Waban Park last Saturday was reminiscent of days when folk music swept the nation and outdoor concerts became legendary events representing a social movement of peace, love and community.
People lay in the grass, kids ran around and blew bubbles, and many local bands played short sets, including Willy Mason, Nina Violet, and the duo Jemima James and Dan Waters.
Rob Myers of the band Kahoots and Michelle Jones, a local musician and the mother of many musicians, organized the concert they called Free Fest. The show was originally going to be a fundraiser. “But then we thought, let’s just make it free. Free, free, free.” said Ms. Jones.
Nearly all the performers knew each other since many of them have been performing on the Vineyard for years. And the community watching was also an Island crowd. This was appropriate since the idea of the concert came from the Chilmark Community Center potlucks that have brought Islanders together in the off-season for the last several years, said Ms. Jones.
“That’s the same kind of community that we were hoping would happen here, and it certainly has,” she said.
Two of Ms. Jones’ daughters performed sets on Saturday. Ms. Violet sang a solo set accompanied only by her electric guitar, while Marciana Jones fronted a band called Marciana Jones and the Attorneys.
“Excuse me while I listen to my daughter’s set,” said Ms. Jones as Nina Violet took the stage.
“I think Oak Bluffs has incredible potential and amazing history,” said Mr. Myers, picking up the conversation. “There’s so much talent to be offered [from the Island community].”
There were certain costs associated with holding the concert, including obtaining a permit from the Oak Bluffs Park and Recreation Committee to have amplified outdoor music. To reduce costs the organizers used their own amplifiers and musical equipment, decided not to rent a port-a-potty (it was only a four hour concert), and encouraged vendors to pay $20 to have a booth selling various wares by the side of the stage.
The vendors were Island artisans and on display were handmade cups and bowls, pottery, jewelry, and handmade earrings.
“We were hoping people would come together and we were hoping to make something happen in Oak Bluffs,” said Ms. Jones upon returning from watching her daughter perform.
Looking out at the people enjoying a perfect afternoon of listening to music it was evident her wish had come true.
Ms. Jones and Mr. Myers are planning for another concert in Waban Park to take place in early August.