Wednesday, September 20, 2017

PAC Created to Support Building of New Middle School

A group of Middletown residents have created a political action committee to urge fellow residents to vote "yes" on a referendum item to fund the building of a new middle school.  The referendum question will appear on the ballot.  A "yes" vote favors building a new middle school.

The PAC, called MiddleSchoolYes, has created a website to disseminate information, and to collect a small amount of money to fund the printing of campaign handouts.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Saturday Jazz (Up Close + Solo)

Pianist, composer, educator, and author (he also plays guitar and sings) Noah Baerman is the curator of Jazz Up Close!, a program sponsored by the Russell Library, the Shoreline Arts Alliance, the Middletown Commission on the Arts (and others. This Saturday September 23, Mr. Baerman, alto saxophonist Kris Allen, and bassist Henry Lugo welcome Brazilian-born drummer and percussionist Rogério Boccato for the "Crossing Cultures" program to take place at 1:30 p.m. in the Hubbard Room of the Russell Library, 123 Broad Street.

Boccato, who has worked and/or and recorded dozens of contemporary musicians including bassist John Pattitucci, composer Maria Schneider's Orchestra, vocalist Michael Franks, and UCONN/Storrs Professor of Music Earl MacDonald, teaches at the Manhattan School of Music and has served on the Percussion Faculty at the Hartt School/University of Hartford.  He also has a long association with artists from his home country including Milton Nascimento, Dori Caymmi, Hermeto Pascoal, and the late Antonio Carlos Jobim.

This should be a fascinating concert, with good insights into the world of percussion and creative music.  Bring your questions!  For more information, go to

Here's Senhor Boccato playing with Hartford natives Luques & Zaccai Curtis (The Curtis Brothers) on their "Completion of Proof" album:

Pianist, composer, and educator Laszlo Gardony returns to The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street in Middletown, on Saturday (9/23) at 8 p.m. for a concert of solo piano music.  Professor Gardony, who is on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, is a frequent visitor to The Buttonwood.  He's in town to celebrate the release of his latest Sunnyside Records album, "Serious Play", a delightful collection of works including a number of originals and standards such as "Georgia on My Mind" and John Coltrane's "Naima."  The pianist pays with great fire, great emotion and has a lifetime love for melody and improvisation. I know for a fact he loves playing in the intimate performance space because of the receptive audiences and how close people sit.  

For ticket information, go to or call 860-347-4957. To find out more about the pianist, go to

Here is the title track of his splendid new album:

Monday, September 18, 2017

Board of Education Votes to Hire Dr. Michael T. Conner As New Superintendent

At a special meeting on Monday night September 18, The Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Dr. Michael T. Conner as new superintendent of schools for Middletown.  Board members Linda Szynkowicz and Cheryl McClellan were not present for the vote. Common Council members Gene Nocera, Gerry Daley, Deb Kleckowski and Bob Santangelo were among the many members of the public, teachers, principals, administrators and city leaders who were in the room for the vote.  Mayor Dan Drew was not present.

Conner will replace Pat Charles who will be retiring in November.

The public vote at the Monday's followed a unanimous vote by the selection committee.

Conner thanked the Board and the city for welcoming him, and his family to the city.

Conner has been in Norwalk since 2015, working under Superintendent Steven Adamowski.  Conner also worked for Adamowski in Windham where Adamowski was appointed as "Special Master" by the State Department of Education after Windham failed to meet state standards in test score improvement.  As a result, the State designated Windham a "turnaround" district and took control of the Board of Education.

In Norwalk, where Conner was Chief Academic Officer, the district recently reported closing the achievement gap by one-third.

New Schools Superintendent

From a profile in 2015
The Eye has learned that Dr. Michael T. Conner has been selected to lead the City's public schools. Conner is Chief Academics Officer for the Norwalk schools under Steven Adamowski.  He previously worked with Adamowski in Windham.

The Board of Education will vote on Conner's hiring at their meeting tonight (7:30 PM, Council Chambers).

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Buttonwood tree goes ELECTRIC for BOB DYLAN!!

Suzanne Sheridan Band

September 15      810 pm

The music of BOB DYLAN tonight at TBT!
Some singers sing but there are others who possess powers beyond putting notes to words. When Suzanne Sheridan sings you could swear she knows you, that she is singing to you, that she understands your soul. And she is also a great entertainer.
She is uniquely a philosopher/songwriter in her own right and a performer who knows how to cover the music of other great songwriters including Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, and James Taylor.
You will be treated to all the above and probably some surprises as she returns to The Buttonwood Tree with her band, The Suzanne Sheridan Band – Bob Cooper on keyboards; Colin Healy on fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and backup vocals; and Paul Horton on electric lead guitar.

Ann Sweeten: Solo Piano Concert

September 16      8 - 9:30 pm

Includes a reception after the concert.

After nearly 20 years of enamoring audiences on the Concert stage and on Radio/Internet Airwaves, Ann Sweeten’s  signature style is recognized world-wide and now her new album, Where Butterflies Dance is without question her most ambitious and successful to date.  Will Ackerman, co-producer, had this to say: There is no greater compliment I can give any musician than to say they have their own artistic voice.  They are uniquely themselves and bring something utterly their own to the world.  Ann Sweeten is one of those rare musicians.  The grace one associates with Ann’s performance has been matched by what I believe are the best melodies of her career.  At a time when many artists might choose to coast on their notoriety, Ann  has raised the bar considerably and we, the listeners, are the beneficiaries of her ambition and skill.   Really brilliant.

