The weather was perfect for a weekend in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Whether it was your first trip or 100th. For me, it was my first trip, but no better excuse to go than a mid-August weekend to see some great music.
The afternoon started with a surprise; I didn’t realize that opening the festival was Super Diamond, a Neil Diamond tribute band. Upon hearing the familiar songs, I ran over to snap some photos. They were thoroughly engaging, and it didn’t matter that they were on first on the main stage at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven. Everyone in the band was introduced with the last name Diamond which made it very Ramones-like and very entertaining.
One of the best parts of the Beach Road Weekend was the fact that there was a whole stage dedicated to local Martha’s Vineyard bands and musicians that not many people off the island would necessarily be familiar with. In between each band at the main stage, the MV stage was full of action all weekend long. After the sounds of Neil Diamond were finished blasting over the park, Rose Guerin took the stage with her band. In between the acts at the mainstage Guerin got to play most of the afternoon mostly with her full band but also a few solo songs as well. Her soulful voice filled the air, and it grabbed people’s attention. Then in between, she was hanging out in the crowd with the rest of the patrons.
Mason Jennings took the stage and played some low-fi solo acoustic songs. Good for a midsummer afternoon day. Next up was the North Mississippi AllStars, the southern rock band rocked the festival stage. A highlight of Saturday was seeing the music legend, Alejandro Escovedo. He has been touring since the late 70s and doesn’t seem to be ending soon. His full set of southern rock songs was a treat to see.
The local stage after Escovedo had the Dock Dance Boys. They had the most fun set of amusing pop-rock songs. After the fun set, the all-mighty Dispatch played the main stage. The funk-jam greats started off acoustic and then went into a full-blown jam. They were a definite treat to see as they don’t go on many tours these days.
After Dispatch, another fun local band fronted by Johnny Hoy took the MV stage. They played New Orleans’ style blues/rock. It was a definite highlight to headline the main stage.
To wrap up night one altogether, another legend John Fogerty who fronted Creedence Clearwater Revival and played the first Woodstock in 1969. He played a great retrospective set along with some amazing backup singers, and his sons played guitar and sang respectively. He played all his hits like “Centerfield” and then many of the CCR classics people love like “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Proud Mary.” It was the best way to end the first full day of Beach Road Weekend.
Right when you maybe thought who could top a lineup like what happened on the first day? Well, Sunday may have arguably been the fuller day with just as much great music as the first day. Grateful Web’s day started with the local group The Outskirts who hail from Vineyard Haven. They played some fun pop-rock music. After their set, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe played. Denson is an American funk/jazz saxophonist who used to be a part of Lenny Kravitz’s band; he also plays with the Rolling Stones and his own trio when he’s not with the Tiny Universe. After all of that funk greatness, the Outskirts returned to play the MV stage to keep the music going!
Next on the mainstage was Jewish reggae, rapper, and beatboxing great Matisyahu. After breaking the scene with his live album “Live at Stubb’s” back in 2005 and signing to Epic Records, he’s been a mainstay in reggae and dub music. He was a perfect fit for the weekend.
After his set, The Phil Darosa Project played the MV stage, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but there is so much local good music coming from residents of Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts! Darosa and his band we’re no different. They played a great set of rock as well.
Another fantastic funk band, Galactic, played the main stage. They filled the field with their blend of acid-jazz and jam styles to a full audience. They primed the crowd up for the local great Evan Dando (you may remember him from the Lemonheads) to play the MV stage. He had a great set of his songs, some acoustic that had the crowd’s attention.
Grace Potter was the next to play the mainstage. She rocked it and had a gigantic set for the late afternoon on Sunday. She played the piano and commanded the stage with her performance. She played a majority of songs that she plays with her band the nocturnals.
The Mike Benjamin band from Martha’s Vineyard was the last to play the local stage. They were another fantastic rock band. To top of his set, he even had a guest appearance with him on stage, the one and only Kori Withers (daughter of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bill Withers) who happened to be in town for a birthday party. She performed “use me” with the band. Having Ms. Withers there was a definite highlight of the whole MV stage all weekend.
Last but certainly not least, Phil Lesh & Friends headlined the mainstage. It’s a pleasure to have seen this man twice this past summer (first at Newport Folk Festival). As the sun went down on the Vineyard, Lesh & friends were the perfect soundtrack to a sunset. It’s tremendous that the man shares his musical talents with the masses after not keeping a steady touring regimen; after all, he is almost 80 years young.
They played great songs including starting the set with “Help on the Way” into “Slipknot!” and also playing one of my all-time Grateful Dead songs “Scarlet Begonias.” They also played “Deal” originally by Garcia. After writing this recap, I read that Beach Road Weekend was the last gig Phil Lesh played since he had minor back surgery. He is expected to make a recovery! Definitely feel fortunate I got to see him at this great music festival.
Also, news that the community enjoyed the festival so much they’re invited back to have it again in 2020! Until then, Summer music festivals come to a close, but there are a few fall ones to look forward to.