Tuesday, March 31, 2015

BOE Member To Host Informational Meeting About School Budget

Middletown High School
Board of Education member Ed McKeon will be hosting an informational meeting about the 2015-2016 school budget at the Middletown High School Auditorium, Thursday April 2 at 7 PM.

“We are at a crucial moment with school funding in Middletown,” McKeon said. “I want to provide parents, residents, students and teachers with information they’ll need to advocate for this year’s budget.”

The Board of Education approved the budget requested by Superintendent Pat Charles in January. That budget requested an increase of 5.92%, ($4,509, 832.) That increase is based on contractual obligations, inflation and additional costs due to state mandates and increased tuitions.

“The city has cut the requested Board of Education budget for the past seven years,” McKeon explained. “That’s understandable in some ways, due to the difficult economic times, but it has created deep cuts in teaching staff, programs and support services. At some point, we need to return to adequate funding, or suffer the consequences. That point is now.”

If the requested budget is cut by the city this year, the school district could see up to nine full-time teaching positions cut, and experience deep cuts in arts and science education programs. On the chopping block is the popular All-City Music Festival, held each April.

“Last September, several parents complained when because of budget constraints we saw crowding in elementary classrooms,” McKeon said. “We were able to address their concerns partially, but by September it’s too late to lobby for additional funds. I want parents to know that concern about crowded classrooms has to be expressed now, when the budget is being considered by the mayor, and the Common Council. The budget is voted on in May, but the effects won’t be felt until the new school year begins.”

The information meeting is not an official Board of Education function. McKeon is acting as an individual board member, resident and parent of school-age students. He’s enlisted the aid of several other parents to organize the meeting.

“It will be short and to the point,” McKeon said. “We’ll provide background on the budget and what’s at stake, and give parents some simple ways that they can support the budget request.”

Friday, March 27, 2015

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Welcome back! This weekend, The Buttonwood Tree will be hosting a widely-renowned variety of talent and creativity. First off, we're having the extraordinarily gifted Don White performing a medley of illuminating rock, folk, and tunes that we all can appreciate and enjoy. On Saturday night, the legendary Coconuts will be bringing their gut-busting parodies and musicality to our performance room. Be sure to join us for this amazing weekend of comedic and heartwarming music!

For more information, click below!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cat Tales ~ CAT OF THE WEEK ~ Penelope!!!

Cat Tales
The Cat of the Week

Name: Penelope
Gender: Female
Breed: Domestic Short Hair
Color: Brown Tabby
Age: 3 years old

I'm a very pretty 
who loves to be
pet, and I 
​Whisker Lickins
​ When I first came to Cat Tales, I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of cats here.  However, I'm very comfortable now, thanks to the patient & friendly volunteers!  ​
​I am spayed and current on all my vaccinations.
​would ​
need a quiet home with no other pets and a 
​cat experienced ​
person who will give me as much time as I need to adjust
​ to my new environment​
. I 
​just ​
know I'd make a great companion for 
​that ​
someone special.  
Please come 
meet me and see what a sweet 
I am. 

(No Cats, No Dogs, No Children)

On the Web: http://www.

:(860) 344-9043
Email: Info@CatTalesCT.org

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chloe Jones ’15 talks to singer-songwriter Omnia Hegazy (Mar. 27)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to singer-songwriter Omnia Hegazy, who performs with her band this Friday, March 27, 2015 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall as part of Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

You began writing lyrics for your first EP on a trip to Egypt in 2010.  What about the trip inspired you to start writing?
Omnia Hegazy
I tend to take a notebook with me and scribble wherever I go, and it was the summer before [Hosni] Mubarak was overthrown, so everyone was talking about politics all the time.  I was staying in a youth shelter at the time and talking with other Egyptians about what was going on and writing down my observations about how women are treated, about things I felt were unfair in the culture.  These are things that I grew up with in America, as well—people take their culture with them.  So I started writing things down and not necessarily as an outsider because these things do exist in America too.  These inequalities are not just among Egyptians but everybody.

What inspired your second EP, Judgment Day?

I wrote this song after watching a film called The Stoning of Soraya M, based [on] a true story about a woman in Iran who was stoned because her husband framed her for adultery. This actually happened in the 1980s.  I was so upset by the film that I wrote a song, not so much about the film, but about what is happening to people of my faith.  It was a critique about how I feel some people of my faith have taken religion and made it so evil and how it can really harm people.  The song became the title track of the EP.

Judgment Day is a provocative title.  What does the title mean to you?

