We often hear of what's coming up at The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center, (TBT), but what actually happened is often a mystery. Even its location seems to be a mystery, as countless folks come in saying they've "passed by this place for years and didn't know it was here". Trees hide the sign over the door of the small space which is located in the former Arriwani Hotel, next to It's Only Natural market. Once inside, a whole new world opens up to those who dare to enter. Between the eclectic books, local art, inviting atmosphere and exposed brick walls, Buttonwood has repeatedly been called a "hidden gem" in the heart of downtown Middletown.
Earlier this month an Italian beauty made her debut performance and she won the hearts of all in attendance. Sissy Castrogiovanni hails from Sicily and has been living in Boston for the past few years. She brought her band and added Evan Waaramaa on piano, a West Hartford native, whose family was delighted to see him perform with the dynamic group. Also in attendance was the new director of the Downtown Business District, Nicole Castrogiovanni. Maybe not related directly, they do share their family name and their first visit to TBT. Over a dozen people experienced TBT for the first time that night and at least one gentleman spoke to her in their native tongue, a bonus for them both. Singing in her Sicilian dialect didn't deter from the enjoyment of the music, but rather added to the flair of the jazzy tunes. Her voice too an instrument, was used expertly and expressively.
Owen McNally kindly interviewed the Italian songstress, but words can hardly capture the passion that was felt in the cozy space at TBT. She moved on stage using her whole body like an instrument, rising and falling in rhythm, floating and soaring with notes that tantalized and captured listeners' attention and hearts. Playing to the sax, their eyes locked, her voice matched its notes with perfect pitch and if you closed your eyes you might have thought there were two saxes in the room. One number she sang just to the piano, a love song that was a lovely as a flower blossoming and brought tears to more than one listener. When a performer with passion plays TBT, it is felt by all those who tune in and in that moment, we're all One. Those times are something special to be experienced, something so wonderful that people who can get quiet and into the moment, can treasure forever. Folks return from near and far to feel the magic that happens between performer and audience at The Buttonwood Tree, like in no other place.
One pair of patrons knows the value of the irreplaceable, treasurable moments available at The Buttonwood Tree, and they traveled to Middletown from their home on Long Island, NY simply to spend the weekend at TBT. Wesleyan alumni, Dick Einhorn, and his lovely wife, Susan, have been regular attendees at TBT for a couple of years. They enjoyed the classical guitar music of the students from the Hartt School of Music as well as the jazz guitar of Sinan Bakir. It's a family affair at TBT, that night Bakir's son came along as he often does for his dad's regular appearances.
Music is not the only gift that flows from TBT, as the Einhorns know. They attended a show last October featuring members of Cotton Hollow Rising where Cece Borgenson told the audience how they got their band's name, and talked about the treasure of Cotton Hollow Preserve in South Glastonbury. In between shows at TBT, the Einhorns enjoyed the natural beauty of the Preserve, satisfying their curiosity born of that October concert. Often coming to Middletown for Wesleyan events and catching one show at TBT, this weekend they came mainly "to experience The Buttonwood Tree". Smart folks those Wesleyan folks, and talented too as this Saturday's concert with the Mattabessett String Collective will reveal.
See Owen's story here: http://wnpr.org/topic/jazz-corridor
This weekend TBT hosts five events:
Friday, 8 pm, Orice Jenkins Jazz http://www.buttonwood.org/event/orice-jenkins/
Saturday, 10:30 am, Aligned with Source
8 pm, Mattabessett String Collective
: http://www.buttonwood.org/event/mattabesett-string-collective/ (Reservations suggested)
Sunday, 1-2 pm Food not Bombs (Free vegetarian community lunch)
4-7 pm Celebrating Tommy Moses
: http://www.buttonwood.org/event/celebrating-tommy-jakula-moses/ (Call us to participate)
CANCELED: Tonight's film and Saturday's Yoga and Qigong classes are all canceled
The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center is run by North End Arts Rising, Inc., a nonprofit organization located at 605 Main Street. www.buttonwood.org
Volunteer opportunities are available.