Wednesday, May 22, 2019

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree Jazz Trio and an Evening of Folk Music

The Buttonwood Tree hosts events every night this week - from Tai chi to Middlesex Drum Circles.

Matt Dwonszky Trio

May 24 @ 8-10 pm | $12

Born in Hartford CT, Dwonszyk started playing the electric bass at the age eleven. In high school, he picked up the upright bass while attending the Greater Hartford Academy of Performing Arts and soon started attending the Artist Collective after school program founded by the legendary Jazz Saxophonist/Composer, Jackie McLean. Dwonszyk continued his collegiate studies at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz studying with world-renowned bassist Nat Reeves. He graduate and continued his studies at Suny Purchase where he received a Masters in Music in 2015. Dwonszyk currently lives in Brooklyn and is an active bassist in New York.
He has performed at the JVC Jazz Festival in NYC, the Baikal Jazz Festival (Yakutsk, Siberia), the NYC Winter Jazz Festival, Litchfield Jazz Festival, Hartford Jazz Festival, Jazz & Colors Festival (Metropolitan Museum of Art), The Kennedy Center, Smalls Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club, The Blue Note, Smoke Jazz Club and the Fat Cat. Dwonszyk has performed with Harold Mabern, Larry Willis, David Hazeltine, Anthony Wonsey, Rick Germanson, Pete Malinverni, Steve Wilson, Abraham Burton, Javon Jackson, Gary Smulyan, Bennie Wallace, Wayne Escoffery, Mike Diruboo, Myron Walden, John Farnsworth, Joe Farnsworth, Winard Harper, Joe Strasser, Eddie Henderson, Jumaane Smith, Wallace Roney, Terell Stafford, Steve Davis, Steve Turre, Freddie Hendrix and Duane Eubanks.
The trio consists of musicians whom Matt Dwonszyk went to school with and played with over the past ten years. The music that the trio plays has hints of Hard Bop, Latin Jazz, Bossa Nova, Funk and Modern Jazz. Details/Reserve here

Aligned with Source: A Personal Development Workshop & Meditation
May 25 @ 10:30-12 pm

Topic: Tapping into Higher Frequencies
A time to connect, and allow those aspects of your energy speak to you & guide.
Details here 
Official Facebook Page
Suggested Donation: $10 (Give what you can)

Music Workshop

May 25 @ 1-4 pm | $10

Bassist and Musician for 48 years, Rob DeSorbo began on the Connecticut music scene in the mid 70’s. He started playing Rock and Blues, grew into Jazz and Jazz Fusion. Blue Mountain Band (BMB) started 1971 (Rock / Blues) then (Fusion and Jazz) originals and continued until 1981. He spent the next 40+ years recording and doing Live Shows. He studied Music at the college level courses for 3 years in Simsbury High School. Music composition, theory and orchestral studies. Rob then continued his studies for 2 years at Hartt School of Music West Hartford, CT in Upright Bass studies and method, Additional Theory and Composition courses.

We will engage in music discussions, ear training, scales, modes, arpeggios, Circle of fifths and Fourth and practice methods. Chord structure and harmonic values in and around chords. All Instruments, vocals and skill levels welcome. Come enhance or add to your current education in music. Music is a never-ending study and accomplishment.

Check Out Rob’s Official Facebook Page!

Each session is $10 non-members, $5 members

The Buttonwood Tree is not bar it is a Cultural center to enlighten and educate.
Details here/Reserve seats

