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James Taylor, Carly Simon Hot Commodities on Martha’s Vineyard

August 30, 1995 GMT

WEST TISBURY, Mass. (AP) _ Jim Pringle remembers when it was easy to see James Taylor perform on Martha’s Vineyard.

``It used to be you would go to a party on the island and there would be JT, playing a couple of tunes,″ the white-haired Pringle said. ``That’s the way it was.″

No longer.

All 10,000 tickets for tonight’s Livestock ’95 _ Taylor’s first concert with ex-wife Carly Simon in 16 years _ sold out in less than four hours, leaving some islanders in the lurch.

Tickets for the benefit were sold only on the island, where the population swells from about 12,000 in winter to 70,000 in summer.

Pringle got lucky _ his wife won tickets at the Agricultural Fair earlier this month. About 300 less fortunate islanders are trading 10 hours of work at the concert site in exchange for a dirt-and-crabgrass seat. Some 200 more are on a waiting list hoping to get involved.

``I don’t mind the work,″ said Gail Keenan, who spent much of Tuesday raking between rows of folding chairs in front of the outdoor stage. ``I just had to come to the concert.″

Taylor and Simon are longtime residents of Martha’s Vineyard, a favorite retreat of the rich and famous. Their last joint appearance was at the ``No Nukes″ concert in New York City in 1979. They were divorced in 1981.

They will play individual sets tonight and then close the show together.

Simon returned to the concert stage earlier this year for the first time in 15 years. Taylor tours regularly and often helps out with island benefits.

Tonight’s show was expected to raise about $200,000 for the local Agricultural Society’s new barn. The post-and-beam structure was moved piece by piece from New Hampshire and reassembled by about 150 volunteers last November.

Organizers have downplayed the reunion, hoping to retain the small-town spirit of the barn raising.

``This is what it’s all about, the barn,″ said Ted Cammann, the event’s producer and Taylor’s tour manager. ``The Agricultural Society has a great deal of meaning for us here on the island.″

Media from the mainland have been barred from the concert, and security is tight. Neither Simon nor Taylor were giving interviews, and visitors were escorted around the concert grounds for a quick look.

Some residents think the show has been blown out of proportion. ``It’s just a concert, right?″ said a man who identified himself only as Dave. ``Who cares?″

Another longtime islander, painter Anne McGhee, casually tossed aside one of the hundreds of ``No Parking″ signs lining the streets leading to Agricultural Hall. The sign blocked her view of a horse in a field that she was eyeing as the subject for her next painting.

``This concert isn’t anything to get upset about,″ she said. ``It’s just another oddity on Martha’s Vineyard _ like the president’s vacation _ only this time it’s Carly and James and they live here.″