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With Diverse Musical Palette, The Painters Return to Collinsville on Sept. 9

Corey Lynn Tucker Photography

Corey Lynn Tucker Photography

By John Fitts 

Dan O’Brien, Mike Suddes, Silvain Castellano and George Mastrogiannis, collectively known as The Painters, certainly draw from a diverse palette.

Several of these gentlemen could actually paint your home and do it quite nicely but it’s on the musical stage where their art really shines. The band is making a name for itself with mostly original material that is heavily steeped in jazz but cultivates other influences, such as funk, rock and even classical.

Like many jazz artists who love to freely improvise, the group is always carefully straddling that line between traditional and contemporary genres.

“It sort of treads that (free improvisational) territory but it also treads traditionalism in some ways,” said O’Brien, a 2008 Canton High School graduate. “What I think we’re trying to do is find these middle ground areas. It deals with jazz, it deals with improvisation, it deals with rock, it deals a lot of different things at the same time, at varying levels.”

And over the past two years, the band members have really begun to find their stride, equally adept in free-form jazz or slightly more conventional realm. In addition to a steady selection of originals the band loves to put a new spin on popular music.

“I like how we kind of straddle this line between the open free and the straight ahead and we try to meet in the middle,” added Mastrogiannis, a Canton resident who is the band’s drummer.  … Continue Reading

Little Free Library Adds to Community Feel on Dyer Avenue

By John Fitts 

Benjamin Hollenbeck cuts the ribbon for the Little Free Library. Photo courtesy of the Hollenbeck family

Benjamin Hollenbeck cuts the ribbon for the Little Free Library.
Photo courtesy of the Hollenbeck family

CANTON — As a first-grade teacher, Sarah Hollenbeck knows the value of literacy and for some time she wanted to open a “Little Free Library.”

Started by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009, Little Free Libraries offer a public book exchange in neighborhoods, schools, businesses or other locales. They are based on the motto of “Take a book, leave a book” and today more than 40,000 are registered worldwide.

Earlier this summer, the Shoppes at Farmington Library debuted such a facility, a move that inspired Hollebeck and her family to finally debuted their own structure at their 100 Dyer Ave. home.

“I love books and reading and I want to promote literacy,” Hollenbeck said. … Continue Reading

FV Stage Pays Tribute to First Responders

Steve O’Brien and Virginia Wolf. Submitted Photo

Steve O’Brien and Virginia Wolf.
Submitted Photo

Submitted Release 

COLLINSVILLE– On the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, the Farmington Valley Stage Company will pay tribute to first responders, and all lives lost that day, with their production of Anne Nelson’s The Guys.  The production opens their 2016-17 season on Sept. 9, 16, 17 at 8 pm and Sept. 11 at 2 pm.


Less than two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, New Yorkers are still in shock.  One of them, an editor named Joan, receives an unexpected phone call on behalf of Nick, a fire captain who has lost most of his men in the attack.

He’s looking for a writer to help him with the eulogies he must present at their memorial services.  Nick and Joan spend a long afternoon together, recalling the fallen men through recounting their virtues and their foibles. and fashioning  the stories into memorials of words.

In the process, Nick and Joan discover the possibilities of friendship in each other and their shared love for the unconquerable spirit of the city.  As they make their way through the emotional landscape of grief, they draw on humor, tango, the appreciation of craft in all its forms – and the enduring bonds of common humanity.  … Continue Reading

Potter Looks to Spread Love of Art Form at New Studio

By John Fitts

CANTON — Early on, Laura Brees’ nomadic spirit was infused with a love of pottery.

As a young girl of 9 or 10 she was in the Utah with her family when her dad found some clay, demonstrated the art of molding a simple “pinch pot,” later strengthened by some time in the fire pit.

There might not have been an epiphany right there in the desert but the seeds of a life passion were sown.

Today, Brees is looking to share that love of pottery with others and recently opened Stoneware Alchemy in the Historic 44 Marketplace in Canton.

“I love the idea of taking nothing –  just a ball of clay, dirt essentially – and forming it into something beautiful that you can use in your everyday life,” Brees said. “I love art of all kinds. I experiment with and play with all kinds of different things but I’m mostly drawn to pottery. I like the idea of a piece of art that has a story of its own – from the hands that created it –  to all the stories and memories infused in it by people using it every day. It’s just a transference of energy.” … Continue Reading

Second Annual Hike to the Mic Set for Aug. 27, 28

Submitted Release 

The Friends of Heublein Tower, Inc. are pleased to announce the dates and confirmed bands for the second annual Hike to the Muc – Music and Arts Happening at the Heublein Tower – Aug. 27 and 28, 2016 from noon to Sunset with a special Sunday morning Jazz set from 10 am to 12 pm on Sunday the 28.

This donation suggested event will reward those who journey the trails through Talcott Mountain State Park to the Heublein Tower with great musical entertainment, fantastic food vendors and the “royal view” from one of Connecticut’s premier hiking destinations.

