Wired for Sound – The Martha’s Vineyard Times

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In addition to the big bands performing at Beach Road Weekend, other national touring bands will be performing on stages across the island this summer, particularly at The Loft. Owned by island restaurateur JB Blau, the Loft can accommodate around 400 people, unlike the usual hundred that other island venues can accommodate. And it’s wired for sound, so to speak. The musicians show up with their instruments and equipment, and the rest is there for them.

Adam Epstein runs Innovation Arts & Entertainment, which produces Beach Road Weekend (BRW), the MV summer concert series and additional shows at The Loft – rented out at a reasonable rate, according to Epstein.

“We always wanted to have a home music room,” Epstein explained. “It’s really hard to do live music at Old Whaling Church and PAC. It’s expensive and difficult to produce, we have to rent a lot of equipment. It used to be that there were tons of places with great sound equipment and systems, but those days are over. Now the groups must bring their own. It’s a burden, and we really wanted to have a space where you don’t have those barriers, where people enjoy the experience, and it’s reinforced because they can focus on their performance and not how which they have to get there.

The Loft musical series started last weekend and continues until 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 will open 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 many more will take to the stage. Another benefit of the Loft shows is that island musicians serve as the opening act for many touring bands, providing local music makers with a 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 can’t wait to do it again. They will headline July 18 and open for Brett Dennen on July 21.
“This is the only site on the island that tracks the Hot Tin Roof and Atlantic Connection. The sound here is pretty much the best, both from the audience’s point of view and also good sound for the band on stage. It’s the only venue dedicated to bringing national and local bands to the island,” Samuel said. “The Hot Tin Roof then Outerland then Nectars… when that disappeared there was a big void for a space that could hold a big enough crowd for national acts. We are very excited about what Adam has done at the Loft and grateful that he created this space.

Samuel says places like the Ritz and Port Hunter are “super fun to play, and they draw a big crowd,” but they don’t have monitors, microphones and sound equipment on hand. At the Loft, he says, it’s a much simpler experience.

Musician Rose Guerin is on double duty this summer, performing at venues while 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 arrived on the island, and he hired her this year to organize local musicians, inviting them to play at the Loft.

“I was talking to her about our goals, and she and I started talking last summer about how I didn’t have a lot of connections within the local music community,” Epstein explained. “She has a very good relationship with Island musicians and has dedicated her life to music. It makes sense for her to be that advocate and partner to connect with this music scene. I need to earn the trust of these musicians, and we are working very hard to achieve this.

Guerin said when she first sat down for an in-depth conversation with Epstein, it quickly dawned on her that he was giving the community something it had been missing for years – a place “dedicated to the listen to music”.

“This island is full of exciting songwriters and creators looking for a showcase for the original music they write, and the Loft will become the place where they can do that,” says Guerin. “I hope 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 of a festival like Beach Road Weekend, where some of the best bands in the world are brought to our doorstep?

Epstein said whether 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 have fun, and we think we’re getting there. We wanted to cast a wide net and show it to the musicians, and let them know that we’re here and that we’re striving for their provide a forum for them to do their best work. Come to the Loft and listen to some great music. It’s going to be a great summer.

To see the full list of acts, visit mvconcertseries.com/events/all. The Loft is upstairs at 9 Oak Bluffs Ave. at Oak Bluffs.

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