WVVY,93.7 FM, the Island’s fledgling community radio station, has struggled to raise funds since it began broadcasting last December, but tomorrow WVVY is going for it all with its first Aquinnah Music Festival.
The nine-hour live music fundraiser at the Cliffs in Aquinnah offers a dozen acts spanning American musical genres from rock to rap, Native American to bluegrass.
“Will this be the Island’s Gaystock or Woodhead? I have no idea. I know we need to sell 1,000 to 1,200 tickets to break even. We certainly want it to be an annual event,” organizer and treasurer Jim Glavin said last week.
The buzz is building, Mr. Glavin senses. “I have to admit I’m getting a real good feeling about it. I’ve heard as many as 5,000 could show up. We’ll either be really happy or really in debt,” he said. The open-air concert with lawn seating will be located on the circle in front of the Gay Head Cliffs.
A Brooklyn band, an L.A. band (The Billionaires, who grew up as an Island rock band) and other off-Island talent join Vineyard musicians Willy Mason, Nina Violet, Kahoots, Ballywho and the Black Brook Singers in nonstop performance from midday to the rising of the full moon over Aquinnah.
Food by Danielle Dominick of Scottish Bake House and Che’s Lounge will be available. Tickets are $20 reserved in advance, or $25 at the event.
Island graphic artist Laurie Miller has designed event T-shirts emblazoned with a sort of cheery medieval Gothic logo and the names of participating artists.
The town of Aquinnah has provided 4.5 miles of free parking along one side of Moshup Trail with continuous shuttle busses to the event, to supplement 200 paid parking spots at the town lot at the Cliffs.
Town officials and event sponsors have been meeting regularly over the past week to plan the event. “We think we’ve covered most of the bases,” Jeff Burgoyne, Aquinnah town coordinator said, noting that pets will not be allowed inside the concert ropes. One lesson learned from the Woodstock experience nearly 40 years ago is the need for restrooms: 10 rented Porta Potties will supplement town rest rooms and its four permanent Porta Potties, Mr. Glavin said.
“The event will open and close with the Black Brook Singers from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah),” he said.
The tribal singers come on at noon, followed by Sofi Thanhauser with vocals with guitar, then Ballywho’s bluegrass and Rosehips’ rock and alternative set, Mr. Glavin said.
“We want to get continuity and flow in the music,” he said adding that Willy Mason, Chorus of Arrows (Nina Violet) and Jemima James will perform in a 90-minute linked set.
Then rapper Rig1, a Willy Mason recommendation, is on before the Joel Zoss trio take the stage to play reggae, folk and blues with B.B. King roots. Kahoots comes with its largest-yet 10-piece band, then Brooklyn-based Amazing Baby, an eight-member rock band, tunes it up.
The Billionaires (Joe and Seb Keefe, Tim Laursen, Laura Jordan and Farley Glavin) will welcome the full moon before the Black Brook Singers wind things down around 9 p.m.
“It’s a big lineup and a lot of people should be playing that aren’t because of time limits,” Mr. Glavin said.
“We’ve had essentially no appearance fees, some travel expenses. Insurance is a big item,” he said.
“Our financial health rests on the grace of everyone on the Island. We are on air because of them,” he said.
The station began broadcasting last December only days before a low power FM license from the Federal Communications Commission would have expired, nearly eight years after the project was undertaken.
“We were down to the wire, then people started coming out of the woodwork with large and small contributions. Maria Danielson, our president, deserves the credit for getting the funds raised,” said Mr. Glavin, treasurer of Martha’s Vineyard Community Radio, Inc.
“This fundraiser is existential — and I mean that pragmatically, not philosophically,” he said, adding, “We believe that one successful fundraiser will carry us financially for a year,” he said.
The station program schedule, under program director Bob Lee, is on air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including about 70 to 80 hours a week of live programming. Its schedule of music, ideas, news and commentary is created and produced by Islanders. The homegrown schedule is supported by an outside package of programming, Mr. Lee said this week. The station is Webcast at wvvy.org and program schedules also are on the Web site.
He pointed to a two-hour music program called Grandma’s Basement, hosted by Island musician Willy Mason on Fridays between 4 and 6 p.m. In addition to music, “Willy has a farm and fish report segment with Tom Osmers, West Tisbury’s shellfish constable. It’s like radio from 50 years ago. Tom will call Ernie from upstate Maine and inquire about his mink farm or berry harvest,” he said.
Mr. Lee acknowledged reception can be a problem, “depending on wind and other interference,” for the 93.7 FM station. “That’s why we recommend listening on the Web. We are hopeful we can get a repeater, a device which increases power without increasing wattage,” he said.
“We’re in the middle of a great musical renaissance. We’ve never had a more bountiful crop of musicians who’ve grown up here and lured their friends to participate in the Island music scene, including the Aquinnah Music Festival,” Mr. Lee said.