An Evening with Rupert Wates opened by Andrew Biagiarelli

May 25 @ 8-10 pm | $20 Reservations Suggested

Live at The Buttonwood Tree: Rupert Wates with Opening Act Andrew Biagiarelli
In the last couple of years, Rupert’s won the coveted ‘Artist Of The Year‘ award twice on the international house concert network Concerts In Your Home( Additionally, he’s performed as a finalist in the New Folk Song Contest at Kerrville, and played a showcase set as an Emerging Artist at Falconridge.  25 of his songs have been covered by other artists in the last three years alone, and two tribute albums to his material have been recorded by independent performers in Nashville and Los Angeles (details at  Rupert has recorded his 9th solo Cd, ‘The Lights Of Paris‘, with two string players who have played previously with Alicia Keyes, Philip Glass and the New York Metropolitan Opera.  The album has since been extensively reviewed in the international online press (
He averages 120 live shows a year, in every state in the US, in Canada and in Europe.
One of them will be live at Middletown’s North End – Buttonwood.
His Story:
Rupert Wates was born in London and studied at Oxford University. He has been a full time songwriter since the late 1990s, when he signed a publishing contract with Eaton Music Limited. His contract required him to write material in all kinds of styles and genres, for all kinds of artists including jazz vocalist Liz Fletcher. Moving in 2001 to Paris, Wates formed his own quartet and began playing live regularly. In fall 2006 he came to the US. He is now based in New York City and Colorado.
His music is an eclectic mix of acoustic, melodic art/folk, with flavors of jazz, vaudeville and cabaret.
Despite Wates’ British background, and underpinning the universality of his music’s appeal, Folk And Acoustic Music Exchange has called him “a prime figure in American music” ( and goes on: “This is one gifted sonofabitch… If you’re not hip to this guy yet you’re missing out.”
Award-winning singer-songwriter Rupert Wates home one gifted s.o.b. Mark S. Tucker FAME
Award-winning singer-songwriter Rupert Wates home Concerts In Your Home
“What a performance… It was a sheer delight to hear him…” (The Forwardian Arts Society)
“[His] narrative storytelling is superb — even by the highest folk music standards.”
(Jim Abbott, Orlando Sentinel)
“Truly gripping lyrics with great themes and troubling, witty messages. An inspirational artist.”
(Leith FM Radio 98.8 FM Scotland

Andrew Biagiarelli spent his early 20s traveling the American West with just a backpack and a guitar. Jamming around bonfires from Alaska to Colorado, he absorbed all the varied influences of his friends on the road. With a sound ranging in style from folk and blues to jazz-infused, his music is as varied as the landscapes of the American West. While living on a sailboat in the Caribbean, he assimilated reggae and calypso rhythms into his approach to songwriting. A natural storyteller, he weaves a tapestry of songs and tales of his travels into his live performances.

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center is located at 605 Main Street, Middletown. There is ample, free parking behind It's Only Natural market. Refreshments, viewing of Buttonwood's Art show, the bookstore and refreshments are all open and available. Call for info: (860) 347-4957. If you want to see what events we have lined up for the month check our website's event calendar here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Remembering Gerry Weitzman

If you grew up in Middletown or Central Connecticut in the twentieth century, you or your family probably used Pelton’s Drug Store. It was a family-run Main Street pharmacy that was part of the daily life and fabric of Middletown and the Wesleyan University community.
In 1972, Benjamin Weitzman turned over the pharmacy to his son Gerard, or “Gerry”, as everyone knew him. Gerry cared deeply about his community. If you worked for him, came to his store or were engaged in something that benefited the community, he was interested in you and, when he could, he was there to help.
The same year he took over Pelton’s, a few of us from Middletown and Wesleyan were trying to start a free clinic. I walked into Pelton’s and introduced myself and told him what we were trying to do – it wasn’t a long talk, and frankly, I didn’t think it was that inspiring – but later that day, Gerry drove up to our storefront and unloaded his trunk which was filled with medical supplies.
Gerry wanted to help, and boy did he! He became a founding member of our Board of Directors, along with his good friend Reba Moses. He always joked that he liked hanging out with us because we had long hair – let’s say he came up very short in that area! But truth be told, he chose us because he genuinely cared about people who didn’t have access to health care because of poverty or historical discrimination.
Anne Frank said, “Our lives are fashioned by our choices. First, we make our choices. Then our choices make us.” He knew the system was unfair, and he wanted to make it better. His commitment over the next 27 years helped shape the Community Health Center. From that first day, till he and his lovely wife Babs were taken from us on May 21, 1999, he was a friend, advisor, and a champion of how we should live life.
Since his passing, the Health Center formed the Weitzman Institute in his honor ( Our work is fueled by his faith in us and the proposition that every idea that can help those in need should be explored and evaluated, and those ideas that can make a difference should be shared far and wide.
How proud I am to have known him and to see his namesake institute change the health care delivery system across America. To our friend – thank you. We will not forget you.
Peace and Health,
Mark Masselli

Photo of  Mark Masselli, Reba Moses, Gerry Weitzman

Monday, May 20, 2019

Photos Of South Main Street Fire

A fire broke out on Sunday afternoon in an office building at the corner of Burr and South Main Street Sunday afternoon. All three fire districts responded.

