The Pit Stop Goes Legit

Sisters Nina Violet and Marciana Jones, and Willy Mason take the stage.

The Pit Stop is official! On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Oak Bluffs board of selectmen approved Don Muckerheide’s application for a business and entertainment license. The venue’s grand opening is a two-night extravaganza that showcases the diversity of the island’s younger musicians. Last night featured Nina Violet, Marciana Jones, Willy Mason, and Adam Lipsky in a pop-folk-blues vein. Tonight the Pit Stop will rock on with a CD release dance party for the band Master Exploder.

Charlie Esposito watches.

Both events are free, but they also signal the opening of the Pit Stop Workshop Co.’s membership drive. In a Feb. 22 Martha’s Vineyard Times story, Don described the new enterprise as “a member-supported community recreation room, consisting of a performance space for music, poetry, plays, puppet shows, and independent films, as well as a gallery for the visual arts.” Memberships go for $100 (yearly) or $15 (monthly); members get a 50% discount on admission prices and other benefits.

I splurged on the yearly option. Writing the check felt like a vote for faith in the future of year-round Martha’s Vineyard.

Willy Mason solo

The show opened with a bold piano set by Adam Lipsky — the Pit Stop boasts a real piano — then moved into a solo turn by Marciana Jones, Nina Violet’s younger sister. Nina soloed on viola, on which she’s a master — she’s not called Violet for nothing! — and the well-traveled Willy Mason has no trouble holding an audience by himself.

Nina on viola

But my favorite parts of the evening were the duets, trios, and larger ensembles among the players. These musicians enjoy playing together, and you can feel, see, and hear the synergy when they do. I especially love Nina and Marciana’s vocal harmonies, which can be heard on Nina’s wonderful new CD, We’ll Be Alright. (That link is to the digital version; CDs are currently hard to find, but a second pressing is planned.)

Zack Sawmiller’s drums provided a strong foundation for the group numbers, and Elizabeth (last name TK) added another backup voice.

Now that the Pit Stop is duly licensed, watch for increasing activity at the Dukes County Ave. space. FleaPit will offer its “shabby, chic cinema experience” on Wednesday nights, and All’s Well That Ends Well, the next production in the popular Shakespeare for the Masses series, will take place on Friday, March 9. (SforM specializes in staged readings of ingeniously abridged versions of Shakespeare’s plays.)

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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