Music at Featherstone Summer 2024

Mondays and Fridays from June 28 through August 26.


Before Featherstone Center for the Arts was officially Featherstone, music graced its beautiful campus. “It is just the most glorious setting for music,” says executive director Ann Smith.

Musical Mondays began the summer before the complex officially opened, 28 years ago this coming September. “When we became Featherstone from Featherstone Farm, the first thing that was built was the stage. Frank Creney, who manages the pottery studio, built that stage with Kevin Keady, a wonderful artist on the Island,” Smith relates.

During COVID, Featherstone added Friday Music with Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish. So now, twice a week, people bring their blankets and picnics while children frolic on the lawn, rejoicing in an array of our local talent.

Musical Mondays kicks off on July 1 with a new addition to the lineup, the BlueSwitch Band. The four-piece blues ensemble, led by Jim Carnazza, presents authentic blues from the 1950s and 1960s. “We do slow tunes, and get people dancing with a lot of jump blues,” he explains. Among the band’s repertoire are pieces by Marion Walter Jacobs, a.k.a. “Little Walter,” Big Walter Horton, John Lee Williamson, a.k.a. Sonny Boy Williamson, Rice Miller, a.k.a. Sonny Boy II, and Lou Rawls.

Carnazza continues, “We go back to the original recordings and try to emulate those as best we can the way they did it. We want to have some fun, but we’re very serious about what we do, so we combine those two things.”

Next up on Monday, July 8 is the Jon Bates Band, whose extensive and diverse repertoire includes popular hits from every era, big band, swing, rhythm ‘n’ blues, Motown, classic and current rock, dance, funk, romantic ballads, Latin, disco, country, folk, singer-songwriter, show tunes, ethnic favorites, and more.

Mike Benjamin’s Grateful Dread performs the following week, on July 15. As their name suggests, Grateful Dread has married reggae with the iconic acid-laced psychedelic jam band. It all started when band members decided they wanted to play the Grateful Dead’s legendary music but with a reggae-style twist.

There will be a cool night of jazz on Monday, July 22, with the Stan Strickland and Joel Harrison Quartet. Longtime friends, legendary sax player Strickland and guitarist Harrison have played gigs on the Vineyard since the early 1980s.

On July 29, the Jeremy Berlin Quartet features off-Island guest gospel and jazz singer Theresa Thomason. Berlin says, “She’s really top-flight. Theresa has quite a varied palette. We’re doing some jazz Great American Songbook–type standards, as well as Nora Jones, Bobby Caldwell, Sting, and R&B. She’s fearless. I like to think of our trio as able to bend with the wind and go in different directions, so we’re game for it. Backing Theresa up is always such a pleasure, because she’s such a force, and has a way of making the songs her own.”

Referring to the six-piece Entrain, performing on August 5, Ann Smith says, “They are one of our most popular and probably the longest-running Island band, celebrating 41 years.” They describe themselves as epic in sound and kaleidoscopic in vision — a funky-world-jam-ska-reggae-rock stew with enough drums to sink a battleship.

On Monday, August 12, the Mike Benjamin Band, founded in 1995, will feature contemporary and rock and roll. As a 2013 M.V. Times article states, “[Benjamin] can get down and dirty with the blues or sweet and mellow with a ballad or pop song. He can channel Jimmy Reed or Robert Plant, Van Morrison or Jesse Colin Young, but mostly he is himself, a honey-voiced singer, guitarist, and songwriter.”

We skip a week before Musical Mondays’ last show on August 26, of rock ’n’ roll, contemporary, and folk with Jon Zeeman and Joanne Cassidy, who is a performer and voice teacher on the Island.

Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish will run concurrently on Friday evenings. However, due to another engagement, the Dukes of Circuit Avenue will kick off the series on Friday, June 28. The group describes itself as “not just any band, but a killer ensemble of vocalists and instrumentalists, with years of experience.” Among their eclectic playlist are songs by Marvin Gay, Michael Jackson, Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Tina Turner, and Louis Armstrong, to name just a few.

Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish will then pick up weekly from July 12 through August 23, continuing to thrill audiences across the Island as they have since 1991. Hoy says, “Featherstone is one of our favorite places to play. From our vantage point onstage, it looks like a lot of fun for the community. It’s a natural amphitheater, kids running around and dancing, their parents (some of whose weddings we’ve played) kicked back relaxing, hanging out on the grass picnicking, enjoying themselves with their families and friends.” He continues, “Also, it supports a couple of good causes. Featherstone is the greatest! They support all kinds of island arts in so many ways. We are very lucky to be a part of it!”

Looking at what’s in store, it’s enough to get your feet tapping and fingers snapping. Smith reflects on the summer lineup, “I think the range of the music is just really fantastic.” 

The 90-minute sets begin at 6:30 pm in July and 6 pm in August, with doors opening a half-hour before. Reservations open online at noon the week before the event. 

Tickets are $20 per person, with 50 percent of proceeds from each performance going to the musicians. For more information, visit