Martha’s Vineyard Becomes Songwriting Haven for Weekend Songwriter Festival

Picturesque Martha’s Vineyard played host to the Martha’s Vineyard Songwriting Festival this past weekend, for the festival’s fifth year of shows, workshops, and gatherings. The festival began in Boston, with shows from both the festival’s Rising Stars and Pros, and then moved to the island Friday morning.

“This is kind of a special event ’cause everyone in this room values songs,” workshop leader Clay Mills said Friday night at the welcome BBQ, where attendees and veteran songwriters mingled pool-side over pulled pork and mac & cheese and took turns singing #1 songs (including Michael Tyler playing his and Jaron Boyer’s Dierks Bentley hit “Somewhere On A Beach”) and newly-written gems alike.

The festival itself is unique in its offering: attendees not only get to hear songs from the pros, they take classes with them, hang out with them, even write songs with them. As instructors Clay Mills and Marty Dodson, who led workshops from their project Songtown, re-iterated over the course of the weekend, however, the real asset for attendees was each other. The festival isn’t a spectator sport: daytime workshops transitioned seamlessly into late-night jam sessions and co-writes across the Vineyard’s historic shared homes.

“I hope you find a lot of inspiration here,” one attendee who lives on the Vineyard said early in the course of Saturday’s workshops. “There’s a lot of magic here.”

The workshops and get-togethers between attendees and pros were peppered with shows, from pop-up performances at the Vineyard’s Tivoli festival Saturday afternoon to writers’ rounds in Boston during the week and at the Vineyard’s Strand Theater on Saturday. Instructors Dodson and Mills were joined by Jimmy Yeary for compelling offerings of their hits including songs like “I Drive Your Truck.” Subsequent rounds were bursting with talent, including Jaron Boyer, CJ Solar, Erik Dylan, Michael Tyler, Lacy Cavalier, Alec MacGillivray, Lance Carpenter, Krista Angelucci, Jenny Tolman, and Martin & Kelly.

Attendees left inspired, with many planning future co-writes with other attendees. For more info on the festival, visit their website: