June 2015

By Diane Alter


Guitarist John Ripley-Stanwood of DCLA mesmerizes the crowd

Music motivates Phil DaRosa. That’s not surprising since DaRosa is an accomplished guitarist, bass player, singer, song-writer, producer, promoter and engineer. And it wasn’t a surprise when the ambitious DaRosa founded Martha’s Vineyard SOUND, an eclectic summer festival featuring an abundance of fantastic music, food and art.

Thanks to DaRosa, every July, Martha’s Vineyard becomes much more than the sum of its beautiful beaches, sensational sunsets and teams of tourists. For a couple of blissful days, music takes over the idyllic island. They are days poets would call magical.

“I’ve been producing outdoor events on Martha’s Vineyard for several years,” DaRosa told Dressed MV. “I wanted to create a community, family oriented music festival for all ages featuring all genres of music. I wanted share some amazing music from some amazing musicians with the masses. I also wanted to do it for a cause,” DaRosa added.

MV SOUND festival benefits Island Collaborative, which facilitates partnerships with MV civic organizations, local governments, businesses, nonprofits and individuals to bring much need-ed Island projects to fruition. “All projects fulfill the criteria of enhancing social, economic and environmental sustainability on MV,” DaRosa continued. “They’re projects Islanders want and need to help MV prosper.”

The environmentally and socially conscious DaRosa wants to grow MV Sound into an even more prosperous event. “A two-day experience simply sets the stage for what’s possible. I want to max out the capabilities and opportunities. The sky’s the limit.” DaRosa’s aim for MV Sound is to make it a go-to summer festival like Lollapalooza, SXSW, and Bonnaroo.

Featured at this year’s event are a clutch of distinctive and dynamic musicians who don’t play for critics, but for fans. All are extraordinary artists known for delivering original and memorable performances.


From Left to Right: David Saw, John Forte, Ben Taylor and Sophie Hiller on stage at the premier MV Sound Festival

2015’s big line-up includes: reggae singer with a conscience Kenyatta Hill of Culture; The Parkington Sisters, four siblings blessed with a rich, melodic sound; American roots band Dwight & Nicole; Mieka Pauley, who delivers a raw and edgy performance; award winning singer/songwriter/guitarist Ryan Montbleau; the engaging Will Dailey: hip-hop band Crooked Coast; indie rock band The Fruit Flies: the soulful Chandler Blues Band; and funk/hip hop band Lynguistic Civilians. Rightly representing MV are the island’s own musical treasures: Mike Benjamin; Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish; and Sabrina and The Groovers.


Singer/Songwriter Dana Williams will grace the stage at this year’s festival Photo provided by Ms. Williams

Also performing is Dana Williams. Dubbed a modern-day Ella Fitzgerald, Dana is a captivating 24-year-old singer/songwriter with a silky, smooth, timeless sound and commanding presence. Her mellifluous voice has a lilt that mimics pure contentment and joy. Dana’s comforting and swaying lyrics rock back and forth like a soothing cradle. No stranger to the stage, Dana has been in the spotlight all her life. In the fourth grade, she performed “Hard Knock Life” with Jay-Z for a TV special. Her song “Keep Me Waiting” is on the soundtrack for the Oscar winning film “Whiplash.” Music runs through her veins. Dana’s father, David Williams, guitar playing prowess has been tapped by music royalty such as Michael Jackson, Madonna and Whitney Houston.


It’s Electric! DCLA performing at night

“I’m excited to have tapped such an amazing lineup,” DaRosa said. Music gives emotions, like excitement, a voice. Taking to a fine tuned DaRosa, there’s no doubt where his voice comes from.

This year’s event will take place on July 11 and 12 at Waban Park in Oak Bluffs. Ticket information, updates and more can be found at www.marthasvineyardsound.com. “Anyone interested in donating funds or their time can contact me via the site,” DaRosa said. “Volunteers are very welcome.”

Credit for all photos in the article: Shannon Rynd-Ray Photography