For the past several months, I’ve been helping out a struggling little room on the Vineyard called The Pit Stop. Once a tire shop, this building is now an 85 capacity listening venue where people like me can put on shows. For the past few weeks, I’ve helped my friend AK book and promote”Songwriter’s Night” on Thursdays. I’ve not had much experience doing this sort of thing, but oh boy, what an experience it has been!
Between location, competition, and lack of any marketing budget, The Pit has not seen too many crowded shows over the summer. We had hopes that September would bring the locals out of the woodwork, but last night, over an hour after “doors” at 8pm, the count on the audience was actually zero. The owner, myself, and the four musicians who showed up to play stood in a circle and talked, kept things light, despite certain disappointment. Rick O’Gorman, a long time Vineyard folk singer who was a last minute addition to the bill said, “I’ll play for you guys, I don’t care”. And play for us he did – old folk songs and originals about love and life, all fingerpicked and sung in a warm, soft, comforting voice.
Slowly, a few people trickled in and sat to enjoy the music. Some came specifically for Phil daRosa, so he jumped up after Rick. Another local, Alex Karalekas, followed with a song or two and then our visiting songwriter Seamus Galligan got on stage. Seamus is currently living in the New Bedford area, and he was previously performing in a duo with Ellie Cowan. He told us a bit nervously that he hadn’t played solo ever before. He proceeded to kill it, with beautifully written, thoughtful tunes and a simply angelic voice.
As we sat to hear the last of the planned performances, none other than the Vineyard’s own Brad Tucker literally did a duck and roll into the room. Never one to be shy (and admittedly a few drinks into his night), Brad got up and played a few songs. He was joined by Rick and then he accompanied Alex, for one of the best versions of “Broken Tree” I’ve heard in a while (if you’ve seen AK play, you know what song I mean). At this point in the evening, the “crowd” had shrank to about two people, but Brad grabbed a stand up bass and accompanied Phil for a few funkier tunes.
All told, about 19 people ended up coming out. And of course those who did show up were treated to something quite unique. Something you can feel in your bones. Something that certainly isn’t happening on Circuit Avenue. Something that people say they want on this island, but don’t seem to have the energy, time, or money to support. I keep wanting to call The Pit Stop a magical place…but it sounds a bit cheesy. Magic does happen there though. And I think anyone who’s been to a recent musical performance (and especially those who were in attendance for The Ape Woman rock opera last week) would agree.
Next Thursday we’ve got two well known Cape musicians playing for us – Will Evans of Barefoot Truth and John Beninghof of The Old Silver Band. Come to the show and see what I mean. Last night Brad Tucker admonished the audience, urging them to DO SOMETHING to help keep this room alive. Beyond needing people to fill the seats, we need volunteers, we need ideas, we need donations, we need positive energy. We need the word to be spread! And there are very easy ways you can help with that last part, right now:
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508 693 4219
As we’ve been saying since the start – Viva La Pit Stop!