The Watch List

Cape Cod Life  /  LIFE Annual 2024 /

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

The Watch List


Cape Cod Life  /  LIFE Annual 2024 /

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

Our Watch List identifies and recognizes some of the rising stars on Cape Cod—the people who are reimagining and changing things for the better in their industry, who are perhaps building a brand but also building a dream. These movers and shakers are from all paths of life whether it’s food and beverage, hospitality, music, or the nonprofit sector, but they all share something in common: resiliency and determination that has helped them persevere through whatever challenges may have stood in their way. Whether a washashore or a born and raised Cape Codder, these professionals share a passion for their craft and a desire to extend their knowledge and experience with others in the hopes that it ignites a similar spirit. Find a piece of yourself in their stories as they continue to light the beacon of our Cape Cod lives. 

Bryan Barbieri

EOS Hospitality

Bryan Barbieri, senior vice president of public relations and partnerships at EOS Hospitality understands the importance of a memorable Cape Cod vacation. He grew up vacationing with his family at their South Yarmouth cottage which was located just a beach stone’s throw away from the iconic Red Jacket Resorts which were acquired by EOS in late 2021. These properties, three of which will unveil a 40 million dollar facelift this summer, were his childhood summer playground turned professional project that have elicited a full circle type moment in his life. “When EOS first acquired the properties and we were touring the grounds, as they pointed out various pool areas, I may or may not have recalled memories of sneaking in there as a young adult,” he shares with a grin. Such dalliances are understandable as four of the five properties that make up the Red Jacket Resorts portfolio are blessed with private beachfront proximity, pool areas, various accommodation options and a variety of food and beverage outlets; how could any young man resist that kind of temptation?

Photo by Marry Me A Little Photography

For decades the resort has played a pivotal role in the generational experience of summers on Cape Cod. Parents who brought their young families, have seen their children grow-up, and on occasion get married at the properties, and now as grandparents they re-live their memories as a new generation is introduced to the special experience Red Jacket offers. For EOS Hospitality, the acquisition of the properties was a perfect addition to their world-class portfolio of unique and distinctive destinations. “Our hospitality strategy identifies great properties—hotels and resorts that offer something very special in markets where demand exceeds supply,” Barbieri explains. “And with a property like Red Jacket, we understand that their independence and destination specific attraction are a large part of their identity. We strive to not interrupt that, but rather operate as a support system in the background to identify areas where we can deliver improvement.”

For Red Jacket, improvement comes in what Barbieri calls a “glow-up”—a renovation that will be evident in the guest rooms, the public-facing spaces, the food and beverage outlets, and a refresh around the recreational areas with new pool and beach furniture. “It’s still the same brand you have always loved, but now it is a new modern authentic take on each of the valued brands,” he affirms. Within each of the brands, the individual identities align with careful and deliberate attention to certain demographic groups. “In addition to each of the resorts catering to different demographics, we also see a progression as you are able to grow and transition between the properties,” Barbieri says.

“For example, if you are a young family or perhaps early in your professional career, Riviera is a good choice. If you have more disposable income or are looking for a hipper experience, Blue Water is a great option. And if you’re someone who is looking for more of an experience that is focused on luxury, or you are a family who wants a lot of amenities right on site, then the Red Jacket Beach Resort is perfect for you.” Barbieri notes that in a high-demand area like the Cape, rates are often not that disparate across venues, so the distinction of the guest experience is paramount to choosing a property that not only meets but exceeds your expectations.

In addition to the three waterfront properties, the Red Jacket umbrella also includes the Blue Rock Resort adjacent to the Blue Rock Golf Course, rated as one of America’s Top Ten Par 3 courses. And another recent Cape Cod acquisition for EOS Hospitality finds them at the helm at the legendary Wequassett Resort in Harwich.   

