Thursday, July 30, 2009

Places to Go, People to See and Hear (7/31-8/02)

Friday July 31:
There are 3 major music festivals going on in Connecticut, each within easy driving range. No specifics here but there will be links to get you to each website.

The Great CT Traditional Jazz Festival takes place from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon at Mountain Ridge on High Hill Road in Wallingford. Scheduled is pianist Jeff Barnhart (pictured), Louis Ford & His New Orleans Flairs, Cornet Chop Suey, Wolverine Jazz Band, Galvanized Jazz Band, Blue Street, Festival favorites Igor's Jazz Cowboys and many other fine purveyors of jazz and swing. For more information including prices, directions and to discover how the Festival aids the Horns 4 Kids program, go

If you like your jazz with a bit more "modern" feel (but not "avant-garde") you could head for the Litchfield hills for the 2009 Litchfield Jazz Festival, to be held Friday through Sunday on the grounds of the Kent School in Kent, CT. This year's lineup ranges from the traditional sounds of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to the brilliant Cuban-born drummer Dafnis Prieto & his Si O Si Quartet to vocalist/pianist Dena DeRose (pictured) to the lush sounds of vocalist Jane Monheit to the "world jazz" guitarist from Benin, Lionel Loueke, to the mainstream saxophone sounds of Houston Person (and much more.) Go to for the complete lineup, directions, and to learn more about the Festival's Jazz Camp. It's also the weekend for the the Connecticut Wine Trail's 2009 Wine Festival, to be held on the nearby Goshen Fairgrounds in Goshen. A good number of the wineries are located in the Litchfield hills - you can check out more at

The Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival actually starts tonight (Thursday) and runs through Sunday. Held on the grounds of the spacious Martin Park in East Hartford, this year's program features Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, the Allison Brown Quartet with Joe Craven, Goldheart, the James King Band, the Lovell Sisters, Natalie MacMaster, the Steep Canyon Rangers and many more. Headlining the show on Friday evening will be the Del McCoury Band (pictured) whose 2008 CD "Moneyland" brought together many different artists for a true social commentary on the foibles of the economic downturn and the culture of greed. Del is celebrating 50 years as a performing artist and is a true bluegrass legend. To find out more about the festivals and the fine lineup, go to

Meanwhile in Middletown, Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. at Spencer School, Westfield Street, the 21st Annual Children's Circus of Middletown, created by Oddfellows Playhouse and sponsored by the Middletown Commission on the Arts, presents "In Your Dreams." From the press release, "The show features over 200 young stilters, jugglers, clowns, unicyclists, dancers, and acrobats. Live music is performed by a 15-piece Circus Band, led by well-known local musician Dirck Westervelt. Come early and enjoy the offerings of the Pre-Show Carnival presented by Middlesex County Non Profit Organizations. Popcorn and pirates, crafts and music will keep you busy before the Circus begins."

For more information, call 347-6143. Rain date in Saturday August 1 at 12noon in the same location.

Saturday August 1:
The Middlesex Academy of the Performing Arts, located on the campus of Independent Day School, Laurel Brook Road in Middlefield, presents "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" at 5 p.m. Based on the characters created by the late Charles Schulz, the musical is light-hearted and features a catchy score by Clark Gesner. Tickets should be available at the door. For more information, go to

The Buttonwood Tree presents a bluegrass show of its own Friday at 8 p.m. 19 Strings, a quartet featuring Rob Blaney (banjo), his brother Jeff (mandolin, bass), Marianne Vogel (violin) and Willie Larsen (guitar), plays country standards, a bit of folk music, waltzes, spirituals, Bob Dylan tunes and even an Irish jig or 2. Call 347-4957 to reserve a seat for this, the last show of the Buttonwood's 2008-09 season.

Boney's Music Lounge welcomes back the very popular Melvin Sparks Trio for an evening of incendiary jazz/funk and r'n'b. Guitarist Sparks, drummer Bill Carbone and organist Matthew O. will play from 8:30 to 12midnight and, no matter, the temperature outside, the Lounge will be "smokin."

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