I feel that as a Middle Eastern woman, there is a lot of judgment.  We face a lot more judgment than our male counterparts.  Our reputation is our biggest asset in a lot of cases. The title was about that feeling of constantly being judged.  I feel like every day is judgment day for an Arab woman, a Muslim woman.  Everyone else is judging what you should do, what you should say, what you should sing.  That’s what I tried to address with the title and specifically with that song.

You say you might have been a journalist, had your life gone a different direction.  Thinking about journalism and songwriting as two forms of storytelling, what do you think song achieves that journalism does not? 

For me, writing a song can appeal to people’s emotions in a way that hard news just can’t.  Often people just want to turn the news off because it’s so depressing, but with song one can elaborate behind whatever story you’re telling to make people really feel.  It’s not just the facts, not just what happened.  I think the reason song is so effective is that it helps creates empathy in a way that sometimes hard news just doesn’t.

What do you hope people will gain from listening to your music? 

I want to make people think.  I want people to have a good time, but there’s a lot of music out there that doesn’t necessarily really make people think.  To be fair, I think that all music has a place.  I don’t think you have to address an issue for the music to be important, like the stuff I’m writing now is more about personal things.  I think that’s just as important because I think songwriting attempts to reach an understanding about the human condition.  I want people to feel something when they listen to my music.  Whether I’m writing about a break up or political evil, I just want them to feel something.

Do you think your songs fall into either a personal or political category, or do you think both the personal and the political are manifest in each song you write?

To me the two are intertwined.  How I feel about any given issue is political, and it’s personal.  I’m observing, and I recognize that there’s bias in my music.  I wouldn’t see it as hard news, so much as an op-ed.  It’s personal and political.  One of my newer singles that just came out is very personal.  It’s about street harassment,  about being a woman and feeling unsafe.  That is actually something political—there’s a feminist message in the song, [and] it’s talking about the place of women in society—but it’s very personal.

Who are some of your greatest musical influences?

One of the biggest is a singer from Columbia named Juanes. He’s a pop/rock singer-songwriter and a mean guitar player.  He’s actually the best selling artist in Columbia, even before Shakira.  But if you listen to his older stuff, he was using really catchy melodies to write really meaningful things.  He has one song that is so catchy you want to bob your head to it, but then you really listen to it and realize he’s talking about landmines.  He made me realize that pop music is actually a really useful vehicle to spread a message, and it doesn’t have to be esoteric or metaphorical to be political.  Other than Juanes, I’m influenced by the 1960s—any of the singer-songwriters of the 1960s.  Also, India.Arie.  She writes some really catchy songs, but there’s a good message behind them.  She has soul.  I like artists with consciousness, not just political consciousness but any kind.

Omnia Hegazy
Friday, March 27, 2015 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
$18 general public; $15 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students

At Wesleyan, Ms. Hegazy will be accompanied for the first time outside of New York City by drummer Max Maples, bassist Carl Limbacher, electric guitarist Coyote Anderson, and Natalia Perlaza on Arabic percussion and tabla.

Jazz Up Close (and pleasantly personal)

That's Noah Baerman in that "serious" pose on the left.  That makes sense as he is serious about his music, about his teaching, and about the ability to reach people through music and have them lead positive lives.  To that end, Mr. Baerman has started a program at Russell Library in Middletown he calls "Jazz Up Close" - it's a concert but the musicians talk to and with the audience, explaining what they are attempting to do with their music, why they do what they do and more.  Playing jazz is more than playing the notes; it's about teamwork, about communication, and about creativity (and much more).

This Saturday at 2 p.m. (March 28), the 2015 season of "Jazz Up Close" commences with Mr. B (piano) leading at quartet with with bassist Henry Lugo, drummer Willard Dyson and special guest, guitarist Freddie Bryant (pictured left). Besides his busy solo career, Mr. Bryant has worked with the great vocalist Salif Keita, trumpeter Tom Harrell and the Mingus Big Band. He and drummer Dyson have worked together on a number of occasions as well as recording together on 2 of his 7 CDs.  His latest, "Dreamscapes: Solo, Duo & Trio" (self-released), was issued in 2014 and features saxophonist Chris Potter and bassist Scott Colley. Mr. Bryant is equally versed in jazz, pop, and classical music and has a fluid style that swings, often with unabashed glee.

To find out more about the series, go to www.russelllibrary.org. To find out more about Freddie Bryant, go to www.freddiebryant.com.  Check out all the good work of Noah B at www.noahjazz.com.

