Performers and excited listeners fill the Strand Theater for first-ever Strand Jam.


A live music event at the Strand Theater in Oak Bluffs Saturday evening opened up a whole new world of possibilities for performances on-Island.

The event is the brainchild of Island musician and music lover Alex Karalekas, and was made possible with the help of Anthony Esposito, Phil daRosa, Graham Smith, and many others. It’s an offshoot of the Chilmark Potluck Jam that’s been a highly anticipated local event for 15 years. Right as the doors opened at 5 pm, droves of people began to flood in and take their seats to hear Woody Bottom, the opening act, play their hearts out. The acoustics inside the theater made for a crisp and clear sound, and with so many varied performances, the show illustrated just how conducive Vineyard theaters are as live music venues.

Following Woody Bottom, Adam Howell and the Queen of Cups took the stage. Emanuelle Woodford played some tunes, then Willy Mason grabbed the microphone and sat down at a synth to perform a new song he wrote. Karalekas hopped on after Mason was done with his solo act, and the two harmonized in a moving duet. Karalekas also showcased a song he wrote about his father, singing and playing the harmonica in the tune. Several other performers also got a chance to play some fresh music, including Jodie Treloar, Maryse Smith, the PickPocket Bluegrass Band, Isaac Taylor, Tristan Israel, and others.

According to Karalekas, the event exceeded his expectations, with every single performer bringing their A game. “It was a great collaboration — everyone who was involved gave it their all, and we totally nailed it,” Karalekas said. Karalekas explained that the Strand Jam served as an alternative to the Chilmark Potluck Jam, as the community center couldn’t accommodate the event that was planned for April 1.

Although nothing is set in stone, Karalekas said he anticipates the Strand Jam becoming a recurring event that draws performers from all corners of the music community, and utilizes a fantastic space that would otherwise be empty. “We are so thankful to the folks down at the Strand for opening up that space for us,” Karalekas said.

For Karalekas, providing a place for Island artists to play is at the top of his priority list. “Having these kinds of venues has allowed me to become who I am as an artist and a person,” Karalekas said. “I just want to give back to the community that was so good to me — we don’t have the Hot Tin Roof anymore, we don’t have national acts anymore; I want to bring that energy back to the Island.”