Friday, June 29, 2012

Joe Flood Floods The Buttonwood Tree With History, Humor, and Happy Sounds

Last Friday night, Connecticut's own Joe Flood, accompanied by Joe Fonda and Scott Kessel, played a show here at The Buttonwood Tree. Guests filled the room to hear Flood's unique sound that ranged from 60's rock n' roll to the blues. For a low price of $15, people came to see the trio whose impressive performance had me bobbing my head along and my feet tapping to the greatly-lauded rhythm. The audience clearly had a great time, even dancing along to songs like “Digging A Hole.” Flood entertained his audience with jokes and stories of the past. As an American history buff, Joe Flood taught us how New Orleans' French and his Irish great-grandfather influenced his music. His history lesson instigated a “carpe diem” sentiment for the night, which wrapped the whole show together.
      There was never a dull moment with even the instruments being a sight to see. Kessel played on an extraordinary set of drums that consisted of a suitcase, snare, cymbals, and stack of wooden boxes. People of all ages could enjoy the wide variety of songs Flood and co. had to offer. The slightly eclectic mix of music was an obvious show of Flood's wide array of influences. Simply, there was something for everyone. Flood's strong voice and passion charmed us all with a performance I would whole-heartedly recommend others to experience.

Connecticut Broadcasters Association Awards Scholarship to MxCC Student

The Connecticut Broadcasters Association has selected an incoming Middlesex Community College student as one of its annual scholarship winners.  Shavandalice Davis of New Britain received the award because of her proven talents and desires to pursue a career in broadcasting.  She will formally enter the Broadcast-Cinema Associate’s Degree program at MxCC in the fall.

After being laid off from her real estate position, Davis entered the state’s dislocated worker retraining program and learned about educational opportunities available to her.  In a former role as a make-up artist, Davis knew a little about the broadcasting industry – but was unsure how she could find her place in this competitive field.  She began to research ways to gain experience, and realized an academic approach was the best route for her.  This is the first time Davis has attended college on any level.

“I chose to apply to Middlesex Community College because I felt it would give me lots of opportunities for relevant, hands-on experience,” Davis said.  “The on-campus broadcasting studio at MxCC is a great place to learn new skills and be creative, and I am excited to take part in the school’s internship program.  This is a great new beginning for me.”

Davis’s ultimate goal is to work in radio, or possibly to become a script writer for television or film.  She already has written and produced a short, five-minute film and is building a portfolio of her completed works.
“We had a record number of applicants for our scholarships this year, so it was very competitive,” said Don DeCesare, president and general manager at WLIS-AM and WMRD-AM, and a past chairman of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association.  “However, Shavandalice truly stood out as a promising talent.  We are impressed she chose Middlesex Community College to start her career.  While we sometimes overlook community colleges, they continue to be one of the best educational and career-building resources in our state, and in the broadcasting field.”

This year, the Connecticut Broadcasters Association ( presented more than $80,000 in scholarship funds to students pursuing a career in broadcasting, communications, marketing, engineering, or electronics.  Awards are made to Connecticut residents who are entering their first, second, third or fourth year of study in a broadcasting-related area at any university and college in the country.

Davis is pictured here, behind the camera in the MxCC broadcast studio, with DeCesare and Dr. Anna Wasescha, president of MxCC.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Two Great Bands at The Buttonwood Tree this Weekend

RJ Ruotolo - Friday June 29 at 8pm

One of the hottest bands in the area, Richard Ruotolo & Meadowe Music generates energy and excitement everywhere and everytime they perform.

This dynamic band is comprised of three to eleven very talented musicians: Ruotolo is featured on the vibraphone and percussion, Jazz, classical favorites, Italian, R&B, funk, fusion swing, soul, latin/salsa and pop songs are performed – Richard Ruotolo & Meadowe Music also perform Ruotolo’s compositions (ASCAP 2011). His CD’s are available for purchase.

