Friday, 24 April 2009

Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard isn't a grape growing winery owned by a cuddly old lady called Martha, it's a small island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, inhabited by a fascinating mixture of artists, musician, hippies, fishermen, gardeners and celebrities. The geek in me notes that it's also one of the few places in the world that has a possessive apostrophe in it's name. Apparently there are only 5 places which do in the USA, and in the UK we have Bishop's Castle, Bishop's Stortford and King's Lynn according to Wikipedia. I can't think of any more. Anyway, the island is known as a summer colony, meaning that it's economy is mainly driven by the summer tourist trade, and winters are quiet.

You can find out more about the island here:'s_Vineyard

I spent 3 weeks there in springtime, before the tourist trade kicked off, and had an excellent time staying with friends Mara Carlyle and Sam Mason in Menemsha, a small fishing village to the North West. Sam is a native Vinyarder so I had the opportunity to see how life works on a day to day basis. It seems that the average long term resident is much poorer than the celebs and holiday makers that swamp the place in the summer. The young folk all seem to work as gardeners or baristas, as well as being in really brilliant bands, or creating art. In fact just about every person you meet is a talented musician; Sam is a great drummer, and often plays with his brother Willy Mason. Their friends Lexie Roth, Meredith Sheldon and Sofi Thanhauser are all incredible musicians in very different ways, not to mention visiting songstress Mara, who's talent on legs.

The island is a very inspiring place to write and relax, which was my intention when I went there to recharge the creative portion of my brain following hectic wedding plans and a busy patch of video making. Little did I know I'd end up rising to a bigger creative challenge set by Sam as he left for his gardening job one morning. "If you write a film script by the time I get back from work, we'll make a movie" he said. So that's what I did. "The Dangers of Damp" was written in a day and shot by Whit Lasker, Sam and I over the following week on Whit's Canon D5 digital SLR camera. It stars all of the aforementioned musicians (Willy Mason, Sofi Thannhauser et al) as various characters and will hopefully feature music some of their music too. Several pick-up shots were also filmed in June by Whit and Sam, with me directing from London. More to follow about that soon in another post.

In the meantime check out some of my favorite things about Marath's Vineyard.

Manemsha Fish Market- We ate lot of fish from here. The service is fantastic and the lobster is out of this world. You can even buy a baby Menemsha Fish Market T-shirt on their website, which has got to be a great thing. Right?

Sofi Thanhauser- A brilliant songwriter and performer. She has fantastic presence live and gives a great performance as Victoria Van Der Hope a leggless spinster in "The Dangers of Damp" which I'm currently editing.

The Dumptique- Dumptique doesn't have a website, but then it doesn't need one. This is a FREE thrift store at West Tisbury Dump, and it's the ultimate in recycling, cutting out the boredom and expense of ebay. You can bring stuff you don't want andtake anything you want. The qualiy of things here is surprisingly high, much better than the average British Charlity shop. This is probably because the turnaround is faster, well off residents regularly dump stuff and most people don't bring in crap. They accept- Clothing, clean and usable, shoes and boots, Books, Toys, Small household Items - NO furniture or appliances are accepted.

Che's Lounge- The place to hang out for music, culture and homemade magic. Just the posters for the gigs here are an artistic feat worth seeing. I've sent them a request to put them up on their facebook page, which they may be too busy to do....It's BYOB as the town is dry.

West Tisbury Farmers Market- The store to buy all your fresh friut and veg in. And they do really nice hummus, olives and decent bread. Actually that's one of my only winges about America, it's often hard to get nice bread. But that's not a problem here, and it's actually cheaper that Cronigs (big supermarket chain) for a lot of stuff.