One of the most decorated pianists of the past decade with 7 previous albums all ranking in the Top 5 NAR and ZMR Radio Reports, Sweeten is also one of the most played modern instrumentalists in North America. A truly well-rounded individual and artist, Ms. Sweeten is a staunch environmentalist, animal activist and vegetarian. In addition to her Concert and Recording career, she is also a professional actress/singer/dancer with Actor’s Equity Association.  Ann Sweeten is herself a Breast Cancer survivor twice over and is involved with the Arts in Healthcare Initiative.

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center
605 Main Street / PO Box 71, Middletown, CT 06457 / 860.347.4957 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Video Of Main Street Stroll

Last Saturday, hundreds of people enjoyed live music, arts, children's activities, and a parade on Main Street. The event was organized by Wesleyan, and many of Main Street's businesses eagerly participated.  The stores and restaurants were full.

Aldon Hynes, Community Health Center's Wondrous Wizard of Widgets, shot video of the parade.

DJI_0001 from Community Health Center, Inc. on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Meet and Greet Democratic Candidates, September 18

Action Together – Middlesex County and the Greater Middletown Young Democrats will be hosting a Meet the Candidates night for the democratic candidates running for Board of Education and Planning & Zoning in Middletown, CT.
The event will be held on Monday, September 18th in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library (123 Broad St. Middletown, CT) with a reception at 6:00PM and panel questions beginning promptly at 6:30.
This will be a great opportunity to learn about the candidates running and what their vision is for Middletown.

Please submit questions to:

Ballot Set For November 7 Election

The Democratic and Republican registrars held a lottery this morning at City Hall to determine the order of names on the ballot for this year's municipal elections.

Deputy Democratic Registrar Bill Boyd stands by the results (click photo to enlarge).

Eye disclosure: The author is one of the candidates for Planning and Zoning Commission.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Strange Doorway to Another World Closes in Middletown -- The Colonel Carries On #100

by Bishop Fortunatianus, Bible commentator, and Matt N.A. Idol, heartthrob

Epigraph: “Why pay for what you can get for free?” --Passphrase to get into Louis’s Speakhard

“Hetti” is a nickname for the English girl’s names Harriet, Hester, and Henrietta, all of which derive from “Henry,” meaning “Lord of the Manor.”

Hetti Bywater’s formal name is Harriet Jessica P Bywater (born 10 September 1994). The “P” is apparently like the “S” in Harry S Truman: no following period and it stands for nothing but itself.

I know you’re racking your brain trying to remember who Hetti Bywater is. Well, let your brain off the rack. She’s that English actress best known for playing Lucy Beale in the BBC soap opera “East Enders.” Now it comes back to you!

Free Cooking Series to Highlight Local Veggies

The Middletown Urban Agriculture Project is a community-based project to enhance agriculture in the City, funded by a grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts. Project partners include Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Forest City Farms, Long Lane Farm, the City of Middletown, Middletown High School Agricultural Science and Technology Program, North End Action Team, the Macdonough and Farm Hill School Family Resource Centers, and the FoodCorps program.

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Middletown, CT, works to conserve the natural resources of towns in the lower Connecticut River watershed and coastal areas. For more information about District technical and educational programs and services, visit us at, or

Main Street Stroll on Saturday

This Saturday, September 9, is the Main Street Stroll!

It's a downtown event that showcases the businesses and organizations that make our little town great.  There will be music, magic, arts, & activities for all ages.

It's all FREE.

More that 40 different spots downtown are part of the Stroll - you can see and sort through it all at

Some highlights:

•  A community bike ride from 9 to 10 am, starting at Pedal Power.

•  Have Tea & Scones with Brian O'Rourke from 2:30 to 3:30 pm in his side garden and talk about town's past, present & future

•  There's a Sidewalk Parade at 12:30, making a loop starting at Holy Trinity Church.  We'll be led by a brass band called The Funky Dawgz.

•  If you're young (or young at heart) you can make a harmonica or decorate a hat or parasol to carry in the parade (crafts are happening at the Parade Prep HQ that we are setting up in the empty storefront at 420 Main.)

•  Have you always been curious about the stained glass windows at Holy Trinity Church?  They are giving tours from 10 am to 2 pm.

•  Are you a musician?  Bring your instrument and join the Jazz Jam with Noah Baerman, or the bluegrass and old time music jams, or sign up to play at the open mic in front of Holy Trinity.  If you are a songwriter, join Jess Best for a workshop at The Buttonwood.

•  Do you like to listen to music?  You have SO many options.  Some at the bookstore, some on the church lawn, some inside the shops around town.

You have to go to the website to see more!  See you on Main Street.

(Thanks to the City of Middletown, the Downtown Business District and Wesleyan University for funding this event!)

-Jen Alexander

Main Street Stroll Saturday, on Main Street, Of Course

Info and complete schedule here.

And an interactive schedule here.