Along with the major acts coming to play at Beach Road Weekend, there are other national touring acts that will hit Island stages this summer — especially at the Loft. Owned by Island restaurateur JB Blau, the Loft can hold approximately 400 people, as opposed to the usual 100 or so other Island venues can accommodate. And it comes wired for sound, so to speak. Musicians show up with their instruments and gear, and the rest is there for them.
Adam Epstein heads up Innovation Arts & Entertainment, which produces Beach Road Weekend (BRW), the M.V. Summer Concert Series, and the additional shows at the Loft — rented at a reasonable rate, according to Epstein.
“We’ve always wanted to have a home music venue,” Epstein explained. “It’s really hard to do live music in the Old Whaling Church and the PAC. It’s expensive and hard to produce, we have to rent a lot of gear. In the old days, there were tons of places with great equipment and audio systems, but those days have gone away. Now bands have to bring their own. It’s a burden, and we really wanted to have a space where you don’t have those hurdles, where people enjoy the experience, and it’s heightened because they can focus on their performance and not how they have to make it happen.”
The Loft music series began last weekend, and continues through the end of August. Neighbor plays the Loft on July 3, followed by Dalton and the Sheriffs on July 6, and Crooked Coast on July 7. Local musician Rose Guerin opens for Neighbor, and Phil da Rosa will open for Crooked Coast. Familiar bands like the Black Eyed Susans, Missis Biskis, the Jaywalkers, Dock Dance Band, Katie Mayhew-McMahon and Sean McMahon, and more will take the stage. Another benefit with the Loft shows is that Island musicians serve as opening acts for many of the touring bands, giving local music makers that positive live playing experience. On nights when there is no national act, two local bands will play at the Loft.
Miguel Samuel’s band Wolftrap played last summer at the Loft, and are looking forward to doing it again. They’ll headline on July 18, and open for Brett Dennen on July 21.
“It’s the only venue on the Island that is following the Hot Tin Roof and Atlantic Connection. The sound in there is pretty much the best, both from an audience point of view and also great sound for the band on stage. It’s the only dedicated venue in bringing national and local bands to the Island,” Samuel said. “The Hot Tin Roof and then Outerland and then Nectars … when that went away, there was a big void for a space that would accommodate a crowd big enough for national acts. We’re very excited about what Adam has done at the Loft, and grateful for him to make this space.”
Samuel says places like the Ritz and Port Hunter are “super-fun to play, and they attract a great crowd,” but they don’t have monitors and microphones and sound equipment on hand. At the Loft, he said, it’s a much more hassle-free experience.
Musician Rose Guerin is on double duty this summer, performing at venues while also organizing the local musicians who will be part of Epstein’s summer concerts. Guerin and Epstein became friends a few years ago when BRW first came to the Island, and he hired her this year to organize local musicians, getting them in the lineup to play at the Loft.
“I was talking to her about our goals, and she and I started talking last summer about how I don’t have a lot of relationships within the local music community,” Epstein explained. “She’s very well-connected to Island musicians, and she’s dedicated her life to music. It makes sense for her to be that advocate and partner to connect to this music scene. I need to earn the trust of those musicians, and we’re working really hard to do it.”
Guerin said that when she first sat down for an in-depth conversation with Epstein, it was quickly clear to her that he was offering the community something that it’s been lacking for years — a venue “dedicated to the listening of music.”
“This Island is full of exciting songwriters and creators that are craving a showcase for the original music they write, and the Loft will become the place for them to do that,” Guerin says. “I’m hoping that people can see how blessed we are to have someone to give us this opportunity. Change can be exciting if you take a chance and get on board. I mean, honestly, how many communities can boast a festival like Beach Road Weekend, in which some of the best bands in the world are being brought to our doorstep?”
Epstein said whether the local bands play at the Loft or not, they want to make sure they get everything they need to have a great night. “We want them to come out and play and really enjoy themselves, and we think we’re getting there. We wanted to cast a wide net and show it off to the musicians, and let them know we’re here and we’re making an effort to provide a forum for them to do their best work. Come out to the Loft and check out some great music. It’s gonna be a great summer.”
To see the complete list of acts, visit mvconcertseries.com/events/all. The Loft is upstairs at 9 Oak Bluffs Ave. in Oak Bluffs.