Musical youth at this year's B.I. Music Festival
The Block Island Music Festival, organized by Captain Nick’s proprietor, Marc Scortino, will kick off on Tuesday, June 12, and run for six days, wrapping up on Sunday, June 17.
Not to be missed this year are two youngsters, island native Silas Monje, performing a set with his father, Pete, as well as New York City native, Schuyler Iona Press.
Hometown piano man, Silas Monje, 13, will perform at 5 p.m. on Thursday. He was born and bred on music right here on the island. Dad, Pete Monje, sang Silas and older sister Thea to sleep with his guitar. But Dad doesn’t credit himself with his children’s talents. He said he simply provided the fundamentals — guitars and pianos in this case — and gave them the freedom to do the rest.
Their home is fully stocked with nine guitars (Pete being a collector), and two pianos. This will be Pete’s third Music Fest, and Silas’s first. Dad will shorten his typical set to make room for his son to perform on the piano. Silas recently received accolades for his work in the Drama 911 Players Production of “I Hate Shakespeare,” as well as his performances in the recent piano recital and the school’s Spring Concert. A man of few words, Silas said he is “excited!” about the upcoming Music Fest gig.
Keep an eye on this musical family, as 15-year-old Thea Monje will strum her guitar later this summer at ConserFest, at McGovern’s Yellow Kittens.
Performing just after Silas at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, will be Schuyler Iona Press, a 13-year-old from the Hudson Valley who writes all of her own music.
This musician, poet and actress is making her first appearance at the Block Island Music Fest. Schuyler’s performance career has taken off this year, having recently been the youngest artist ever invited to the exclusive Singer/Songwriter Sessions at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, where she performed in January and May.
According to her father, Darren, who recently began managing his home-schooled daughter’s career, Schuyler was “a poet very early on,” often asking him to write down poetry she had composed in her head before she was old enough to write herself. Recognizing the uniqueness of Schuyler’s world view, her parents, both artists themselves, fostered her early curiosities. She started with the violin at age four and quickly moved to the guitar after Darren taught her a few chords.
Shy and reserved offstage, Schuyler’s experience onstage is nothing short of transformative. She describes a comfort she feels nowhere else, an ability to see herself at a distance. People who know her offstage often ask, “where did that come from?” Block Island will be the furthest distance she has ever travelled to perform and when asked what excites her most about the opportunity, she says: “I love sharing my music with people.”
Sharing her music is not the only way Schuyler gives back. All of the proceeds from the iTunes sales of “I Am Today,” the first song Schuyler recorded, at age 10, go toward pediatric cancer research. Her next project is to start a nonprofit organization to make the arts accessible to terminally ill children.
She describes her idea as similar to the Make a Wish Foundation, with an artistic spin, for example, “bringing in a songwriter to help a child write a song that the family would have forever as a memory,” she said.
She certainly has her hand in everything, having recently debuted in her parents’ first feature length film, alongside her two sisters, and joined a modern/Irish dance troupe. As for the future, Schuyler wants to “try a little bit of everything.”
Also rumored to be making an appearance at the festival is Western Massachusetts celebrity, Dr. Westchesterson, age undetermined. This would provide for a rare sighting of the doctor since his “413” video went viral on YouTube in April.