~ Julie Craven Wagner

Patrick Ehart

Cape Cod Young Professionals

When he graduated from Babson College, Patrick Ehart had a choice to make: head home to Cape Cod and work in his family’s business or try his hand in another industry. Wanting to experience life off Cape, he chose the latter, but it wasn’t long before family ties tugged at his heart strings, and he realized the corporate world wasn’t for him. The third generation to work in his family business, Cape Cod Commercial Linen Service, Ehart headed back over the bridge and has been working alongside his father since 2011. 

Like many young people on the Cape, he felt the need to make professional connections—to network and meet like-minded, similarly aged individuals who were on a comparable path. He recalls, “I was living on Cape full time and year-round, and in my day to day, I didn’t interact very much with people in my age bracket. I had learned of Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP) through their Back to Business Bash that was held at the Cape Cod Gateway Airport, and I thought it seemed like a great organization to get involved with. I started attending events and met so many great people and I decided to apply to be a part of the Board of Directors.”  That was a little over 5 years ago, and Ehart has seen tremendous growth not just on Cape Cod but within the powerhouse organization that is CCYP as well. 

President of CCYP’s Board of Directors, Patrick Ehart, with past Board President Angelique Viamari at the 2023 CCYP Back to Business Bash at Cape Cod Gateway Airport
Photo provided by CCYP

Just in the last two years alone CCYP has grown through various sponsorship and grant opportunities which has allowed for them to expand their various programs. Ehart beams, “One of the major programs launched recently is our Cape Women’s Leadership Initiative.” The Initiative provides an opportunity for the Cape’s on-the-rise female leaders to gain core leadership skills for professional growth and advancement and build a network of peers and mentors in a highly interactive and collaborative format with current women leaders in the region. 

Ehart, who has been the Treasurer for the past two years, was recently named President. He will help oversee and continue the trajectory of the organization, along with the current Board of Directors. He says, “We’re really invigorated and excited about our mission. The future of the Cape is strong. We’ve seen how it’s truly become a year-round destination where young professionals can live, work, and grow their families. As with any community there are challenges, and affordability and housing are major ones we face here. Where CCYP can play a role is in our efforts to get young people engaged in these conversations—and to bridge the gap between what people are doing day to day and what people want to do in the future. One area that we’ve been exploring is bringing in the next generation of Cape Codders and how to engage that age group.”

CCYP’s Leadership & Professional Advancement Committee, launched three years ago, is just one of CCYP’s ten active volunteer committees. In addition to the Cape Women’s Leadership Initiative, this committee has created a Communicating with Confidence workshop series and will soon be launching a series of leadership mentoring dinners. With grant and sponsorship funding, CCYP has also developed small business resilience programming in recent years, a much needed area here on the Cape. This includes workshop and training opportunities, small business grant writing support, and one-on-one small and group technical assistance. 

The first of CCYP’s three major annual events, the Shape the Cape Summit, will be held in April at the Emerald Resort in Hyannis; hundreds of business and nonprofit leaders, elected officials, local employers, and the Cape’s young workforce are invited for solutions-oriented sessions on the issues that matter most to our region. This September marks the 18th annual Back to Business Bash, the Cape’s biggest networking event; touted as a Cape Cod food and drink extravaganza, it’s a CCYP ‘don’t miss out’ event. Lastly, CCYP’s Annual Community Breakfast, held in November at the Wequassett Resort & Golf Club in Harwich, is a time to come together and celebrate partnerships, recognize annual award recipients, and to share updates on CCYP’s initiatives. 

The saying essentially goes that if you don’t get involved, you’ll forfeit your place in the decision making process—and that too is Patrick Ehart’s strongest piece of advice for those looking to get involved with shaping what the future of Cape Cod will look like. “We have lots of ways for people to get involved—from CCYP Coffee Connects before work to bigger events. Joining CCYP presents so many incredible opportunities, from meeting various business leaders and government officials to people just starting out in their careers.” Look for the full calendar at for details on upcoming events, resources and how to get involved.    

