There are plenty of sounds I associate with the Vineyard. A few are annoying (motorcycles without mufflers and loud cell phone conversations) but most are enticing: sea gulls calling, waves crashing on the shore, the bells of the Old Whaling Church peeling, and children laughing. And lest I forget, the call of, “Your table is ready!” at Sharky’s Cantina.
One of my favorite sounds is named after a sound that can’t be heard. Sound confusing?
The span of water separating Martha’s Vineyard from the Elizabeth Islands is called Vineyard Sound. When I hear that name, however, I think of the melodious tones of the a capella singing group of that name that graces the Island every summer with songs and good times.
Begun in 1992, The Vineyard Sound consists of a group of college students, changing each year, who summer on the Vineyard and literally sing for their suppers. The 2009 edition consists of ten gentlemen who will perform four nights a week at locations around the island.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard them. My wife and I were simply strolling the streets of Edgartown one sultry summer night back in 1994. In the distance we heard harmonizations that could be aptly described as enthralling. Up Water Street came the members of The Vineyard Sound like vocal Pied Pipers leading a large band of followers who had been caught up in their magical sounds. Soon we were among them.
The makeup of the group has metamorphosed many times over the years, but the quality and style remain consistently virtuosic. Each year, they manage to recruit an incredibly capable, charismatic crew of collegians. They sing classics and current tunes, both funky and funny. An evening with this troupe will have you laughing, toe-tapping, and maybe even joining in.
Warning: Take in a single concert and you’ll want to hear them again and again. Picking up one of their CD’s, always available at their shows, is a proven antidote to Vineyard Sound withdrawal!
Image courtesy of The Vineyard Sound.