There are many moving parts to Tristan Israel. For 23 years he has served as a selectman for the town of Tisbury. For seven years he has worked as a county commissioner. He is a landscaper by trade and in the Vineyard music community, he is a nearly constant presence.
At seven o’clock this Sunday evening, Oct. 7, Mr. Israel will have a release party at the Pit Stop in Oak Bluffs for his new CD, The Sound After the Flash. The CD includes numerous contributions from Paul Thurlow and violinist Nancy Jephcote.
“It is as much a work of Paul as it is me,” said Mr. Israel last Tuesday afternoon.
Mr. Israel sings and plays the guitar. His finger-picking style comes out of a time in the 1960s and 1970s when sweet finger-picking guitar and a solo voice were the foundations of the contemporary folk scene. Mr. Israel’s voice is raspy and guttural, with hints of tenderness, particularly in his ballads.
Mr. Thurlow and Ms. Jephcote’s roles are significant. Mr. Israel said that in his previous CD, Room Full of Dreams, the intent was “less was more.” In this latest endeavor, though, Mr. Thurlow accompanies Mr. Israel on everything from electric bass to banjo, penny whistle and keyboard. Ms. Jephcote sings in addition to playing violin.
For those who have watched Mr. Israel on the Island in recent years, the musical relationship he has with both Mr. Thurlow and Ms. Jephcote has deepened. On each of the songs, the musical conversation represents each of the artists individually as well as a collective. Their work together is tight. A man of many talents, Mr. Thurlow also recorded and engineered the 15 tunes.
Mr. Israel writes his songs with a deliberate intent to share an experience or a thought following the experience. The song titled What I Know is about relationships. Reunion was inspired by a school reunion.
The title of the CD is taken from one of the songs, Mary, and it refers to the summation of an experience, not just the initial flash. For example, just as thunder follows lighting, all events are often followed by something new that is both unlike the initial event but also the product of it. On one song, Mr. Israel shares the experience of having been afflicted with and overcoming Hepatitis C, a misunderstood virus that deserves more attention, he feels. In the tune called Home, he writes and sings about a better life in sobriety, and the comfort zone one finds with experience.
Most of the songs were written within the last two years. This stop on Mr. Israel’s musical journey shows how he is in a different place than he was eight years ago when he released his last CD.
This writer’s favorite song is Maynard, which pays tribute to Maynard Silva, a local blues musician who was celebrated on-Island and off for his music, his personality and his wisdom. Maynard Silva died in 2008 of cancer. He was 57 years old. Mr. Israel’s song honors his friend, and how the late blues singer was able to rise above the adversity of his disease and still be a kind and generous soul, still make his music, still maintain an attitude of hope for himself and others all the way to his death.
Mr. Israel’s music, with help from Ms. Jephcote and Mr. Thurlow, is a wonderful gift to the local music scene. Other collaborators include Allen Whiting for providing the cover art, and Anthony Esposito for providing both the photography and design.
The Pit Stop is located on Dukes County avenue, near Tony’s Market.
For more information call 508-693-4219 or visit pitstopworkshop.org.