Headlining the event Saturday as the sunsets will be CT’s own jam rock heroes McLovins! Also on the bill will be, Will Evans, Atlas Grey, Wise Old Moon, Photosynthesis, Kais & Dollz, The KC Sisters, The Girls from Ruby Falls, Belle of the Fall, Now for Ages, Ragtop Doozey and The Michael Cleary Band.  The Sunday morning jazz segment will be curated by Kris Jensen and Chris Casey and will feature local jazz greats.  Check in with www.hiketothemic.com to find out all the details. … Continue Reading

Diverse Musical Stylings a Key Ingredient to Collinsville Hot

13709880_10208663254332380_1724271322483382302_nThis site’s Collinsville Hot coverage has been graciously sponsored by Carol and Co., D.A.N.C.E. by Kristin and Ward Kilduff Mortgage.

By John Fitts 

There will be certainly be no shortage or variety of music and entertainment at this year’s Collinsville Hot.

Nearly 20 musical acts will grace the two primary stages, and a third smaller one, at the second annual festival in downtown Collinsville on July 16.

Styles include rock, funk, jazz, folk, soul, bluegrass and reggae. Some groups are regularly seen in Collinsville while others stop by less often. There’s even several regional and nationally renowned musicians in the mix.

All the musicians on the main stage in the town hall parking lot, and many of those on the River Street stage, have a direct connection to Downright Music and Art, said co-owner Andrew Decker. In the 10 years the business has been in Collinsville, their musical seeds have spread widely.

“It’s kind of cool,” Decker said. “Everyone on the Main Stage has some type of connection to Downright,” said Decker, who added that business co-owner Naomi Kravitz has spent months coordinating the acts. … Continue Reading

Canton High School Student Cast in Breakdancing Shakespeare at Hartford Stage

Emma Webb

Emma Webb

Submitted Release 

Hartford Stage Young Company, in conjunction with the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Neighborhood Studios, has announced the cast and performance dates for Breakdancing Shakespeare. In celebration of its tenth year of the program, the company will stage a new production of Romeo and Juliet, which was the first Breakdancing Shakespeare show in 2006. Three public performances will be held at Hartford Stage August 11 through 13.

Canton High School student Emma Webb, 17, has been cast as Mercutio.

The tragic tale of two young star-crossed lovers, whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families, is one of William Shakespeare’s most popular and most frequently performed plays.

… Continue Reading

Avon Summer Theater presents ‘The Wedding Singer’

Cast members of “The Wedding Singer” working with Music Director Diana Lawler l to r. Kelsey Beadle, Ryan Cullilgan, Miles Messier, A.J. Sisson, Ben Berman and Alex Simmons.

Cast members of “The Wedding Singer” working with Music Director Diana Lawler
l to r. Kelsey Beadle, Ryan Cullilgan, Miles Messier, A.J. Sisson, Ben Berman and Alex Simmons.

Submitted Release 

 This summer’s production of The Wedding Singer marks the 56th continuous summer musical presented by Avon Summer Theater.  A talented group of over 40 students from area schools, including Farmington HS, Avon HS, Canton HS, Classical Magnet School, Miss Porter’s, Kingswood Oxford, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Talcott Academy, have come together to present this fun comedy based on the hit movie and featuring 80’s-style music.

For five weeks, the group works on a summer musical, which always draws an enthusiastic audience.  Considered by many of the students to be the best part of their summer, the program not only includes evening rehearsals, but also sponsors many activities encouraging the students to form a tight community, which helps them to perform better as a company.  They watch movies, go bowling and get together after rehearsals to have a good time.  Students not only return to AST for another great summer the following year, but they form friendships which last year-round and into college, going to support each other’s school shows and other events. … Continue Reading

Connecticut Native Brings Eclectic Music to Bridge Street Live Thursday Night

Mike Cobb & The Crevulators are at Bridge Street Live Thursday night.

Mike Cobb & The Crevulators are at Bridge Street Live Thursday night.

By John Fitts 

In his 26 years of playing music, guitarist and songwriter Mike Cobb has played numerous shows but few in his home state.

On Thursday night, the Norfolk native will rectify that situation when he brings his band The Crevulators to Bridge Street Live for his first public show in Connecticut.

“We perform regularly at New York’s finer honky tonks and are really excited to come back and play my home state,” Cobb said.

It won’t however, be Cobb’s first visit to Bridge Street Live.

“I’ve seen shows there and it’s a great space,” he said.  … Continue Reading

Images of Canton: The Kenn Morr Band Kicks Off Canton’s Summer Concert Series

Most Photos by John Fitts (Additional Photography by Jacob Fitts)

CANTON — With an eclectic Americana sound heavily focused on original music The Kenn Morr Band kicked off the Canton Parks and Recreation Department summer concert series on Thursday evening.

The series, bolstered by sponsors, runs over 8 weeks Thursday evenings this summer. Sponsors include Those local sponsors include Collinsville Savings Society, The Canton Lions Club, Acura of Avon, Cake Gypsy and Mark & Stacey VanDeusen. … Continue Reading


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