The 30th anniversary of the Vineyard Sound Island a cappella band will be celebrated on Saturday with an alumni concert at The Tabernacle in Oak Buffs, featuring three decades of band members.
“It’s my first year with the band and I didn’t know what I was getting into with all the history of this island,” said Wesleyan University student Ryan Dirgins. “But it was the best summer of my life.”
The concert will begin at 7 p.m. and will feature singers whose involvement dates back to the 1990s, including several founding members.
Throughout the band’s history, the Vineyard Sound has performed regularly throughout the island at scheduled events and impromptu gigs in the streets, beaches and parks. The band is made up of students who spend their summer on the island, singing and living together.
“Vineyard Sound’s mission is to produce family entertainment at a reasonable cost, while spreading joy along the way,” said Aidan O’Connell, a student at the College of William and Mary.
The singing group performs all over the island. — Marie Thibodeau
Sponsored by Vineyard Vines, the group is hard to miss. The dress code for their concerts calls for bright pastels and bright whale emblems. But the group said it is also integrating into the island community in a calmer way.
“We play on Chappy all the time and they have a city ordinance prohibiting amplified forms of music,” said John Durham, a recent graduate from the University of Connecticut. “That makes it a perfect place for a cappella. It reminds us of the days when you could have loud concerts and the island was full of small bands singing together outside.
When the group arrives in early June, they spend the first two weeks hunkered down, training six hours a day on the back porch of their home in Vineyard Haven. During these two weeks, they memorize and arrange dozens of songs.
“When we were practicing on the back porch all the time, neighbors would come over to hear us rehearse and see a free concert,” Mr O’Connell said. “Sometimes after finishing a song, we would hear distant applause through the trees.”
After mastering the vast repertoire, singers find themselves reliably booked by organizations and families, many of whom have listened to the Vineyard Sound for most of their lives.
“Most of our clients have been with us for years. They first saw us when they were kids and they made it a tradition to bring us back,” said Issac Mast, a student at William and Mary College. “They always make sure to tell us we’re the best iteration yet.”
Back in the day: Vineyard Sound in the early 90s. — Gazette Archives/Alison Shaw
Sometimes, after a long day of performing, the 10 young men who make up Vineyard Sound have said they like to walk down to the beach near their house on West Chop and look at the stars. And often, according to Mr Dirgins, the band will break out into song right on the beach, harmonizing late into the night, with no instrument in sight.
The Vineyard Sound 30th Reunion Show will take place on Saturday, July 30 at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. Showtime begins at 7 p.m.; tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Visit vineyardsound.org for tickets.