Also featuring:
George Ramirez: guitar
Keith Henderson: bass
Bill Fisher: saxophones
JTRosa: trombone

Andy Buzzi Trio - Saturday June 30 at 8pm

Come listen to an original funky fusion trio from New Haven, CT.

The Andy Buzzi Trio is a funky, engaging and humorous original band. Defying genres, the Trio morphs from style to style, even sometimes within the same song. Buzzi’s songs range from political to hysterical and from Rock and Roll to Ragtime. Come shake it with the band and scream your way onto their live recording!

Eric Bloomquist: bass guitar, vocals
Jeff Nixon: drums, percussion, vocals.
Andy Buzzi: lead guitar, vocals


Supreme Court Lets Health Care Law Largely Stand

Read the NY Times article.

MxCC Hosts Return of Connecticut Ballet, ARTFARM’s “Shakespeare Everywhere” and Local Music Festival

The Humanities and Arts Division of Middlesex Community College announced its lineup of summer performances at the Middletown campus.  All performances are free and open to the public, although donations to the sponsoring arts organizations are appreciated.  For the two outdoor events on the lawn in the Grove, attendees are invited to bring their own picnics, beverages, chairs and blankets.

·         The Connecticut Ballet returns to MxCC for the second year to perform its 7th annual "Summer Dance Caravan" on Sunday, July 15 at 5 p.m. in Chapman Hall.  The dance company will perform a sampling of different selections in its repertoire, "From Ballet to Broadway."

·         ARTFARM's “Shakespeare Everywhere: The Complete Work” will perform outdoors in the Grove at MxCC on Sunday, August 5 at 6 p.m.  A 45-minute concert will take place before the show, and a 45-minute performance of short Shakespeare selections in "guerilla/flashmob” (Shakespeare style) will take place immediately following the show.   The performance will move indoors to Chapman Hall if it rains.

·         The "Festival of Local Arts & Music" co-sponsored by the Buttonwood Tree and WESU-AM will come to MxCC for the first time this summer in the Grove on Sunday, August 12 from 4-8 p.m. (or in Chapman Hall Multipurpose room if it rains).  The festival will be a modern-day vaudeville-style variety show of several Middletown-area musical groups and other performing artists.

Founded in 1966, Middlesex Community College ( is part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents for Higher Education. The school offers more than 50 degree or certificate programs at its three locations:  the main, 38-acre campus in Middletown, the downtown Meriden Center, and the shoreline in Old Saybrook.  The college promotes understanding, learning, ethics, and self-discipline by encouraging critical thinking.  Current enrollment exceeds 2,900 full and part-time students, and 1,600 continuing education students.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eat Your Art Out

Food Improv: Where the Performing Arts Meet the Culinary Arts 
To benefit Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater programs and financial aid.
Thursday June 28
Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate
Individual $75 & Couples $125
Tickets available at the door or online. 

A Tasting Style Event featuring 
Cold Stone Creamery of Middletown
Eli Cannon's Tap Room
A Little Imagination Cakes
It's Only Natural Restaurant
Klekolo World Coffee
Mattabasset Canoe Club
Miya Sushi
New England Emporium
NoRA Cupcakes
The Riverhouse at Goodspeed
Thomas Hooker Brewery

Special thanks to our Special Event Producer Sponsors Citizens Bank and CT Rental 

ARTFARM's Shakespeare Everywhere!

Photo Credit Bill Dekine
The global economy remains a mess. But Middletown based theater company
ARTFARM hasn’t let financial woes hamper its style. The organization’s goal of
providing world class Shakespeare to the Connecticut River Valley will be realized
once again this summer, not just in the Grove, but Everywhere!

This year, with the generous help of the Middletown Commission on the Arts and
Pratt & Whitney, ARTFARM will be presenting Shakespeare “guerilla-style” under
the title Shakespeare Everywhere! ARTFARM’s troupe of Shakespeareans is poised to appear unannounced at a variety of public concerts, events and performances
in Middletown throughout July. The actors will perform monologues, songs, and
brief scenes before re-boarding ARTFARM’s iconic green bus and setting off. Each performance is uniquely tailored to the themes of the event, the venue, and the occasion. From Occupy Shakespeare to Bicycle Shakespeare to Circus Shakespeare--
-prepare to see it all this summer in Middletown!

