Island Music

“I remember,” Barbara Dacey told us, “going to the old 
Sea View bar and seeing the Skyland Band, with Judy Wyle 
as the lead singer. It was the early ’70s. I’ll never forget that big old dance floor. This band mesmerized me. The singer inspired me.” Barbara eventually became the voice of 
WMVY, where she is now programming manager. Barbara knows more about the history of popular music on the 
Vineyard than just about anyone. We wanted to know 
her favorite performers, events, albums, and clubs. “That’s too hard!” she told us. “There’s 
so many!” So we agreed to run just some of Barbara Dacey’s favorite Island music.

The Willing

I just think that Johnny Hoy, playing at the Ritz over the years, doing stuff like lying down on the floor – it’s the best. He always has a big smile. He’s so there, so rough and ready.

The Collaborators

Both Kevin Keady and Joe Keenan have new albums. It’s great to see Kevin grow as a musician. He’s a no- frills guy who lives on Chappy; what you see is what you get. He worked with Mike Benjamin on this album. Mike Benjamin is a great musician ­– the ultimate collaborator. Dana Radford plays with lots of different musicians, too.

That ever-changing, amorphous nature of the bands and the people who play in them is a big part of the Vineyard ethos, the thing that keeps the scene going. People are so willing to work together, help each other out.
The producers – people with studios, like Jim Parr or Don Groover – also play in bands, together (Beetlebung Steel Band) and separately
(Parr was once part of the Ululators).

The Veterans

Talk about perseverance and true grit, getting out, touring, staying true to their sound and their vision. Not only is Entrain a great band, but they’re generous. They haven’t released anything for a while, but Tommy Major (above) and band do still play, and they’re great to watch!

The Youngsters

Willy Mason of West Tisbury is still really young. He just released an E.P. and has an album coming out soon. Rolling Stone gave it a great review. I love his honesty and simplicity. He gets to the truth of things. When people like him and the Unbusted succeed, they inspire others, like The Outerland Funk Tribe. I think it comes from a combination of parental support, school support – Peg Regan, the principal of the high school, really encourages the Battle of
the Bands – and the help of other musicians: Kate Taylor always has students or recent grads in her band.

The First Family

The combination of people who are attracted to this place is some kind of lucky thing. I mean, how did all the Taylors and all the Simonses end up here? Those people inspired (and are still huge supporters of) this radio station, and of the local music scene: Carly and James and Kate and Liv and Hugh and Ben and Sally and Peter.
I have this memory, it’s almost like a dream, of James Taylor, playing at the Oak Bluffs School, sitting in one of those little chairs, dwarfing the stage. It must have been the late ’70s. There were maybe a hundred or two hundred people there. I remember the response; it was so intimate. It wasn’t like, “Here’s James Taylor,” but “Here’s a Vineyard musician, playing at the O.B. school. He’s one of us; aren’t we lucky?”
I think Carly’s concert in Menemsha – the one that aired on HBO –  was one of the all-time highlights of the music scene here. And Livestock in 1995 – what a great concert. It was so cool that Carly and James came together and did that for our benefit. It was a great Vineyard event. So exciting, as exciting as going to the Fleet Center, but here we were in this field on the Vineyard.
Kate Taylor is an absolute delight. She’s so positive, and has so much perseverance. Thoughtful in every sense of the word. Her new album, Beautiful Road, is one of the best albums to come out of the Vineyard. Her late husband Charlie Witham was such a big part of it. He wrote songs; they worked so hard to get it done. We’re so lucky to have it.

The Folk Singers

Cindy Kallet (left, pictured with Ellen O’Brien) lived on the Vineyard in the late ’70s and early ’80s. She wrote beautiful songs about the Island, captured the physical landscape: the bleak winters, the gorgeous summers. Eventually, she was one of the people who performed at the Wintertide Coffeehouse – Wintertide, in all its many places.

It was a moveable coffeehouse for years – in the stone church, the youth hostel, the Wooden Tent. Once it arrived at Five Corners, Tony Lombardi invited a lot of musicians to this singer-songwriter retreat, where they all got to play together, and work on their music and collaborate. There wasn’t anything else like it anywhere. Christine Lavin helped him bring it all together, and they recorded the results.

The Clubs

We have so many great places to hear live music. The Hot Tin Roof – I can’t tell you how important that place is – and all the clubs: the Ritz, the Rare Duck, Offshore Ale, The Atlantic Connection, the old Colonial, and of course, the Sea View.

The Bluesman

Maynard Silva has become a good friend. He’s one of those people who is so generous – always doing benefits. I love his humor, and his seriousness. He’s a great entertainer, and a great student of the blues. He was at the Roof last summer; he’s at the top of his game. Like much of the music community on the Vineyard, he still keeps a day job, painting signs and boats.