The following photos were sent to us by Patti Vassia.

Vinal Students to Offer Free Tech Support at City Hall Thursday

From Bryan Skowera, City IT director

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Brian Stewart To Speak On “Tipping Points”

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art and The Rockfall Foundation invite the public to an evening with Wesleyan Physics Professor Brian Stewart on Monday, May 20, 7 – 8:30 p.m. in the deKoven House at 27 Washington Street, in Middletown. The talk is titled, “Tipping Points in the Climate, Nature, Society, and Ourselves.”

A tipping point is a watershed moment in space or time, beyond which things play out differently from before; a point of inevitability.  The climax of a narrative, the moment your tires begin to slip on an icy road, the chain of runaway business and bank failures started on Black Monday -- these are all examples of tipping points.

Of great importance to us right now are ecosystem tipping points, climate tipping points, social tipping points, political tipping points, and personal tipping points. How are they interrelated?  Do we control any of them?  Professor Stewart will examine the interplay of these tipping points in the context of our unique moment in world history.

Co-sponsoring the event are Artfarm, Ecoin, and the Middletown Garden Club. For more information, contact John Hall at 860-398-3771 or Amanda Kenyon at 860-347-0340.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Buttonwood Tree Offers Peace, Joy and Freedom and WORLD-CLASS Jazz This Weekend

You may have heard of The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center - a music venue, a community space for gatherings, a venue for Open Mics, a place where they do weird things like Laughter Yoga and workshops called Aligned with Source ... but what is it really?

It's a sanctuary where peace, freedom and joy prevail. It's a space that allows those who enter to leave behind the messiness of the streets, the chaos of politics, the debilitating energy of stress or the fears of lack or unworthiness. When you walk in you are enveloped in a comforting, peaceful energy that - if you allow it - will relieve you of stress, will lift your spirit and will give you time to truly unwind and reset yourself so that facing the world doesn't seem so daunting.

The Buttonwood Tree offers opportunities over and over again to improve your life's situation by presenting programs that educate, or connect you to others, or help you to increase your confidence or move you closer to your goals, all which can enrich your life with meaningful and joyful experiences. 

For example:

From Friday night to Sunday afternoon there are actually 7 events happening. Two are church services on Sundays which are not presented or endorsed by The Buttonwood Tree (TBT), but they do happen there.

1. Friday 8 pm: Sky Alan with HannaH (from HannaH's Field) Medicine Music - music for the body, mind and soul. Barefoot dancing encouraged. More/ Reserve

2. Saturday, 10:30 am - Noon: Aligned with Source - Personal development workshop and guided meditation where life's issues can be discussed and insights found.

Topic this week: The Eternal Child - Why are babies so special? How do we preserve that innocence and wonder in adulthood; and should we?  More / Reserve

3. Saturday, 3-5 pm: TEEN Open Mic  - Open to mature youth over 12 or so, bands are welcome, drum kit available with advance notice (thanks to Middlesex Music Academy, where free student passes are available). More

4. Saturday, 8-10pm: DEBORAH DAVIS "LET'S DO IT AGAIN" 

Back by popular demand, this vivacious chanteuse from Texas does not disappoint! She gets inside your heart and soul and enlivens you with her charm and dynamite vocals. Be sure to reserve your seat for this show! She's performing with Ben Rosenblum on piano and Marty Jaffey on bass.

DEBORAH DAVIS is a gifted singer and consummate performer that captivates audiences throughout the world. A jazz vocalist fused with Texas blues, gospel, and soul, she has a natural flowing charm and flawless stage presence that draws you into her show.  

