The Tivoli Ballroom, opened in 1901 and replaced by the old town hall when it was torn down in 1964 (it was where the Oak Bluffs Police headquarters is today) was Oak Bluffs’ last pure musical venue from 1915 to 1931. Band leader Will Hardy brought his six-piece Novelty Orchestra here from Worcester, and placed the Tivoli on the map as a prime spot for traveling dance bands and orchestras.

Mr. Hardy the piano player was also a composer, and his grandson Sterling Smith recently donated 14 booklets of sheet music, 11 original music manuscripts and photographs of Mr. Hardy and the ballroom to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum last year. Some of those early tunes included waltzes with favorites Vineyard Isle, That Wonderful Island of Mine, Here Comes the Sankaty with My Best Girl on Board and his biggest hit, Tivoli Girl. There have been letters to the Gazette over the years extolling how wonderful it was to stroll Circuit avenue and still hear music from the Tivoli. Many have memories of the much-lauded Mooncusser and Unicorn coffeehouses where so many popular, bold-faced folk artists played. Of course, there continues to be great fascination with the Fall Best Fest Parade and its featured Extraordinary Rendition Band.

Last Saturday, thanks to the efforts of many and the leadership of music man Phil daRosa, Oak Bluffs was feted with the first Martha’s Vineyard Sound Festival, a family-friendly, delightful seven-hour celebration of the Island’s music scene featuring 10 bands. Alas, spending the weekend in a losing battle with a summer cold, I was only able to drive by the park a few times just to get a sense of it.

There’s only one way to describe it to my contemporaries: it was a love-in, something that we lost in the 60s. Families and food, music and art, a happy, colorful collaboration of a diverse group of folks enjoying a chamber of commerce day in our fabulous, oceanside park. Music that harkened back to the folk songs of old, covers of popular favorites (including hip hop), finger-snapping and toe-tapping to music from rock to jazz — an absolutely perfect Vineyard mix, combining and culminating into an artistic success.

Singling out the names of all who contributed would take more than my word count allows, but hats off especially to Phil daRosa’s cohort Ann Quigley, graphic designer Jesse Hayes and WMVY’s official new morning person Jess Phaneuf. It’s worth mentioning that the park was spotless on Sunday by 2 p.m. Phil himself was helping to remove the fencing. Something tells me the banner that was hanging on the Strand last week is going to become a collectible sold for big bucks at auction for the Island Collaborative, a non-profit the ambitious young folks have established. The passion of a few benefited us all — and here’s hoping for the Martha’s Vineyard Sound Festival II.

Later this summer MV Soul Concepts is producing a three-day mini fest and conference, from August 8 to August 10, and plans are brewing for the first Vineyard Soul Fest on August 23 and 24. Oak Bluffs — the only Island town with its own song, The Oak Bluffs Galop, should be the music capital of Martha’s Vineyard. (Menemsha is an area of a town, for those most discerning.)

Susan Klein presents a concert of stories at Featherstone Center for the Arts this evening at 8 p.m. It is entitled Mythology and Folklore from a Woman’s Perspective, and tickets at the door are $25. It is recommended for those high school age and up.

This weekend is the annual Douglas Peckham art show at 56 Pennacook avenue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault speaks on the Civil Rights movement on behalf of the MV Museum at the Federated Church on Tuesday, July 22, at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $12 for non-members and $8 for members. Charlayne will share reflections of her book, To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement, which begins with the election of Barack Obama. Her talk includes the Vineyard’s involvement with the movement, how the local NAACP was formed and her personal recollections of the times since the 60s. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

The All Island Art Show is Monday, August 4, at the Tabernacle this year. If you’d like to participate, you can call 508-693-0371 or go to

I have sheet music for The Oak Bluffs Galop — and will happily share a bottle of wine if anyone would play it on a piano for me.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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