For his birthday on Monday, Phil daRosa asked for just one thing this year: a music festival. This Saturday he gets his wish, thanks largely to his hard work.
On July 12, Waban Park in Oak Bluffs will become the site of the Martha’s Vineyard Sound music festival, the first event of its kind. Local food vendors will set up tents, artisans will sell their crafts and children will get their faces painted and play with their families. And most important, 10 of the Island’s favorite musical acts including Willy Mason, DCLA, Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, John Cruz and Ben Taylor will rock the outdoor stage.
While the festival could never have happened without the help of several volunteers as well as the Island community, nobody has put in as much time and effort as Mr. daRosa.
“The festival idea come to me early last spring, about a year and a half ago,” he said on Monday. “I was driving by [Waban Park] and it was just like ding, I had this a-ha moment. It has been brewing for a while and then in January, I put some feelers out and we started to actually make it happen.”
Since then, the festival has been a full time job, albeit an unpaid one. Mr. daRosa estimated that for the past four months he has spent close to ten hours a day working to make his dream a reality, rallying vendors, getting approval from selectmen and organizing the event. Mr. daRosa has steered away from major corporate sponsors, instead giving local businesses the opportunity to advertise and sell their products.
All of the proceeds from the festival will benefit Our Island Collaborative, a non-profit that the festival will help launch, which will aid grassroots community projects across Martha’s Vineyard.
“The idea is to be an umbrella organization and also a connector organization to help facilitate projects based on sustainability that Islanders really want,” said Ann Quigley, a business partner and sustainability coordinator for the festival. “It’s not going to be a board of directors coming in and deciding what the Island needs for sustainability. It’s going to be based on ideas from the community. We want to be a resource to connect people because a lot of the best ideas come through collaboration with different types of groups.”
Although Mr. daRosa hopes that in future years the Martha’s Vineyard Sound will grow and bring in national headliners, he feels strongly that it should always be a family-oriented event that serves the community. He hopes parents will bring their children and set up picnics in the park, with live music as the backdrop. The festival is designed so that people can come and go throughout the day, enjoying Oak Bluffs and maybe even walking over to the beach between sets.
Music will not be the only live act at this year’s festival. Throughout the day, local artists will be hard at work in the park, with the pieces they create sold a the end of the day via silent auction. All of the proceeds will be donated to the Collaborative.
At 10 p.m., when the show in Waban Park comes to a close, the festival will continue at satellite venues throughout Oak Bluffs, as well as the Port Hunter in Edgartown. Cover charges will be discounted for anybody with a festival ticket, as the show goes on at the Ritz, the Dive Bar, the Island Bar and Grill, the Sandbar, the Lampost and the Port Hunter. Each venue will showcase a slightly different style of music, allowing festivalgoers to catch a little bit of everything.
“I’m hoping people will go check out the different stuff, like maybe see a few songs from one band and then walk two doors down and check out another bar and another band,” said Mr. daRosa. “I would love that to be the case. Ideally it would be cool to have a lot of flow in town.”
For Mr. daRosa and his team are aware that they are not the first organization to host a music festival on the Island, and that in the past these festivals have not always been successful. Despite the risk, despite the hours of unpaid work and financial limitations, everybody involved with the festival is thrilled for Saturday, when all of their hard work will finally pay off.
The Martha's Vineyard Sound festival runs from 3 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, at Waban Park in Oak Bluffs. Tickets are $30 for general admission and $100 for all access passes. Children under 12 are free. For more summer events, go to eventsmv.com.