I really had no idea what to expect as I approached the Chilmark Community Center a little after 7 p.m. on Saturday night, but I hoped it would be like days of old when — as teenagers — we would make the long trek from down-Island to square-dance or listen to folksingers like Jesse Benton or David Gude. I was not disappointed.

The center has stood rock solid against unnecessary change throughout the puffery of the last four decades and it remains the same authentic, local, welcome-one-and-all place that I recall as a kid. Maybe more so. No admission, potluck, donations accepted — but not obviously.

Inside, the luck of the pot was good. I helped myself to delicious chicken, black beans, a slice of roast pork and a piece of cherry pie and poured myself — or squirted — a plastic cup of wine.

The stage was constantly occupied from the time I arrived until the time bed called me home (I missed a few of the last performers and have since been chided by those who stayed).

The jam is pretty informal, with musicians occasionally showing up at the last minute, so the list of performers is always somewhat free-verse, but here it is with apologies for anyone missed: Phil DaRosa, Isaac Taylor, Andrew Prouty, Erich Luening, Kevin Keady, Adam Howell, V.M. Smith, Keao Flux, Chuck Wealy, Steve Yeoman, Steve Hart, Walter Malsch, Milo Silva, Adam Lipsky, Jellybone Rivers, Marciana Jones, Greg and Mary (Harcourt and Wolverton), Noah Maxner, Angel Russell, DC LA, Jason Nichols, Alex Karalekas, Mourning Sons, Matty Ro, Tristan Israel, Paul Thurlow, Tom and Ella Buchert, Coco (Corinne de Langavant), and Music.

Music (that’s his only name, I asked) and Jason Nichols were among the first-time performers though you would not have known it, and they were abetted by well-known artists such as Phil DaRosa, Gregg and Mary (Harcourt and Wolverton), Milo Silva and Marciana Jones. I’d heard Marciana before, but always in the company of her sister, Nina Violet. This time she addressed the microphone solo and what came out was stunningly sweet and raspy authentic all at the same time. You could have heard a pin drop.

In addition to mesmerizing talent on stage, the show included great performances offstage. Children hung out with their heads on the stage or played tag and other games, sliding across the empty floor space in front that gave intimate access to the musicians. And these kids understood when to be quiet. The energetic stage crew were fun to watch as — between acts — they manhandled a piano or broke down a mike setup for a quartet and reset for a solo. The sound, was astutely (and minutely) adjusted by Steve Mack on the mix board.

The Chilmark Potluck Jam is organized by Alex Karalekas and advertised by his handmade shingles posted all over the Island (as well, of course, by Facebook and other ethereal means). Don’t miss it when it comes around again.


Gazette correspondent Sam Low lives in Oak Bluffs.