Additionally, community members are invited to perform with the Ensemble at
an undisclosed location on July 5th. Interested folks ages 7 through adult should
contact ARTFARM for secret details.

ARTFARM Artistic Director Marcella Trowbridge, says “Shakespeare’s works are
timeless: the circumstances, the characters, the ethical dilemmas. Bringing these
bite size bits of art to the community through flashmob-style Shakespeare is like
riding a live wire. The company is thrilled to play in these innovative new forums,
keeping Shakespeare alive and accessible- of the people, by the people and for the

At the same time, people anywhere are being invited by ARTFARM to join
Shakespeare Everywhere by performing ‘Random Acts of Shakespeare’ in public
places. Join the fun by speaking bits of Shakespeare’s text, be they scenes, sonnets,
monologues, couplets or just favorite lines anywhere and everywhere.

ARTFARM is encouraging adults and young people from all walks of life to
perform their Shakespeare in parks, on busses, at grocery stores, on mountain
tops and anywhere they dare. If you can, document it and send ARTFARM footage.
Untraditional interpretations, multi media events, dance, music, everything is
encouraged – the idea is to bring the words and characters of Shakespeare off the
page, off the stage, and into everyday life. Each week in July, our favorite recorded
performance will be awarded a prize and be invited to perform with the company
on August 5.

The final part of ARTFARM’s Shakespeare Everywhere! will take place on Sunday,
August 5th at 5 pm in the scenic cedar grove at Middlesex Community College. The
company will perform Shakespeare Everywhere: The Compleate Work, a showcase
of the various scenes for those who missed them in July (or wish to see them again!
) plus more special surprises. The show will be preceded by live music by Dueto
Luna y Sol, featuring Carlos Hernandez Chavez and Lupita Luna, and the entire event
will be accompanied by the ARTFARM Irregular Orchestra. The Compleate Work,
which will be hosted by WNPR radio personality Chion Wolf, will be a recounting of
a month of public adventures with Shakespeare in Middletown and throughout the
world. In the spirit of ARTFARM’s Shakespeare in the Grove of the past six summers,
families are encouraged to arrive early, bring blankets or lawn chairs and enjoy a
picnic while watching the show.

For hints about WHEN and WHERE you’ll find Shakespeare this summer, like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter @ARTFARMpresents. Don’t be surprised if you
find words from the Bard on the table the next time you dine out or stop at a coffee
shop or even in your work place…Keep an eye out for Shakespeare Everywhere.

Photo Credit: Bill Dekine

ARTFARM’s mission is to cultivate high-quality theater with a commitment to
simple living, environmental sustainability and social justice.

Shakespeare Everywhere! is co-sponsored by the Humanities and Arts Division of
Middlesex Community College. Additional funding is provided by Pratt and Whitney
and the Middletown Commission on the Arts.
For more information contact ARTFARM at (860) 346-4390, or

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Free Outdoor Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba Folk Concert on Thursday July 5

Founded 10 years ago in the South Bronx by lead singer and percussionist Alex LaSalle, the intergenerational band Alma Moyo performs Afro-Puerto Rican bomba folk music featuring dynamic drumming, dancing, and rich vocals. 

Click here to watch a video of Alma Moyo.

