Roots Icon Taj Mahal Hooks Pop Collaborators for Album

The laugh is still that down low rumble of thunder and a box car about to go out of service, and blues-folk legend Taj Mahal laughs a lot. It’s not just a survival strategy for the guitarist who burst into public consciousness in the sixties, but more the reflection of a love affair with life that has informed the roots icon’s journey through the shifting tides of American music over the last four decades.

Newfoundland’s Great Big Sea Plays it the Way it Was, But Better

“Newfoundland is a beautiful, dangerous place,” laughs Great Big Sea’s Sean McMann, about the locale that forged his band’s sound. Part shanty reel, part chiming pop, part sweeping folk, ten albums in, the little band from the island that was a shipping and fishing outpost between Mother England and Canada has let its isolation protect their individuality.

Cruz Lines: Entrain Original Warms Up Music Fans From Hawaii to Vineyard

Touring musicians are supposed to say they like the venue they’re about to play.

John Cruz and the Island?

You can’t shut him up.

“Yeah, I was in Amherst at University of Massachusetts and a friend I gigged with always summered there and told me the Vineyard was perfect for my music,” the Hawaiian born performer songwriter said by phone this week from Oahu.

“Two things kept me there. One, I fell in love with the place and, two, the bonito, man. I fell hook, line and sinker for fishing bonito and the derby.

Homegrown Festival Fills Cliffs with Music Heard by Too Few

Jim Glavin had a wonderful 60th birthday party on Saturday night. He was hoping more of his friends would show up, but the estimated 800 who attended the first Aquinnah Music Festival made Mr. Glavin’s 60th birthday magic. “I see a lot of happy people out there,” he said on Saturday night, looking over the lawn at the Aquinnah Circle.

Jazzing Up YMCA Capital Campaign


Echoes of the Roaring Twenties (think Cotton Club meets The Great Gatsby) will surface this Sunday, August 3, at the Starbuck’s Neck home of Susan and Jim Swartz when Vince Giordano and his 11-piece Nighthawks jazz band serenade at Sunday Brunch And All That Jazz, an inspired fund-raising idea from noon to 4 p.m. to benefit the YMCA.

It’s the Rhythm of Life: Students Do Music Therapy at Windemere

Three questions came to mind as I headed out this past Friday to see Berklee College of Music students and faculty work their therapy magic on the Island. One, can you ever get high school kids to sit around and pay attention? Two, is there a career in music therapy? And three, can nursing home residents carry a beat?

The Rap (Rhythm and Poetry) on Ben

It was Sunday afternoon, deep underground in the sub-basement studio of community radio WVVY, and they were having what one of the flustered on-air staff called “real extreme technical difficulties.”

The monitor outside the studio, an ancient Aiwa radio cassette, was not picking up any signal. Hurried phone calls were made and the suspicion was confirmed: the station was not broadcasting the program, although it was apparently going out okay to a small number of online listeners.

Sunday in the Pub With Jazz: Offshore Music Lovers Are Nuts for the Improv

When jazz crooner Jerri Wells is finally coaxed up to the front of Oak Bluffs’ Offshore Ale by Eddie (Pepé Caron) Larkosh for a rendition of Do You Know What It Is to Miss New Orleans? she does not stick to the script for long. She delivers a few bars of the prescribed number then, like some sort of thief sidling past a security guard, hums her own improvised segue and ducks into the second verse of A ll Of Me, the Billie Holiday version, leaving the band to scramble after her.

Jemima James Goes from Pop to Fiction

The lines sprang into Jemima James’ head, complete with melody, sometime in the 1970s: “Raised in a home, his back got no bone.” The rest of the song, Billy Baloo, soon followed.

“I just liked the way it sounded,” she said, sitting in the wind outside the Scottish Bakehouse in Vineyard Haven this week. Though the story didn’t pair with reality, she found that changing the words messed with the tune. And she trusts the songs that arrive this way.

Island Boys Become L.A. Billionaires With Pop Release Really Real Forever

Tim Laursen, who writes the majority of the lyrics for The Billionaires, looks through his screen porch out at the woodland behind his family’s Vineyard Haven home, and tries to explain his song-writing method.

“Okay, popping into my head right now, wood,” he says, humming a tune and then seamlessly cranking out a lyric: “Must be romantic cutting wood by hand/Put down the power tools and give me back the land.”