Carly Simon, the celebrated pop songwriter and musical pioneer who began her musical career as a young singer on the Vineyard and lives here year-round, has taken a big step to give Vineyard musicians a way to stay connected with each other in the digital age. This week she launched a Web site, vineyardmusicall.com, as a way to help local musicians connect to each other.
Vineyardmusicall.com is a directory of musicians, created for musicians, by a musician. “I created the site partly for my own needs. For example, if I wanted to get in touch with a bass player, or a singer or any of a number of other Island musicians,” Ms. Simon said in an interview. “There are so many musicians, so many people on the Island, so many resources. And a lot of them don’t know each other,” she said.
“When I first started getting into music, it was in the very early 1960s. My sister [Lucy] and I would attend Friday night sings at the Chilmark Community Center,” Ms. Simon said. It was a time not only of learning music but learning music with others. Ms. Simon said she never forgot that. Today, live music is an integral part of the fabric that is Martha’s Vineyard, and there are a whole number of new and different talented musicians on the Island. Her private Web site is a first step towards helping musicians find out who is here and who is accessible.
“If I could know who to call, it would be helpful to everyone, to have a network,” she said.
Late last year, Ms. Simon reached out to those she knew to see if they would support such a Web site. “I got enthusiastic about the idea and started calling around. The response was almost 100 per cent,” she said.
The Web site—free to Island musicians who register—has close to 100 musicians already in place, and that number is expected to grow. To view the directory, a musician is required to have a login and a password, and to get one requires registering. It is the singer’s gift to the Island musical scene, and she is carrying all the costs associated with its design, creation and maintenance.
The Web site front page shows a photograph of a group of young singers, many recognizable members of the Taylor family on stage, taken in the 1980s. From left to right: Sally Taylor, Aquinnah Witham, Alexandra Taylor, Liz Witham, Ben Taylor and Isaac Taylor.
Vineyard Musicall opens with a letter:
“Dear Friends of Martha’s Vineyard,
“In a rented house on South Road in what was once ‘Gay Head,’ I borrowed my sister’s guitar. I began to strum and play the necessary chords that would last me well into the next decade. Lucy (my sister) and I sang together as we listened and learned from the players and singers who were our neighbors and friends at the Chilmark Community Center.
“‘Who was that guy with the twinkle in his eye? Did he play a keyboard or was it a banjo in his hands?’ This is something that would make a big difference as months and years went by.”
Knowing the musicians back then was important, she wrote.
“As the years have sped on by, I still know and love every one of these singers. Most of them are on this registry! I want to say such a huge thank you to all of you who have signed on or who will sign on. The Vineyard has always been, for me, such a haven for the birth of music, a home for music and musicians.”
Ms. Simon said the home page is intended to be the beginning for some musicians, as well as a way to stay connected for all others.
“I hope this Vineyard Musicall registry will facilitate its continual growth, and spurs on the meetings that take place on street corners and porches and community centers and cafes,” she wrote.
Among the many familiar Island musicians registered are John Alaimo, Jeremy Berlin, Don Groover, Gregg Harcourt and Mary Wolverton, Jemima James, Kevin Keady and Joe Keenan.