“With the heart and soul of Puerto Rican music, Alma Moyo generates life, heat and love.”
My Latino Voice

Alma Moyo
Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 7pm
CFA Courtyard, 283 Washington Terrace
Rain Location: Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue
Bring a picnic, then dance with family and friends! For more information, please call 860-685-3355 or visit

Joseph Cassella to be new WWMS Principal

As reported by Middletown Patch earlier today, Wesley Elementary School Principal Joseph Cassella has been appointed as the new Principal at Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

Details at:

Commentary: As a parent of Wesley students for the past half-dozen years, our family experienced a very well-run school with tremendous spirit, great teachers, active families, and a terrific learning environment. Joe Cassella's leadership is a great asset for Middletown's schools.

at left: Joseph Cassella at Wesley School 5th Grade Promotion, June 19, 2012.
(photo by Joseph Getter)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

River Paddle, Saturday June 30

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art invites the public to a canoe and kayak paddle on the lower Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers this Saturday, June 30. The tour launches at 9 a.m. onto the Connecticut River from the boathouse ramp at 46 Harbor Drive in Middletown. Paddlers should return to the starting point within 3 hours after launching.

In addition to learning about the ecology of the river and freshwater tidal wetlands, participants will search for invasive and harmful water chestnut plants that have been found in other stretches of the river. Paddlers need to provide their own boats, paddles, drinking water, sunscreen, and life jackets.

To help cover insurance costs for this event, each participant is asked to make a $10 donation to the Jonah Center. In case of cancellation due to bad weather, the trip will be held on July 14 at 9 a.m. Call 860-398-3771 for more information or about possible weather-related postponement.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Video: 15th Annual Car Show

In case you missed the car show on Main Street on Wednesday evening... or just want to re-live it... here's a quick little video of some of the sights.


MxCC Offers New Veterinary Technology Program

Connecticut residents looking for careers in veterinary technology have a new option for educational training: earning an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology at Middlesex Community College.  The Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education voted this week to approve a new Associate’s Degree program for veterinary technology at the College, beginning in the fall 2012 semester.   MxCC will be the second school in Connecticut to offer a degree in this field (along with Northwestern Connecticut Community College).

The new degree at MxCC will provide students with classroom, laboratory, and hands-on clinical experiences at Pieper Memorial Veterinary Center in Middletown.  After completing the degree program, students will be well prepared for entry-level employment in veterinary offices, zoos, wildlife rehabilitation centers, research facilities, biological research facilities, drug and feed manufacturing companies, or in the animal production industry.  MxCC intends to apply for program accreditation from American Veterinary Medical Association.  This rigorous quality assessment will be conducted at a future time.

Monthly Swing and Blues Dance at Vinnies

If' the weather isn't warm enough for you, then today is the perfect opportunity to get your sizzle on at Vinnie's Jump and Jive on Main Street. Tonight Vinnie's is proud to present their monthly Swing and Blues dance starting at 9 and going until 12. If you are a beginner or think you're a little rusty, stop by at 8:30 for a free beginners lesson.

Music will be DJed by the incredible Camille Fontanella, and light refreshments will be served throughout the evening. The cost is 8$ regular admission, and 5$ for seniors/students. Come join us in making these summer nights sultry!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Extraordinary Musicians at The Buttonwood Tree this Weekend: Joe Flood and Dan Arcamone Jazz

Joe Flood - Friday June 22 at 8pm

Joe Flood will be returning to The Buttonwood Tree with Joe Fonda on upright bass and
Scott Kessel, drumship enterprise!
Playing a variety of stringed instruments, Joe Flood delivers original material in what Karen Schoemer in the New York Times called “a gravelly voice that perfectly straddles the fence between country and the blues.” His songs inhabit a place where folk and blues roots meet the craft of Tin Pan Alley and the soul of the street. They have been covered by artists as diverse as the New Orleans style jazz band The Flying Neutruinos and Alt Country Chanteuse Laura Cantrell. His individual style has made him a favored co-writer of Levon Helm of the legendary group The Band as well as producer/guitarist Eric “Roscoe” Ambel.

$15    Seating is limited.  Sorry, credit cards are not accepted at the door.

