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2022 Creative Living Award: Charlie Esposito

Oct. 07, 2022

We are proud to honor Charlie Esposito, whose behind-the-scenes efforts have enriched the lives of so many over the decades.

The Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation (MVCF) has selected Charlie Esposito of Tisbury as the recipient of its 2022 Creative Living Award, a designation that has become an annual celebration of creativity, innovation, and community since 1983. The award was created to honor Ruth Bogan who “loved beauty, who loved the Vineyard and who believed ‘anyone can do anything,’” a description that aptly fits this year’s honoree.

Charlie has so often been the behind-the-scenes creator and motivator in numerous roles through the decades that he personifies Bogan’s view that the Island is a place where individuals make enormous yet often unheralded contributions to the quality of life here. A musician and former art student from New York City, he and his bandmates Timothy Maxwell and Duane Spencer traveled the country before settling on Martha’s Vineyard in the late 60’s. Together as Timothy, Charles, Duane or “TCD” they continued to hone their acoustic sound at the Wintertide Coffee House, the Katherine Cornell Theater and at the famed former Seaview Hotel where they developed a rock version of the band to satisfy a more raucous clientele. TCD will reprise the band for the celebration on October 6, 2022.

Still, Charlie’s contribution to a robust Island life extends beyond his music. In the late 70s, Charlie began working as a chef and manager at the Black Dog Tavern, establishing Chinese nights in the winter, which eventually led to other specialty evenings.

A new decade, the 80s, brought electric music and Charlie built a recording studio in the basement of the former EduComp building in Vineyard Haven, working the boards and recording many albums for bands including Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, Entrain, and others.

In the 90s, Charlie developed a studio component enabling him to broadcast live NPR programs, for example. It also allowed Island residents, be they seasonal or year-round, to do voice over work and be national radio guests. Among those taking advantage of a new Island capability to join national conversations were Carly Simon, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and the late Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite.

Finally, Charlie has taken his years of music, theatrical production and creativity as the director of the MVRHS Performing Arts Center (PAC), a position he’s held since 2003. And in that role, he has taught students everything required to put on a show from recording, lighting, music, staging and production. Several students, in fact, have gone on to successful careers in sound and production.