Fried clams and Tuxedo Junction. Grilled swordfish and the Shiny Lapel Trio. Shrimp scampi and the Cartells. Those are just some of the seafood and music combinations offered at Bill’s Seafood in Westbrook six nights a week.
Tuesdays are the only quiet nights, musicwise, at Bill’s, the well-known family restaurant situated on the south side of the Singing Bridge, the span over the Patchogue River so nicknamed for the sound cars’ tires make while crossing its steel deck. Every other night, though, the sounds of jazz, R&B, rock, and other musical genres have drawn crowds to Bill’s for years, making it one of the most unique, and popular, venues along the shoreline.
They keep coming back for regular performers. Every Mon day, it’s the Big Swing Band with Tuxedo Junction. Wednesdays feature the Essex Corinthian Jazz Band. On Fridays, half the dining room is filled with the 15-piece Bill’s Seafood All-Star Band. On the first Saturday of every month, the Shiny Lapel Trio traverses the jazz landscape. The Cartells knock out an eclectic blend of styles every second Saturday.
“We get some world-class musicians,” says Mark Leopoldino, a West Hartford native who took a summer job at Bill’s 22 years ago and is now the general manager and music booker. “We have a great mix of music of all kinds that shows off lots of great local talent. We think it’s important to support local musicians and give our customers a place to hang out and hear great music.”
Called “the premier stride pianist in the USA” by Sirius XM Radio, there’s jazzy Jeff Barnhart, who plays Bill’s twice annually, at Christmastime and for 12 hours every St. Patrick’s Day. Bill’s helped launch 18-year-old guitar prodigy, P. J. Tautkus, who is now refining his Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan riffs at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music.
“We attract all kinds of people, of all age groups, who have different tastes of music,” Leopoldino says. “Whatever you like, you’re going to find it here.”
Oh, yeah, and that includes a vast seafood menu.
Image Credits: Illustration courtesy Shutterstock