Dan Arcamone Jazz - Saturday June 23 at 8pm

With a new album recently released, Dan Arcamone will be playing a mix of compositions from all three of his albums and jazz standards. Dan Arcamone’s music is filled with memorable melodies and the group naturally shifts from powerful guitar-lead rock to delicate, spacious soundscapes.
What you’ll hear from THIS show: high energy modern jazz infused with elements of rock music.
Dan Arcamone – guitar
Sean Nowell – tenor saxophone
Henry Lugo – bass
Nadav Snir-Zelniker – drums

North End Farmers Market Opens Season, Offers Double Dollars and Kids Market Programs

North End Farmers Market will open its season this Friday with over a dozen vendors selling
fresh bread, milk, eggs, produce, flowers and more! From 12-1 pm, there will be prepared lunch
offering from Tandoor Indian Restaurant and soulful music by local musician, David Davis.

The Market will once again be offering its Double Dollars Incentive Program, which matches the
amount of money spent by customers using federal and state benefits, bringing more food into
the homes of families. Additionally, the market will offer our North End Kids Market program to
North End youth. This innovative program gives the kids involved tokens to shop at our farmers
market and teaches them about the environment, eating healthy, budgeting and the importance
of knowing where your food comes from.

DATE & TIME: Friday June 22, 2012. 10 AM – 2 PM.
The market is held every Friday through the end of October.

LOCATION: Corner of Main St. and Liberty St., Middletown, CT.

The Farmers Market is a project of the North End Action Team. It is made possible through partnerships with CT Department of Agriculture and Wholesome Wave. The North End Kids Market is supported by the Rockfall Foundation and the City of Middletown.

Wholesome Wave is a national nonprofit, working to increase access to and affordability of
fresh, local produce in underserved areas while supporting local farms.

House Concert Coming


 Niamh Parsons & Graham Dunne

Sunday, June 24 at 3pm
The Mattabesett Canoe Club, 80 Harbor Dr., Middletown
Suggested donation: $20 general, $10 students, $7 children 12 & under
For reservations, please call Jody Cormack 860-983-7963
or email
(come early for a wonderful lunch or spoil your dinner with appetizers, on the riverfront!)

          Niamh Parsons has come to be known as one of the most distinctive voices in Irish music. Her voice has drawn  comparisons to such venerated singers as Dolores Keane, June Tabor and Sandy Denny. The great Scottish balladeer Archie Fisher said of Niamh, "a songstress like her comes along once or twice in a generation." It has been said that Niamh Parsons may not be the most famous Irish Balladeer, but many feel she's the best. Described in the Boston Herald as both emotionally haunting and tonally as clear as crystal, Niamh's albums have been 'must-have' collector's items for any lover of songs and singing. Niamh has recorded six studio albums and one live album to date. For the last 9 years, Niamh has been playing in a duet with Ennis-based Graham Dunne—there is a spiritual bond between Niamh and Graham when they perform, which draws out the essence of the songs. Growing up in Dublin, Niamh's music loving parents brought herself and her sister to the local folk club in The Old Shieling Hotel in Raheny, where the young girls were exposed to songs and singing from the likes of The Johnstons, Emmet Spiceland, Sweeney's Men, Dolly McMahon, Danny Doyle and many of the other musicians and singers that were playing in Folk clubs at that ti Throughout her career, Niamh has performed with a wide variety of artists, and has appeared at nearly every prestigious folk festival on either side of the Atlantic. As a member of the traditional Irish band Arcady (led by De Dannan's Johnny "Ringo" McDonagh), she sang on their Shanachie recording Many Happy Returns. She appeared before President Clinton and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern in Capitol Hill, Washington, joined Grammy Award winner Paul Winter for an album and a summer concert in New York, and performed on "A Prairie Home Companion" when the show broadcast live from Dublin. For more information, go to
Young Dubliner Graham Dunne is a well-known guitarist in the Irish Traditional music scene. He is known for his sensitivity of touch as an accompanist, and his fiery ability as a soloist. Based in Ennis, Graham works as a full time guitarist with Niamh Parsons. For a year he worked with Sean Tyrell with whom he toured Ireland, France and Belgium, as well as working on the music for a documentary entitled "Necklace of Wrens"- a biographical account of the poet Michael Hartnett. In the summer of 1999, he performed in Sean's critically acclaimed musical revival of "The Midnight Court" in Galway's Premier Theatre Venue, The Town Hall. He regularly worked with the Mary Custy Band who are based in Ennis, where he can often be found in sessions around the area. For the past nine years, Graham has been working with top traditional vocalist Niamh Parsons with whom he has toured the UK, Germany, Holland, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, USA, Australia and Ireland. Graham is also the featured guitarist on Niamh's last four albums -'In My Prime' which was nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Album of the Year award and also for the AIFM Album of the Year award in the USA. The second album, 'Heart's Desire', received rave reviews upon its release in May 2002. Produced by top guitarist Dennis Cahill, Graham can be heard here delivering two sets of tunes - a set of reels and a self-penned set of jigs. Accompanied by Dennis, these instrumentals add greatly to the album's musical content. In addition, Graham can be heard on Niamh's most recent albums, "Old Simplicity" and Live at Flyde. In 2001 Graham arranged and recorded a set of jigs with famed piper Mick Coyne, on the album 'Both sides of the Coyne'. Graham also enjoys playing jazz with Mick when he is not touring with Niamh. In summer of 2002, Graham attended the Louis Stewart Jazz School in Kilbaha, Co. Clare where he played the closing concert as part of a guitar quintet featuring Louis himself. In September 2004, Graham released his first solo CD - GIOTÁRAÍ - on his own label Gramsham Records.

