing. Please, this is a public forum, I am not interested in knowing for myself but for all.

        • I appeared at 16 board of selectmen meetings about the festival and the plans. I produced comprehensive documentation that is still available for anyones review on the Town’s website.

        • Frank, the festival is not a grand conspiracy against you. If you’d step away from your computer for a minute and actually engage people in public non-digital, in-person forums, the answers are available.

          But, then you’d have to untether yourself from the message boards and your computer.

  8. Hi Jim,
    I remember very clearly when Jimmy Buffett and Third World played in 1987, as I was there too. Working for Alex Taylor and James Montgomery and The East Coast Funk Busters, whom Jimmy sat in with. Many things I said in my phone interview were either overlooked, misquoted or confused, as I was born in 1968. I have a clear and vivid memory of the events in our past here, The Crunch, Carly’s Concert in Menemsha in 1986, the No Nukes in the 70’s and The Horse Races…I grew up here and recall events that were great, I believe this is going to be great too…

  9. Looks like the Islanders are doing what we do best complain and if someone was having fun somewhere let’s try and stop it. Adam deserves a medal for putting up with all the islands log jam of conditions in order to do anything here and he’s doing it in the worst town on the island. Just look how easy it was to fix the school, police department etc.

  10. I attended the last music fest by Epstein and though it was very well managed, it had one serious flaw. The Island has a history of public concerts that do not have preferred seating. Someone had given me tickets, but I could not believe how far away from the stage I was. I also saw many of my friends in the front higher price section, and I could not even go over to them to say hello. I understand the economics behind preferred seating, but the Town of Tisbury really should not allow this type of class separation, based on who has connections or who has more money. It’s a public event, end the preferred seating.

    • Are you referring to the 2021 socially distanced seating at the Tedeschi Trucks shows? That was unavoidable to space people out and create a safe viewing environment.

      If not, a quick glance at the current beach road weekend site would show you that we’ve gotten rid of any reserved seating.

      There are upgrades available to people who want to pay for them but there is no reserved seating, and a general admission ticket can get you within 20 feet or so of the stage if you get there early.

      • I went to both of your shows, and there was a very long distance from the rear seating to the stage. Curious where you get this “20 or so feet from the stage” representation? Never before have I seen this disparity in seating on the Vineyard for any outdoor public concerts? If I remember correctly, the first show had 3 tiers of seating, and the most recent show 2 tiers of seating. When I say seating, I mean roped off areas. We already have private beaches, let’s not also encourage tiered seating areas for a small community. This is coordinated sponsored town event, and it should not have exclusive seating based on how much money one has. The Island has to support this endeavor, so let’s not further a class system at a public event like this.

  11. As far as I can tell Mr. Epstein has done his due diligence to put together a conscientious and professionally run event. Most of these squawking complaints are par for the course on an island that finds pleasure in being outraged. My only question is, how is it that some people in one breath are voicing anxiety about Covid and any public gatherings and in the next are cheering on an event that involves large numbers of people congregating? A bit of cognitive dissonance. However, hats off to Mr. Epstein for work well done.

  12. No push back here but find it interesting the aggressive advertising done on my local college station which is primarily non commercial WFMU

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