~ Leslie Hatton

Karen Gardner

Community Health Center

There are certain topics of conversation that always leave themselves open for critique: the weather, price of gas and groceries, and the challenges associated with navigating today’s healthcare. The last topic feels as though it is an especially difficult landscape to navigate given the percentage of aging population that calls the Cape home. For the past few decades, residents matriculated within one primary system, and often assume that options don’t exist. In fact, options do exist, and in many cases offer a more thoughtful and examined delivery of service. Such is the case when it comes to Community Health Center of Cape Cod (CHC). Founded in 1998, by a group of dedicated providers who were committed to deliver free health services to uninsured Cape Cod residents. When Governor Mitt Romney led the nation in universal healthcare for Massachusetts residents, the mission of the organization shifted slightly in that now their proven delivery of healthcare could be delivered a much larger segment of the population without the added challenge of operating solely on donations and fundraising. 

Pictured, from left: Karen Gardner, Dr. David Tager, Dr. Kristy Brown, Karen Guest, Sidnae Newton
Photo courtesy of Community Health Center

“In those first four or five years we operated as a free clinic, providing care for the under-served, particularly those who didn’t have health insurance,” Karen Gardner, CEO of CHC explains. “After health care reform we quickly realized our services were in demand because we had gained a reputation for quality providers.” Gardner attributes much of the success of the practice that primarily serves the Upper Cape, to a patient-centric model that partners patients with a team of providers, with a nurse at the core to facilitate with communication, coordination and care delivery.

“In the beginning we helped people gain access to medications, and to specialty care; there was a care coordination effort,” Gardner recalls. “All the things we find disjointed about healthcare now is what was going on then.” Now that the organization benefits from federal licensure, it can sustainably deliver care and services to over 25,000 individuals and receives upwards of 95% satisfaction surveys from their patients, where Gardner says the things consistently noted are multiple services under one roof including, primary care, dental, eye care and specialty services such as counseling and wellness providers.

“I often hear that patients and staff are on a first-name basis since we deliver a team-based approach to care,” Gardner observes. “Patients communicate with either a team nurse or a team medical assistant, in addition to their provider.” This approach has been termed “medical home” which Gardner says has become an over-used descriptor, yet in the case of CHC it is entirely appropriate. 

Gardner and her family found their way to the Cape when she and her husband, a Falmouth native, followed up their military careers with a move that has anchored them for the past 22 years. Her background in finance as well as healthcare administration made her a pivotal choice for the burgeoning organization. 

CHC is a nonprofit 501c3 that still relies on donations and philanthropy to deliver what Gardner refers to “wrap-around” services—those items that aren’t funded through insurance reimbursements. Those services include things like connecting food insecure individuals with resources; complex care; health management; and resources for those in need of housing solutions. Philanthropic funds are also used to scale the growth of the organization to meet the growing demand.

In the age of innovation and discovery in the healthcare industry, the frustrations encountered while pursuing one’s own optimal health, shouldn’t determine one’s success or satisfaction. Thankfully Community Health Center of Cape Cod has implemented a proven model that not only meets but exceeds the challenges in pursuit of healthcare on Cape Cod.  

~ Julie Craven Wagner

Bobby Jarvis

MA Restaurant Association’s Restaurateur of the Year

Musician James Taylor wrote, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time,” and as restaurateur Bob Jarvis sits at the bar at Bucatino Restaurant and Wine Bar, one of his three restaurants, he reflects on doing just that. Jarvis’ parents owned the legendary Chart Room in Cataumet where he spent countless hours growing up in the family business, a foodie before it was trendy, he not only learned the ropes but also cultivated a love for well-prepared food and drink.

Some time was spent in other kitchens stretching from Colorado to Nantucket but ultimately, Jarvis landed permanently back on Cape Cod where he started a fresh pasta company called Cape Cod Pasta, that he operated out of a basement in a Falmouth restaurant. “I would run that business during the day and work at the Chart Room at night,” Jarvis recalls. However, when the popular Falmouth Main Street eatery, The Quarterdeck, became available for sale, he jumped at the opportunity, which set in motion the purchase of two more restaurants; The Pilot House in Sandwich and Bucatino Restaurant and Wine Bar in North Falmouth, the latter being the aforementioned building where he ran his pasta company. Talk about full circle. 