Upcoming house concerts:
July 28th (Sat.) Dermot Byrne, Floriane Blancke, Brid Harper 
Sept. 15th (Sat. 8pm) Paddy Keenan
Oct. 15 or 16 (Tues. or Wed. 8pm) John Doyle
Nov. 2 (Friday 8pm) Cathal McConnell and Gerry O’Conner

It's nice to see Ms. Cormack has a new home for her "House Concerts". More space gives her the opportunity for larger audiences and more flexibility in choosing entertainers.  Good for her, good for the audiences of Celtic music and good for Middletown!

Cruise Night Photos

The 15th annual Cruise Night was a busy affair on a hot first day of summer.

Main Street was clogged by cars and legions of their admirers. The cars included some loving restored to showroom condition, and others chopped and souped into hotrod glory.

Below the jump for more pictures.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Free Family Film Festival at Rave Cinemas Berlin 12 Starts June 25th

Calling all movie lovers (or parents who are wondering what the heck to do with their kids now that school is out)!!!

The Rave Cinemas in Berlin is opening its doors at 9:30am on Mondays and Thursdays for 9 weeks of free G or PG rated movies.  The list of movies and dates is as follows, all movies start at 10am:

6/25 and 6/28:  Cats and Dogs
7/2 and 7/5:  Legend of the Guardians
7/9 and 7/12: Yogi Bear
7/16 and 7/19:  Happy Feet Two
7/23 and 7/26:  Journey2 the Mysterious Island
7/30 and 8/2:  Dolphin Tale
8/6 and 8/9:  Shorts
8/13 and 8/16:  Inkheart
8/20 and 8/23:  Happy Feet

Rave Cinemas Berlin 12 is located at 19 Frontage Road, Berlin, and the phone is 860-829-1277.  If you have questions about the movie program, the email address is

See you there!

Independence Day Fireworks and Festival July 3

Mayor Drew announced that the City, along with the Commission on the Arts will be presenting a celebration of Independence Day on Tuesday, July 3rd this year. All downtown parking will be free during the event.

The pre-Independence Day Fireworks Festival will kick off at 6PM with music, activities for children, and select vendors. The fireworks will begin at 9:30PM.

Three groups will be performing, the Middletown High School Jazz Band, Sweet Daddy Cool Breeze, and the Middletown Symphonic Band. The Symphonic Band will also accompany the fireworks.

Rain date is Friday, July 6 for the fireworks.