Music on the shoreline is as diverse as the shoreline. As always, it starts in New Haven. These days the best part of The Scene in New haven focuses around Café Nine of State Street. Café Nine has one of the strongest commitments to music in the state. They often have two or three acts a day. Many of them have just pulled off I-95 on their “tours.” Acoustics are great, and you can catch virtually every genre on any given day. I am also a huge fan of classical, so I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to The New Haven Symphony Orchestra. Like most orchestras, they also do a wide variety of shows, including tributes to Broadway and movie musicals. But reality is, catching a performance of Brahms in Battell Chapel is pretty awesome.
Heading out to the New London area, we get another great scene. New London has one of the biggest scenes when it comes to music and the arts in general. The Bank Street Café and The Bulkeley House are out in front here with open mikes, as well as cover and original bands as well. The Garde Arts Center is a great option as well. Their performances cover the full spectrum from kids shows, to performances by the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and performances by national touring acts as well. Now I am going to connect the dots with a few of our hidden gems.
The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center: The Kate is just an amazing place. Simulcasts of “The Met,” national touring acts, and some of the best local music. Executive Director Chuck Still has done an amazing job over the past five years. Everything about The Kate is top notch, and one of the coolest things to me is that when they get a great band that you can dance to, they will pull the first eight or so rows of chairs to reveal one of the best dance floors in the state.
The Scene on the shoreline is coming back strong. New “clubs” (actually bars and restaurants, but the music types call them “clubs”) are opening up, and the established ones are stepping up the pace as well. Here’s the 411 on the best places for music.
The Chowder Pot III has been a mainstay for as long as I can remember, but you can also hit the floor at La Luna as well.
Augur’s Pub has some very talented acoustic acts, and my favorite hang, The Country Tavern has open mikes and bands once or twice a month. The Mooring down at “The Docks” has been totally renovated, and is bringing in some very talented bands.
Donahue’s Madison Beach Grill Open Mike Wednesdays (actually my favorite night, as they get some of the best players from across the state). Friday and Saturday night features the best in local bands, mostly “party” bands that pack the dance floor. Sundays are very cool in the fact that they bring in bands that you can really dance to. Dances like cha cha, rumba, East and West Coast Swing kind of thing.
Rocky’s Aqua on the Water has music Friday nights during the season.
The King of Music is without a doubt, Bill’s Seafood. The only night they don’t have music is Tuesday night, cuz, well, it’s Quiet Night. Other than that, they have some- thing for everyone. Mondays are Big Band Swing, Fridays are Jazz, and the other nights you will find some extremely talented performers as well. The new kid on the block is The Upper Deck. Although they do not offer it every weekend, when they do, they bring in some of the best in the state. They also charge a mini- mum cover as well. For the record, when it comes to covers, I am in favor of them when they are in the $3-$5 range. After all, it’s business, and if I have to pay to see the best, I am cool with that.
The Back Porch is another great place for music—during the season, that is. They have music Wednesday through Sunday, and it is literally out on “the back porch.” Inclement weather moves the music inside.
Love the fact that Burke’s Tavern is making a comeback. This used to be the place. They are rebuilding what they once had, and it is great to see that level of commitment.
October sees the beginning of the annual Musical Masterworks Series, now in it’s 23rd season. Musical Masterworks celebrates the beauty of Chamber Music and showcases some of the genre’s masters such as Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi. The series begins on the weekend of October 25 and runs through the first weekend in May.
So, that’s really a quick look. There are so many other great places, but not enough time. Remember, as I mentioned, “The Scene” is also a business. If you don’t go out and support it, it will go away.
Image Credits: Photo by Vincent Scarano