Photo by Meghan Murphy

The three restaurants, while each having a different profile, are woven together by a common thread: Jarvis’ expectation of consistency—in the high-quality dishes, creative drinks and the attention to great customer service. “Consistency and being passionate is what makes us stand out and keeps people coming back,” he explains, “a business has to be consistent and it’s the hardest thing to do. I don’t think the public really understands what that takes. I want it to be the same experience if you come in on a Saturday or a Tuesday. And just having the friendly, open-door vibe is something we strive for. We want it to be lively but intimate.” 

The recipe for success is clearly working at all three locations, as Jarvis was nominated and recently won the distinguished Restaurateur of the Year award by the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. He is quick to say, however, that he doesn’t feel the honor is his alone, “It’s not a one man show. It takes an army to get this done, so I feel like I took the award for the whole team.” The tight-knit family mindset is evident in each venue as all four of his children as well as his wife, Jen, can be found working in various capacities. The restaurant scene on Cape Cod in the summer isn’t for the faint of heart, but Jarvis smiles and says, “They all wanted to do it and they all work together.” He tells the story that his oldest son, Lucas, expressed an interest in not just working at, but managing Bucatino after he graduated from college. After a week of double shifts and an overall grueling schedule, the elder Jarvis thought for sure his son would be handing in his apron. He says, “Instead he told me he loved it! I knew it was his thing.” 

With a great management team in place, renovations and upgrades being done at each location—a spacious outdoor bar and a renovated kitchen at Bucatino to accommodate larger functions and events, and new flooring at The Pilot House—Jarvis is ready to tackle another busy season. “We’re really blessed to have so many people who have stayed with us,” he adds. Head chef Dan Delancey oversees the restaurants’ menus and views his role as one that mirrors Jarvis, “We’re always working together and with the other chefs at all three places to come up with new ideas and drive creativity into what we are offering. We’re constantly trying to elevate the things we’re doing to gain new customers.” 

Being in the food and beverage industry since 1982, Jarvis has ridden the waves and moved along with the ebbs and flows of a difficult industry. He muses, “I was thinking about it recently, how it’s been a long time. But I’m still so inspired by it. I love seeing all the energy in the industry—working with kitchen staff, showing a little technique and seeing someone light up at how it helps—just creating a family here and getting feedback from customers.”  

~ Leslie Hatton

John McCarthy

Pelham Hospitality

If enthusiasm is contagious, you’ll surely catch it from John McCarthy. The managing partner at Pelham Hospitality in Dennis Port is the face of the world-class facility and aptly so, as he has been involved with the property since 1997 when his father, Bob McCarthy, saw its potential and purchased what was then a 33-room inn. In those days the younger McCarthy was a college student, returning to his family’s summer home in Dennis to lend a hand in whatever capacity was needed at the inn—raking the beach, cleaning the pool, helping cook breakfast, answering the phone—you name it, and McCarthy would hustle to get it done. Fast forward 27 years later and he’s still hustling around Pelham House, but these days, he’s got a lot more ground to cover as it’s grown from that 33-room inn to a 8,000 square foot stunning and sophisticated coastal venue.

