Beach Road Weekend: ‘A beautiful thing’

Three days of music, rain, sun, and no lightning.


Updated, August 30

Beach Road Weekend — three days of music at Veterans Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven — wrapped up on Sunday with a closing set from soul artist Leon Bridges.

There was a broad range of music from the likes of indie-folk musicians Mumford and Sons to punk rock legends like Patti Smith.

The weather was a major concern going into the weekend, as rain was in the forecast for Friday, and lightning for much of the day Saturday. 

Adam Epstein, event promoter and Innovation Arts & Entertainment CEO, said that Friday was the most stressful day in his entire career because of the lightning. He said that they would have had to evacuate concertgoers if lightning struck within eight miles. But Epstein said that he was feeling relieved but also exhilarated that everything came together.

“The entire staff works very, very hard to deliver something special and exceptional on a level that has never been done here,” Epstein said. “And we showed what can be done when you work with a great partnership together with a town, with public safety, with Islanders and seasonal people, and guests from all over the world. It’s a beautiful thing …

“The value of seeing these families and friends gathered together, to listen to live music in a park, is exceptionally positive for this Island and this town,” Epstein said.

The promoter estimated that 11,000 people came out for Saturday’s festival, likely the most heavily attended afternoon of the three-day festival.

Still, police reported few issues arose during the event. 

Tisbury Police Chief Chris Habekost told The Times on Monday the total number of people at the festival seemed similar to last year. 

“Overall, the crowd management and policing of the event went well, with few issues,” he said. “One individual was placed into protective custody due to alcohol intoxication, and there were several noise complaints related to music volume, and a few other complaints related to truck traffic, loading equipment into the event grounds before the festival.”

There was a minor accident the day after Beach Road, on Monday afternoon during the breakdown of the festival’s setup. 

Worker Jose Borrero sustained a toe injury after the fork of a forklift, carrying a pallet, was accidentally brought down on his foot. Borrero was seen resting in a chair, and was administered IcyHot by a coworker. 

In good spirits while talking to the Times, Borrero highlighted a souvenir from his run-in: his detached toenail.


Day 1: ‘Ready for any weather’

Despite the gray and rainy skies on Friday, the crowds came out for day one of Beach Road Weekend. Festivalgoers brought their ponchos and rain boots.

Soul and country music singer Maggie Rose kicked off Friday’s lineup with a 12 pm performance.

After her set, The Times quickly caught up with Rose backstage.

“The cool thing about the audience was that they’re Island people, and they’re ready for any weather,” Rose said. “It was energizing to see people still out there, regardless of what Mother Nature had in store for us.”

Rose is already familiar with the Vineyard, and used to frequently visit during her childhood.

“I think the whole culture here is really cool,” she said. “The testament is people being pretty low-maintenance about the conditions today, and coming out.”

Other performers, such as Kevin Morby and the Head and the Heart, mentioned it was their first time on the Island.

“But I hope it’s not my last,” said the Head and the Heart’s Kenny Hensley.

After performances all afternoon from Kevin Morby, John Hiatt, Caamp, and the Head and the Heart, the largest crowds showed up for the final two acts.

The audience cheered as Patti Smith and her band arrived onstage, opening with a rousing rendition of the iconic “People Have the Power.”

“Mother Nature has been kind,” Smith said. “She’s given us rain for the trees … and she’s given us a little respite … if you’re good to Mother Nature, she’ll be good to you.”

Smith played fan favorites such as “Gloria,” “Dancing Barefoot,” and “Because the Night.” The crowd was also treated to a cover of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.”

After Smith left the stage, there was a 10-minute break before headliner Bon Iver. 

Bon Iver was on for an hour and a half, playing songs from all five of its albums.

The crowd was especially enthusiastic to sing along to the popular tracks “Skinny Love,” “Hey, Ma,” and “Holocene.”

The festival ended at 7 pm sharp, with performances from local acts taking place afterward on a smaller stage.


Day 2: ‘A beautiful thing’

Saturday at Beach Road Weekend, concertgoers ditched their ponchos and sweatshirts for sunblock and handheld fans. It was hot and humid, and all fears of lightning in the forecast dissipated as the sun came out early in the afternoon.

Headliners Mumford & Sons brought their high-energy brand of folk rock with hits like “Awake My Soul” and “Little Lion Man” to get the crowd going as the day turned to night. They closed out Saturday evening with “I Will Wait,” a romping ballad with Mumford’s iconic banjo twang. 

Other highlights of the day included a bit of a homecoming for Dispatch, and frontman Chadwick Stokes. Stokes recalled working as a camp counselor at Camp Jabberwocky (“It’s a wonderful place. Check it out.”) and about his first time playing Dispatch hit “Flying Horses” in Vineyard Haven in the ’90s. 

