Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ambassadors Arbo And Downs

Rani Arbo and Dave Downs were named Music Ambassadors for the city, in a ceremony in City Hall on Wednesday. Mayor Drew and Stephan Allison, coordinator of the City Arts Office, introduced the two musicians, who have been performing in our city and beyond for several decades.
Mayor Drew, Stephen Allison

Arbo sings, fiddles, and strums with her band Daisy Mayhem, playing small venues and large festivals to great acclaim all over North America. This summer she sang at the Art Farm production of King Lear, at Middlesex Community College, and at the Lunenberg Folk Harbor Festival in Nova Scotia, among many other places.  Daisy Mayhem's most recent recording is Some Bright Morning, released by Signature Sounds to widespread critical acclaim. The band describes it as agnostic gospel revival music.

Downs is a singer and songwriter who has performed at coffee shops around the city. He is a prolific writer of songs that chronicle the history and places of Middletown. Despite his now elevated status as a Music Ambassador, Downs said he is unwilling to relinquish his title as CEO of CHUSA (the Connecticut Highly Unsuccessful Songwriters Association). Dave was profiled last year in a highly unsuccessful media outlet.

Allison credited Mayor Drew as the creative force behind the award, and announced that the City Hall telephone system would be playing recordings by these two musicians for the next year.  When callers are on hold, they will henceforth no longer be subjected to music which the Mayor called "horrible", but will instead hear loops of music by Arbo or by Downs.
Dave Downs, Stephan Allison, Rani Arbo

Arbo and Downs each gave a broad thanks to the city for its support of the arts. Arbo's remarks focused on the community of artists that call our city its home.
This is a great place to be an artist, a great place to be a musician. The fact that the city has collectively put the arts community forward, not just the two of us, but the whole arts community, as an ambassador for the town to bring people here, and taken time and money to celebrate--it says a lot. It brings new people to town. It gives people who live here many ways to celebrate their collective culture ...
It’s collaborations with Wesleyan, with chorales, and there’s classical music and jazz and herb gardens. The amount of effort that Middletown puts forth is not lost on anyone. And it’s a pleasure and honor to be part of that community and to share and to benefit from the feeling of being in an arts community, which not every town can offer.
The ceremony closed, fittingly, with an Arbo-Downs duet, an inspired rendition of the Irving Berlin classic, Blue Skies.

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