Photo by Meghan Murphy

McCarthy reflects on those early days at Pelham House, “The rooms were dated, very ‘olde Cape Cod’ with carpeting and no air-conditioning. We had a bag of sticks to hold up the windows!” The father-son duo (along with one partner who was the elder McCarthy’s friend) ran the waterfront location in a very cruise-control type of manner for several years—making small scale repairs and upgrades when they could afford to, booking smaller, tented weddings on the grassy area next to the hotel and handling the majority of the catering themselves. Ultimately, Bob McCarthy’s partner decided to move on, which left him no choice other than to sell the hotel to a development group; both he and John were asked to stay on board to assist with the new concept, which would be marketed as quarter-share condominiums. With the new influx of funds, the rooms were soon renovated and while it wasn’t a complete makeover, it was certainly better. McCarthy recalls, “It wasn’t a bad idea in theory. You could have your slice of Cape Cod, on the water, as a quarter share. But as they started selling it became evident that it could be tricky because eventually you wind up with maybe 130 quarter shareholders all having a voice on how the business should look.” Still, the McCarthys forged on, for though the hotel was maintaining a profit, they had the gnawing feeling that the idyllic property that overlooks Nantucket Sound, had untapped potential yet to be revealed. At this juncture, the senior McCarthy tragically developed vascular dementia and began to steadily decline; thus putting the job of managing the Pelham solely in John’s hands, along with the inevitable reality that his father, who had always been the one holding court, would soon be gone. “It’s just me. I’m dealing with the day-to-day, the developers were starting to look to sell so there were different groups coming in tour and I just didn’t know what my life was going to look like,” he remembers wistfully.

Enter Frank Hursey. Neighbor of the Pelham Resort and long-time friend of Bob McCarthy. Hursey would pop in to socialize from time to time, get the inside scoop on all the current happenings in Dennis and be entertained by his gregarious and dear friend Bob. That was really all that John McCarthy knew of his father’s friend until one afternoon, not long after his Dad had passed, Hursey and his son-in-law Dennis Leary, a former stockbroker, came to visit—and expressed an interest in developing the property. Looking back McCarthy says, “I knew Frank, but I didn’t think that it was real. We had never talked about money or investing or anything like that, and I didn’t know his background, so I took it with a grain of salt.” But it was in fact a very real offer, and within months, Hursey, Leary, and McCarthy were in talks with the developers, meetings with the remaining quarter shareholders and viewing renderings of what the future of the Pelham House could look like. 

Fast forward through the renovating and building of the property and through the hospitality industry nightmare that was COVID-19 (cancellations, delays, restrictions, postponements, regulations) and the creation of a stellar management team whom McCarthy lovingly says, “are all fighters, like me—we’re underdogs,” to the present day, where Pelham House stands at the water’s edge, an impressive, first-class resort that is finally coming into its own and whose possibilities for creating lasting memories are endless. 

In the last three years Pelham House has expanded to include additional, nearby properties that while each unique, have been crafted with the same unwavering dedication to creating effortless and memorable guest experiences. Pelham on Earle is a charming 27-room hotel nestled among the hydrangeas in West Harwich and Pelham on Main, also consisting of 27 rooms, is an exceptional coastal retreat close by in West Dennis. Both thoughtfully designed, and with full access to the main Pelham House, these seaside boutique hotels are extensions of the welcoming, tailored experience Pelham House is known for. Their latest venture, sure to hit the sweet spot, is Pelham on the Rise, a scratch retail bakery where all the baked goods for the Pelham properties are created. 

McCarthy grins, “I knew my Dad had trained me so incredibly well and I knew I had the energy and the personality to lead, but this ‘little engine that could’—is just amazing, and I pinch myself every day that I get to come to the place that my Dad chose and be surrounded by people who believe in this. That’s winning.”  

~ Leslie Hatton

Sherry Pocknett

James Beard Foundation Award-Winning Chef

“I’m just a normal person,” Sherry Pocknett says, “but I don’t want to say that I’m not special because I do feel very special.” By definition the word normal means conforming to a standard; someone or something that is typical, common, or expected; Sherry Pocknett isn’t any of those things. She’s much more. Pocknett, a Wampanoag Indian born and raised in Mashpee, is the 2023 recipient of the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast hailing from her Charlestown, Rhode Island restaurant Sly Fox Den Too. Often referred to as the Oscars of the food world, The James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization, awards excellence to those who are in the food and beverage industry, and Pocknett took home the hardware for her skill in creating indigenous coastal cuisine. 