She has sung for dignitaries at the UNITED NATIONS & U.S. EMBASSY affairs including a performance for PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON. In 2004 Deborah and her band were chosen by the U.S. State Department and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, to represent the U.S. as Jazz Ambassadors traveling to Latin America fostering good will and presenting jazz awareness.  Deborah has performed in Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Iceland, Paris,  Monaco, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Dubai, Jamaica, Russia, Kazakhstan Dagestan, Croatia, all over Siberia, etc. The world is her playground as she continues gaining international recognition during extensive tours annually.  She has performed with THE SHIRELLES, jammed with BON JOVI and BILLY JOEL, and opened for DIANA ROSS, CELINE DION, SANTANA, CHICAGO, ERIC CLAPTON, Z.Z.TOP, JILL SCOTT, ALICIA KEYS, MACY GRAY, ALANIS MORISSETTE, and more.

Photo credit William DeKine

Deborah has lit up the stages of well established NEW YORK jazz clubs, concert halls and festivals including BLUE NOTE, BIRDLAND, VILLAGE VANGUARD, SWEET BASIL, SMALLS, SMOKE, JAZZ STANDARD, IRIDIUM, RAINBOW ROOM, and the former TAVERN ON GREEN and WINDOWS OF THE WORLD.

Award-winning jazz pianist, composer and accordionist Ben Rosenblum has been described as “mature beyond his years,” (Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility), and as an “impressive talent” (C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz), who “caresses [the music] with the reverence it merits” (Bob Doerschuk, Downbeat Magazine). 

More / Reserve (It's highly suggested to reserve seats for this show!) Discount for TBT Members.

5. Sunday, 2-4 pm: Reiki Share, also known as Reiki circle or exchange, is a gathering of Reiki believers who participate in group Reiki treatments on each other. The main purpose for the Reiki share is to give and receive Reiki in a casual atmosphere of friendship, honor, positive energy and devotion. Discount for TBT Members.
More / Reserve

The Buttonwood Tree is an all ages venue with a bookstore of used, very interesting books, an ART GALLERY and a comfortable meeting space also available for rent for parties etc.
Ample, free parking is available next door, behind It's Only Natural market M-F from 6pm on and on weekends. Join as a MEMBER to support this vital community organization. (860) 347-4957

Forty-two Grand Ways to Waste Taxpayer Dollars

The Eye recently learned that the city has been billed, and has paid $42,829.85 to outside law firms, including Berchem Moses ($10,159), Pullman & Comey ($17,084), and LeClair Ryan ($15,586.50) in an FOI (Freedom of Information) complaint in pursuit of the names of city employees who came forward to complain, confidentially, about the mayor, the city attorney and the city human resources office.

The expenditure was approved at the Common Council's last regular meeting on May 6.  When the item came up for a vote, Council members Seb Giuliano, Gerry Daley, and Mary Bartolotta all abstained from voting because they
Mayor Drew calls for a vote at
the May 6 Common Council meeting.

were a party to the original complaint, or the pursuant investigation by the mayor.  The vote by the Council was eight in favor (Nocera, Blanchard, Chisem, Grady, Santangelo, Cotten, Salafia, Kleckowski), and three abstentions.

The investigation, originally conducted by LeClair Ryan, was inconclusive in its opinion as to whether the mayor harassed or discriminated against Board of Education employee Michelle DiMauro who claimed she was not receiving equal consideration for pay and advancement as a result of discrimination by the mayor and the human resources department.  But the report suggested several procedural changes to avoid any perception of discrimination in the future.  The Council has not acted on any of those recommendations.

DiMauro has since filed a federal lawsuit against the mayor, claiming discrimination and harassment with the city human resources department also named.

Ironically, Common Council member Gerry Daley, who has been the mayor's staunchest defender in the situation, complained formally, and bitterly, that the $40,000 spent on the origianl investigation was wasted money because the Council did not receive pertinent information it requested.

This is a paragraph from Daley's letter to his Council colleagues:

Since the City spent $42,829.85 to determine how the $40,000 was originally spent, the Eye imagines the pertinent question now is what did we get for our $42,829.85?

No ruling has yet been issued by the state Freedom of Information office on the complaint by the mayor in his pursuit of the names of those who complained against him.

Saturday Night at First Church: A Drama in a Slave Market

Day of Tears
Stories of  love and community
"Erasing racism, one performance at a time."

