The Chilmark Community Center was packed Saturday night, with every seat filled for the long-awaited return of the Chilmark Potluck Jam.

Community center was overflowing with music fans Saturday night. — Ray Ewing

“Tonight’s gonna be awesome!” predicted event organizer Alex Karalekas before the show, a simple prophecy but an accurate one.

Rows of tables decorated with candles and bouquets provided communal seating. Young kids congregated by the stage, with most spending the evening on their feet. The back room featured the potluck portion of the evening, with food and drink for all. Outside, freshly shucked raw oysters awaited. Many attendees, eager to contribute in some way, jumped behind the counter to shuck a few themselves.

Onstage, it was a folksy evening through and through, with the stage dominated by strumming singer-songwriters.

Mr. Karalekas started the potluck jam tradition 15 years ago with fellow Island musicians Brad Tucker and Willy Mason.

Emmett Athearn and Atlas Zack. — Ray Ewing

"Man, it's been awhile," he said by way of introduction before kicking it off with  a soft-rock rendition of Merle Haggard’s The Way I Am.

Dan Waters, West Tisbury poet and longtime jammer, looked right at home on stage with his miniature guitar. Others, however, noted the high stakes that performing for such an audience of hometown friends and seasoned musicians entailed.

“I am going to nervously perform a few songs,” said an artist introduced simply as JJ. Though he claimed to have missed a verse in his first number, the audience didn’t mind. JJ smiled broadly at the rousing applause.

Over 20 musicians took the stage during the evening with guitar performances leading the way. Ben Hughes broke this streak with a rare public performance of Illusions, his fantasy piano melody, before bringing on Josie Kirkland for a sing-along of All You Fascists Bound to Lose.

Chrysal Parrot, accompanied by soulful bongo rhythms, plucked whimsical folk tunes, while Peter Halperin, dressed in an olive-drab hat, shirt and suspenders brought down the house with his own ballads.

Jemima James performed with Lexie Roth, Willy Mason and Josh Campbell — Ray Ewing

Recent high school graduates Atlas Zack and Emmett Athearn contributed a set of power strumming acoustic rock songs.

A few novel groups were also formed during the show. Mr. Karalekas introduced the “Rick and George show,” featuring the guitar duo of Rick O’Gorman and George Davis. As Mr. O’Gorman belted out a rousing rendition of Jesus on the Mainline through his double-braided beard, Mr. Davis delighted the audience with virtuosic jazz-guitar leads.

Musicians Jemima James, Lexie Roth, Willy Mason and Josh Campbell also joined forces to perform together on stage.

Brad Tucker ended the show, playing both standing bass and guitar with Austin-based musician Peter More.

“Its pretty cool to be back,” Mr. Tucker said. “Fifteen years has it been since we started? Oh man.”

And with that, the jam played on.

More pictures.