Growing up in Mashpee she was always surrounded by great cooks and experimental cooking; her uncle Earl Mills Sr. (Chief Flying Eagle) was the owner and chef of the beloved Mashpee restaurant The Flume (currently Naukabout Brewery and Taproom), her grandmother, Delscena Hendricks, was a master pastry chef, and even later in life her son’s grandmother, a woman from Savannah, Georgia, taught her about Southern cooking. It was a different time back then, and growing up in Mashpee in the 60s and 70s didn’t resemble the Mashpee of today. Pocknett reflects, “It was an amazing thing growing up in Mashpee then and I didn’t realize it at the time. Everything that my family taught me—both sides of my family are Wampanoags—we just all grew up learning about survival, not cooking per se. It was all about survival and eating well. We learned how to eat by the season and whatever was at harvest we forged and hunted and fished.” With the Suzy Homemaker toy oven her mother bought for her when she was eight years old, Pocknett began her lifelong devotion to cooking, learning and educating. 

Photo provided by Sherry Pocknett

Pocknett spent many years honing her craft and sharing her love of food in the catering business. She had a mobile catering license, a food truck and was always kept busy with engagements for large groups whether they were at schools, colleges or the traditional powwows, which are celebrations of Native American culture through dancing, drumming, games, clothing, and of course food. Pocknett had been living and working at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center in Connecticut for several years when she made the decision to try her hand at opening her own restaurant. Her first purchase was a building in Connecticut that although is in the perfect location, requires a lot of work and additional funding. Her second was done purely by happenstance. “I came across a little restaurant while at a ceremony in Narragansett territory that had a ‘For Rent’ sign on it and thought that I could create some revenue for that first purchase.” Pocknett signed the lease and named the restaurant after her late father, Mashpee Wampanoag Chief Sly Fox, Vernon Pocknett. At Sly Fox Den Too (the Too is because, working backwards, as the second restaurant will be named Sly Fox Den) she began to create meals that were familiar to her; locally caught fish, quahogs, rabbit, sausage, deer, corn cakes, foraged herbs and vegetables and preparing many of them with sunflower oil as opposed to butter. A popular favorite is her Three Sisters Rice, a vegan friendly wild rice blend with corn, squash and beans. “People are just crazy about it! We serve it every day. We just do all kinds of different things people don’t normally do,” she remarks. And as is often the case that things always happen when you are least expecting it, unbeknownst to Pocknett, while she was serving dishes near and dear to her heart, she was nominated for the highly regarded James Beard award. She recalls, “I was flabbergasted. I never had a restaurant before. And then to find out we were in the finals? I honestly couldn’t believe it.”

Beset by breast cancer, Pocknett grappled through chemotherapy and surgery but with the support of her daughters and their efforts to maintain the restaurant while she kept up her fight, she was able to attend the awards ceremony in Chicago. Dressed in her traditional regalia, flanked by one of her daughters, Pocknett sat in the back of the grand Lyric Opera building and when she heard her name called as the winner, she remembered almost fainting. “You know, I just wanted to make my people proud, my town proud. It was just beautiful and amazing—everyone was cheering. I was so sick at the time that I couldn’t really absorb it,” she says in her humble manner. 

Now cancer-free and feeling rejuvenated, Pocknett is itching to explore this next chapter of her life which will hopefully include securing a Mashpee location as well as the opening of the original restaurant site, which she plans to make a cultural destination. “It’s a beautiful location between Foxwoods Resort & Casino and Mohegan Sun Casino Hotel,” she says excitedly, “It will be a living museum, with an outdoor kitchen, a Three Sisters garden—we’ll have burnout canoe demonstrations and since it’s on a bay, I’d like to have an oyster farm and kayak rentals.” 

The recipient of the James Beard award, the feature of numerous articles, most notably, TIME magazine, as well as being named recently Connecticut’s Woman of the Year, Sherry Pocknett most certainly has made her people and her hometown proud, and she’s only just begun. Visit for menus and information on Pocknett’s cultural center project.    