Dispatch also provided a land acknowledgement before their set, recognizing that they were on the land of the Wampanoag.

Other bands taking the stage on Saturday included Gary Clark Jr. and his bluesy guitar work; St. Paul and the Broken Bones and their signature soul sound, and the high energy of Sammy Rae & the Friends.


Sunday funday

The third and final day of Beach Road Weekend offered an eclectic mix of indie, soul, funk, and rock music, with fair weather and no rain in the forecast. 

The crowd slowly built over the course of the day in anticipation for the evening’s headliner, soul artist Leon Bridges. 

Cape Cod band Crooked Coast kicked off day three at 12 with a high-energy set, followed by the effervescent funk of Gregory Porter and his full band. 

Canadian indie pop band Alvvays (pronounced “always”) performed a dreamy set with songs full of synths and beautiful, haunting vocals from lead singer Molly Rankin. Rankin said it’s their first time visiting Martha’s Vineyard, and that they heard “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Larry David would be in attendance.

“Show yourself, Larry,” Rankin said. (David did not show himself). Performances included “In the Undertow,” “Archie, Marry Me,” and “Dreams Tonite.” 

When asked which band they were most looking forward to seeing today, several Island locals, like Kelly DeBettencourt and Anthony Esposito, said without hesitation “Dinosaur Jr.” The iconic Massachusetts rock band has been playing together since 1984. They played a grungy rock set for a crowd of fans. 

Russian-born American singer-songwriter and pianist Regina Spektor took the stage next, drawing a crowd of fans that knew every word to her quirky and at times humorous songs. She was the sole performer, playing a Steinway grand piano. 

Spektor greeted the crowd warmly. “I just got hit with a really delicious cloud of fried fish. This is the place,” she said of the festival. 

The “Us” songstress dedicated a song, “Après Moi,” to the peaceful resolution of the war in Ukraine. 

Japanese Breakfast, led by frontwoman Michelle Zauner, performed an avant-garde set marked by a beflowered gong, which Zauner played in their opening number, “Paprika.” The band featured a violin, a saxophone, the gong, and lots of synthesizers. 

Zauner shared a personal anecdote. “This is my first time on Martha’s Vineyard, and it’s absolutely lovely. Even though I’ve never been here, it’s very special to me because my now-husband was on a boat here when I proposed to him,” said Zauner, who married bandmate Peter Bradley in 2014. The singer-songwriter and musician is also the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir, “Crying in H Mart.” Their performance included songs “Be Sweet,” “Everybody Wants to Love You,” and “Road Head.”

Todd Michael (“Leon”) Bridges took the stage at sunset in all white, accompanied by backup singers and a multipiece band to perform for a completely packed festival grounds. 

“Martha’s Vineyard, it’s so awesome to share my art with you tonight,” said Bridges, who said that he was honored to be celebrating community and soul music on the Island. He took a moment in his set to speak to the audience, commenting on the courage it takes to be an artist and to share one’s innermost feelings and thoughts. For Bridges, it’s more than just the instruments and melodies; artistry is about being “strong enough to put strengths and weaknesses into songs,” he said. 

He played crowd favorites “Coming Home,” “Texas Sun,” “Beyond,” and the evening’s closer, a stripped-down guitar version of “River.” 

Local artist Willy Mason took the locals stage to close out a weekend of iconic artists and feel-good music.


Pre-festival warmup

Ahead of the weekend, the festival grounds were busy and bustling. Upwards of 200 workers came from around the country, some of them local, to assemble the festival grounds, with vendor structures, porta-potties, three stages, lighting and sound systems, a backstage artist lounge area, and a catering tent that provided three meals a day for working festival crew. 

Soundchecks took place at the festival grounds on Wednesday and Thursday, ahead of the weekend.

“It all comes up quick, and it all comes down even quicker. We’re building a small city,” said Joe Chambers, who provided public relations for the event. 

Before the weekend, Chambers said that decibel readings were being recorded from various locations nearby — both baseline sound levels and festival-volume sound levels — in an effort to protect the surrounding area from sound traveling from the mainstages. 

Following last year’s noise complaints from some residents, Chambers and Epstein said that they are taking additional measures this year. 

Chambers said that they changed the festival’s speaker distribution to try and control traveling sound. Instead of switching back and forth between the two mainstages like they did last year, this year crew will evenly distribute performance sound to all speakers from either stage, which Chambers hopes will create “a more balanced sound across all speakers” and throughout the festival grounds. Most speakers are positioned at the stages in a way that will spread the sound out around the entire field.


Eunki Seonwoo, Daniel Greenman, and Sam Houghton contributed to this report.