Performance starts at 7p.m., Saturday, May 18, 2019,
First Church in Middletown, 190 Court Street.
Street parking is free after 6p.m.

Middlesex Community College Open Registration on May 20

Stop by the beautiful MxCC campus on Monday, May 20 between 9 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. (100 Training Hill Road, Middletown)

MxCC Open Registration is designed for new and continuing students who have completed their application and have been accepted to Middlesex Community College. See what's on tap for the summer and fall semesters!

More information for new students: Students should have their Banner ID number (student ID number) and schedule an (if required) prior to registering. Advisors will be on hand to help choose classes.

Wellness Fair at First Church in Middletown, May 18

 First Church in Middletown
190 Court Street
9am to 3pm

1859 Auction Of Slaves, Powerful Play Free Saturday

Thursday, May 16, 2019

New play opens at Oddfellows --talkback Saturday!

The Oddfellows Playhouse Teen Repertory Company is premiering a new, ensemble-created play with music tonight. Between You and Me represents the authentic voices of over a dozen teenagers working with Playhouse Artistic Director Dic Wheeler and State Troubadour Nekita Waller. The performance at 7:30 pm tonight is a "Pay-What-You-can" Preview.

Performances continue May 17 -18 & 24-25 at 7:30 pm. The May 18 performance of Between You and Me will be followed by a Talkback with the cast and staff. The Talkback will be moderated by Felicia Goodwine, Program Manager for the CT STRONG program at the Community Health Center in Middletown.

The play was created over an extended series of teen workshops this winter led by Wheeler and  Waller. Workshop participants identified issues that were of the greatest importance to them and used writing, movement, improvisation, interviewing and song writing to generate original performance material engaging these issues. The performance which has developed from this process explores issues of identity, acceptance, anxiety, choices and social justice. It will be performed by a cast of nine young people ages 14 – 20 with a three piece live band.

Director Wheeler describes the play as “an emotional journey through the lives of contemporary teenagers”. The talkback will be an opportunity for audience members to engage with the cast and collectively process their responses to the piece. The Talkback will take place immediately after the May 18 performance, which starts at 7:30 pm and will last about one hour. The Talkback itself is expected to last about 30-40 minutes.

Felicia Goodwine works with young adults ages 16-25 to help support them with their goals as well as case management, basic needs, mental health, educational planning, employment skills, and social opportunities. Felicia has been in the behavioral health field for 14 years and is also a Mental Health First Aid Instructor. She received the award for Best Prevention Program in Middlesex County from the Middletown Substance Abuse Prevention Council in 2015. Felicia is an advocate and champion for young people especially those in Middletown. 

Between You and Me will be performed 5 times between May 16 and 25. This unique exploration of contemporary teen life and issues will be presented at Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street in Middletown, May 16 – 18 and 24 -25. All performances are at 7:30 pm. Only the May 18 performance will feature a post-show Talkback.

The Playhouse was supported by a grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts to bring Waller and Wheeler together for this project. Wheeler is directing the production, and Waller is the Musical Director. The creative team includes Band Director Bryan Titus, Assistant Director Cecilia Kurachi-Ubé, Scenic Designer Kate Ten Eyck, Costume Designer Christian Milik, Lighting Designer Jon-Paul LaRocco, and Properties Designer Pamela Lang. Band members include Mick Bolduc on Guitar, Phil Faraci on keyboard, and Tim Gaylord on drums and percussion.

The play addresses mature issues of teen life and is recommended for ages ten and up.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for kids and students. Thursday, May 16 is a “Pay-what-you-Can” Preview.

In addition to the CT Department of Economic and Community Development/Office of the Arts, this production is supported by the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Middletown Youth Services Bureau, State of CT Judicial Branch, The Fund for Greater Hartford, the Stare Family Fund, and the Community Development Block Grant Program.

Oddfellows Playhouse is a non-profit youth theater, founded in 1975, which promotes the growth of young people – in skills, knowledge and self-confidence – through the performing arts. The Playhouse is Connecticut’s oldest and largest theater program for young people, and maintains an ongoing commitment to making high-quality arts experiences available to all young people.

For tickets, or more information, contact Oddfellows Playhouse at (860) 347-6143 or