The benefit concert at the Tabernacle on Tuesday will be quite the sight to see. More importantly, it will be the one to hear.
David Crohan, celebrated pianist and former owner of David’s Island House in Oak Bluffs, is performing with several other musicians to benefit Freedom Guide Dogs breeding and training facility in New York and the Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group.
The guide dogs hit close to home for Mr. Crohan, who has been blind since birth. This particular guide dog program is committed to helping people throughout New England for no charge.
“They make better things come from tragic circumstances,” said Mr. Crohan. “They specialize particularly in helping veterans who have come back from Afghanistan and Iraq and need dogs. They’ve found a way for one man who lost his sight and his hands to use a guide dog for help.”
The Cancer Support Group is a more local outlet for charity. “I’ve been here for so many years,” said Mr. Crohan. “I know people that have been in need and have gotten tons of support from [the group.] It’s a good cause, and a local cause.”
With community on his mind, Mr. Crohan excitedly awaits the benefit concert that will feature the talents of many musical friends and also a handful of talented young performers.
The youngest of that group is Caroline Miskovsky, who lives just outside of San Francisco, Calif., but has been summering on the Vineyard all her life. Caroline is an accomplished singer in the Bay Area musical community, where she has performed as a member of the prestigious San Francisco Girls’ Choir and as one of the youngest members of Chorissima, the professional touring sect of the Girls’ Choir.
Caroline has seen Mr. Crohan perform and remembers feeling quite moved. “A lot of people with full sight couldn’t do what he does,” she said. And she’s excited to test her vocals in the Tabernacle. “I’ve never sung in the Tabernacle, though I’ve seen Livingston and Kate Taylor perform there. I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.
On the older end of talented youth, Islander Jenna Lambert and former Island resident Dana Williams will also take the stage. Ms. Lambert sang in the Minnesingers, a traveling performing group at the regional high school. She has been rehearsing with Mr. Crohan over the past week after shifts at the Chilmark Store.
Ms. Williams has performed with Michael Jackson, courtesy of her late father, David, who played guitar for the superstar for 30 years. She attended the Tisbury School as a kid and now lives in Los Angeles.
“I want these young artists to have the same thrill that I had when I first performed in the Tabernacle almost 50 years ago,” said Mr. Crohan.
The second half of the concert will be more of a tribute to times past than an exhibition of music to come. Mr. Crohan will join longtime friends for a lineup including 1950s doo wop music, a genre the pianist said he has yet to master. Beloved Charleston guitarist Tom Billotto will take the stage for some songs before Merrily Fenner of the local Chickie Babies Band joins to form a jamming trio. Sue Smith and Janice Syslo, the remaining Chickie Babies, will also take the stage for some final energetic numbers.
“David’s always doing charitable things. That’s what makes him so special,” said Ms. Fenner. The two met when Ms. Fenner and an old singing group performed at David’s Island House, Mr. Crohan’s restaurant and piano bar that was a landmark spot on Circuit avene. “We opened one night and had so much fun singing and it was so successful that we ended up singing for nine more years,” she said.
Ms. Fenner is excited for the show, and because she’ll be with her dear friend Mr. Crohan, she won’t have any nerves to slow her strut on stage. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We do whatever comes naturally. We just have fun,” she said.
Before another round of rehearsals on Tuesday, Mr. Crohan said, “It’s going to be a lot of fun, a lot of love, and some very, very good music.”
Tickets for the David Crohan July 24 benefit concert cost $20 and are available at the door at the Tabernacle and online at mvcma.org. The show starts at 8 p.m.