The Block Island Times

From Elvis to hip hop: Block Island Music Festival starts June 11

By Lars Trodson | Jun 07, 2013
Photo by: Kari Curtis Glenda Luck and John Whitaker.

Forty-eight bands. Eight bands a day. Six days in a row.

That’s what’s in store for the 13th Annual Block Island Music Festival, which begins this Tuesday, June 11, at Captain Nick’s Rock and Roll Bar on Ocean Avenue.

According to Captain Nick’s owner — and co-founder of the festival — Marc Scortino, this year’s lineup is about as eclectic as it gets.

On Friday, June 14, there is a classical cellist by the name of Peter Lewy. On the following day, Saturday, June 15, you can listen to a guy who dresses up in a pirate costume and sings Elvis Presley songs. His name is Captain Radical. In between there’s hip hop (Dr. Westchesterson), bands that play their own material (The McLovins) and a whole slew of locals that includes Virginia Dare, The Booze Beggars, Glenda Luck, and others.

There’s even an entire day — Tuesday — that’s dedicated to bands from New London, Conn. “It’s kind of random and strange,” said Scortino. “But it’s great.”

Scortino also said that this year’s festival is dedicated to Peter Monje, an island resident who passed away earlier this year. “Peter and his son Silas have played in the festival in the past,” said Scortino.

The festival started in 2001, kind of on a whim, when Scortino and former Captain Nick’s owner Mike Finimore, were looking to drum up a little business for the middle of June. Scortino was up in Vermont with his back blown out, and he admits he went a little overboard booking bands.

“Mike was thinking a few bands on Friday and Saturday night,” said Scortino. “I put an ad in the paper and put together 48 bands over six days. Mike’s jaw dropped and said, ‘What did you do?’”

Scortino recruited Jamie Sciffo to help coordinate the production (Sciffo’s still on board) and although the first couple of years were a little chaotic, the formula hasn’t changed since.

“The festival was an experiment that went really well,” Scortino said.

Festival Fact Sheet

In accordance with the organic nature of The Block Island Music Festival, admission is free. The festival is a 21-plus years of age event and proper identification is absolutely required. Children will be admitted between the hours of 5 - 9 p.m. only under strict parental supervision. To further our commitment to providing a unique experience, the music fest barbeque pit will provide free food to all festival goers starting at 5 p.m. until supplies run out for the day.

Each of the festival’s six days begins at 5 p.m. outdoors on the Sunshine Stage. Four sets of music performed by solo artists and small acoustic ensembles provide the perfect ending to a day at the beach for visitors and locals alike. As the sun sets on Block Island, the festival moves indoors to the Main Stage where four more bands perform until 1 a.m.

For those planning to attend multiple days, overnight accommodations can be made by calling Block Island Reservations at (800) 825-6254 or visiting

Camping is not allowed on Block Island. If you plan on staying overnight, please make arrangements ahead of time.

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