~ Leslie Hatton

Carly Tefft


Walking her dog Dunkin’ and thinking about the past few years, Carly Tefft acknowledges that she is just hitting her stride. “It’s going to be a great year, it really is. God knows what He’s doing and I’m grateful for all of it.” For Tefft, a Cape Cod girl (Sandwich specifically), living part time in Nashville, life—of late—has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride, but one that has provided her with the inspiration and strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

Country musician Toby Keith said, “Writing songs and looking for ideas is like blinking my eyes. It’s an involuntary muscle. I do it without thought.” Similarly, Tefft’s musical journey began with an original song that popped into her head when she was just seven years old. The subject? Santa Claus. “I didn’t tell anyone. I just thought everyone did that. When I was 13, I got a guitar for Christmas, and I started putting those songs together. A teacher saw me playing and asked where I learned and I said, ‘I taught myself.’ He told me I was good and that I should look into a college called Berklee and that really planted a seed in me.” Recognizing this was something serious that she wanted to pursue, her parents signed her up for music lessons. She remembers, “The instructor would put us together so we could collaborate, and it was honestly the most gifted time. I met some of my best friends to this day from that experience and it’s where I learned to sing and gained some confidence.” She put her full effort into the goal of landing at one of the nation’s leading music colleges and it paid off. “I had only been singing and playing music for only two and half years when I got there, but I knew I had a great work ethic, great pitch and I loved to write songs and play music, so I knew I was going to do well. But it was like learning a whole new language—I never knew how to read music or formally write with charts and chords. It was humbling,” she says. She strode out of Berklee in 2016 headed for the bright lights and big city of Nashville. 

Photo by Thayne Media

For a while she did the tireless grind of working, writing, and grabbing gigs both solo or oftentimes with a group, until a major car accident forced her to take a pause. After the holidays on the Cape, and healed, she returned to Music City invigorated, with a new producer and ready to hit the ground running when COVID-19 hit. “I was in my apartment in Nashville, doing live streams like everyone else and just creatively dying inside.” As summer weather was beginning to break back home on Cape Cod, businesses like The Pilot House, Fisherman’s View and Tomatoes were looking to book her for outdoor entertainment, and Tefft leapt at the chance. Once again, she left Nashville for the respite of home, but fate determined it would prove to be for a reason bigger than music. Tefft’s mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and passed after only a few short months, leaving her only child feeling bereft, but also blessed, for having been able to share those final moments together. She remarks, “Sometimes I still can’t believe it. For almost a year I was a shell of myself. In a haze—not writing at all and I played shows, but just to make money. I was just getting through. I didn’t know if I would ever write a song. I didn’t know if I’d ever go to Nashville ever again, I just didn’t know.”

But in the summer of ‘22 things started to happen. Connecting back with friends, she finally began to write songs again, and slowly, she began to feel a spark of joy. But just like a roller coaster levels out then picks up speed, Tefft took a gig that would take a quick turn and leave her hanging on for the ride. She remembers, “I was asked to sing the national anthem at a rally for former President Trump, and I didn’t even hesitate because getting to sing the national anthem for the 45th President of the United States? I don’t care what party you believe in; the national anthem is for every American. I knew people would judge me, but I know my reasons.” What happened next was a whirlwind that began with a venue canceling her upcoming performances and ended with her being interviewed by major news outlets all over the country. Tefft says, “My world was like a wildfire. It was an insane period of trying to juggle family, myself both personally and professionally, and just figuring everything out.” Once again, with her faith as her buoy, she emerged stronger, busier, and healthier. Always inspired by the Cape she smiles, “The Beachcomber is my spot. My last day on Earth? That’s where I’m going—or The Knob or the Boardwalk in Sandwich. The ocean is just ingrained in my soul. You’ll hear it in my music how I’m always making references to the water.” With 2024 laid out before her, and plans to release new music beginning this spring, Tefft is more than ready to share her story. Follow her journey on Instagram @carlytefft and be on the lookout for her upcoming album titled, The Hurt. She has a residency at The Music Room located on 541 Main Street in West Yarmouth, for dates and times, go to    

~ Leslie Hatton

Cape Cod Life Publications