  1. Que the fun sponge whining about Epstein, noise, bring back masks, this being a super spreader event and degradation of “the island”.

    To everyone else enjoy this amazing event and best of luck to Adam and the merchants. Thanks for all your hard work you put into the community.

    • Mike– did you actually go down to
      the park and look before this event ?
      Will you go there and look now, to see how it
      is the day after ? Will you go down there and
      look in 2 weeks ? Two months ?
      Or are you just going to whine about something
      you won’t even bother to look at ?
      Go Look — My opinion is that every year this
      event happens it winds up better after a few
      weeks of work. I actually go there and look for
      myself– Believe me , if I thought it was worse for
      the wear, I would be on it.
      Go look !
      I spoke with my daughter today who grew up
      here and now lives on Maui, but still follows this
      publication. She was quite surprised to hear that
      Mr. Epstein did anything to repair the field last year.
      She heard he just left it a mess…
      Such is the scourge of uninformed or deliberate
      Again— go look for yourself.

  2. I actually worked the event last year and this, even after the rain the filed looked amazingly in good shape after yesterday and the field will be put back in better shape than ever. My kids grew up on those fields and they were nothing but sand , rocks and cigarette butts .Adam and crew have done an amazing job on all ends, if you don’t like music and good clean fun stop your whining, rent your house and leave for 3 days, best thing that has happened to MV in years

  3. Awesome event.
    The staff went above and beyond making sure everyone was safe and have an enjoyable time.
    Well done
    Mike B.

  4. Thirty percent of the island want this event stopped.
    That is ten percent more than voted for Trump.
    Trump lost, BRW won.
    The perils of mob rule democracy.

    • The voters Tisbury selected the Selectboard.
      If the voters did not like the Selectboard’s decisions they would petition for a recall.
      Will Carlos lead the way?
      Will he circulate a petition?
      Is he a Tisbury voter.

    • Carlos– you have a full year to try to solve whatever
      problem you may think exists. Or at least define
      what the problem is. I for one don’t think there is
      a problem.

  5. This event was no doubt an extremely challenging event to organize especially in light of the safety concerns, need to take abutters concerns into account, deal with needs of entertainers, traffic issues etc. and according to thousands of people it was pulled off without a hitch. Hoping Adam will consider embracing our small community again next year to grace us with a noteworthy event for both visitors and islanders. Great job.

  6. This event is well organized and well staffed. I went for first time on Friday this year and was so impressed by how well things were done! Good, safe, clean fun and amazing music! I was in town the next day taking to some Vineyard Haven merchants about our positive experience at BRW and they were excited and happy about it.
    Please people, lighten up! Beach Road Weekend is really super and it’s over before you know it. Stop the whining!
    Bravo to Mr Epstein and all who make it happen. I’ll be attending next year for sure!!

    • Your not from Tisbury, how do you know how the effects on surrounding neighborhood , and do you know or maybe not since you live off island the park and parking lot will be closed officially until September 1st but if the last two years are a guide, the park is out of use the fields for the rest of the fall, people from away always come up with great ways for islanders to turn our Haven into their reasons for leaving home.

      • The people in the surrounding neighborhood different opinions.
        The people in the surrounding neighborhood bought property at the Island’s choke point.
        Due diligence.
        Lucky you don’t have a place near the Fair.
        Do you enjoy your place for 360 days a year?

  7. I attended for the first time this year after avoiding previous years believing it would be a total mess. Wound up being anything but. Really well organized from bikes to buses to boats. Music was really good too!. I think the concert could be a great annual event for VH… in line with the illumination/fireworks in OB, the fireworks/parade in Edgartown and the fair in West Tisbury. Something to consider: a two or three week break between fair/fireworks weekend and the music festival. Maybe bus availability makes September impossible? I noticed all of the school buses seemed to be from the mainland…not sure why?

    • Unfortunately, the school committee has rejected our request to rent the island school buses. The requests have been covered extensively in the island newspapers including this one.

      September is wedding season on island and hotels are all booked up long in advance.

  8. I learned a few things over the past week from reading the MVTimes coverage of this event…
    1. When the Times wants to cheerlead and pass it as “news” they will do so. They barely counterbalanced their constant sales pitch of this event with barely a mention of the people that are opposed to it for solid and based reasons. Many of those people are year rounders and local voters.
    2. Consider the entire paper an editorial. The separation between the editorial section and news section has gone from being blurred to simply not actually existing.
    3. I’m going to the park today for basically one single reason: to see the condition they left it in.
    4. The concerts promotor has grown to learn not to counter point every single negative comment here and on social media. And to that, I say, Congrats Adam!
    5. I’m going to Trader Fred’s today after my trip to the field. RIP Fred

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