(This post also appears, in an edited version, on my blog, at steptempest.blogspot.com.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

WESU Record Fair Saturday

With dozens of vendors from throughout the New England and the Tri-State area selling new and used music in all formats, the WESU community record fair has become a cherished tradition, attracting a diverse crowd of new and old record collectors. Hosting over twenty vendors, each offering their own unique mix of genres and formats, there is surely something for every type of collector! In addition to records, you’re likely to find new and used CDs for sale, as well as music-related apparel, books, and more. Plus WESU merchandise, of course!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cash Lane Slim – Downshift – Live In Concert March 21

The Jonah Center of Earth and Art is pleased to sponsor the return of Middletown’s Cash Lane Slim in an exclusive one-night performance. Doors will open at 6:30 PM, and the 2- hour show will begin at 7 PM on Saturday, March 21, in the main hall of the Community Health Center, 675 Main Street in Middletown, CT.
Songsmith and guitar master Cash Lane Slim takes you on a trip through the heart of Americana with a blend of folk, rock, blues and ballad; an energizing mix of originals and standards with his unique interpretation and voice. The songs combine into stories of life and love, gains and loss, fall and redemption. His solo acoustic hybrid performance is a dynamic reinvention of the genre; building layers of voice and instrument live on stage. There is an emotional range in the music, from pure and evocative acoustic simplicity to lush soundscapes formed in progressive overlays. At times switching mid-song between six string acoustic, electric, and 4 string bass, there is a kinetic artistry that can only be appreciated in live performance.
The concert has been organized as a free-will donation benefit and fundraiser for The Jonah Center. There is no admission charge. Cash Lane encourages all attendees to take the opportunity to make a donation to The Jonah Center for Earth and Art, a 501c3 organization in Middletown CT. Jonah Center staff will be present with information.

Friday, March 20, 2015

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Welcome back! We have a scintillating array of performances this weekend. To start heating things up, we have renowned Israeli singer Yael Deckelbaum for Friday night. Her music presents powerful, entrancing rhythms and ethereal vocals. For Saturday night, we have Sherman Ewing, with his folksy yet modern lyrics and beats. His music is profound, yet accessible to more pop-oriented ears. Don't take our word for it, come and expireince your weekend here with us!

For event information, please click below.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ SABRINA

Cat Tales presents... 

The Cat of the Week!


Gender: Female
Breed: Domestic Short Hair
Color: Black & White
Age: 7 years 7 months old

Cat Tales calls me one of the mascots, greeting everyone who comes through the door. I’m extremely affectionate and will sit on your lap, but it has to be when I am in the mood. I’d prefer a male adopt me, as I tend to be somewhat aggressive towards females. I need a patient, cat experienced person who will give me time to adjust to my new environment. I do require lots of attention when I desire. I was born with a birth defect and require a high quality food. My good friends at Cat Tales will show you exactly what I need. I need to be the only animal in the household, as dogs scare me and I’d like to be getting all your affection and attention. I just want to be happy and have a forever home of my own. Can I please come home with you??

Wednesday, March 18, 2015



Cat found March 15, 2015 near Tri-Town Foods in Portland.  

Very sweet orange tabby, spayed female, young, extremely affectionate, very healthy and doesn't have a winter coat meaning she hasn't been outside for long

Please contact Cat Tales if this is kitty is yours, or if you recognize her.  Someone is missing her terribly!!

Phone:  860.344.9043        Email:  info@CatTalesCT.org

Monday, March 16, 2015

High School Students Invited to “Experience College” for a Day at MxCC

 High school students will have the opportunity to see first-hand what college really is like at Middlesex Community College when they take part in the “Experience College Day” on Thursday, March 19.  Students will meet with current college students and MxCC faculty, and watch presentations on business, science, communications, new media, the humanities, and health and life sciences. Students also will attend a Student Services and Academic Program fair to learn about student life and academic support at MxCC.  Additionally, the first 50 students from this event who attend MxCC in the fall of 2015 will receive a waiver for the $20 application fee (visit the admission table for details). The free event, which takes place in Chapman Hall on the Middletown campus, includes lunch for all attendees.  Free parking is available.  Any student wishing to attend this event should contact bboutaugh@mxcc.edu or gbarrett@mxcc.edu.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cat Tales ~ The Cat of the Week! PENELOPE!

Cat Tales presents... 

The Cat of the Week!!

~ P E N E L O P E ~


Name: Penelope
Gender: Female
Breed: Domestic Short Hair
Color: Brown Tabby
Age: 3 years old

I’m a very pretty girl. I was overwhelmed when I first came to Cat Tales with all the other cats, but now, I’m very relaxed now and ready for a home of my own. I need a home with a very cat experienced, patient person, who has a quiet home. I get along with other cats as long as they are friendly and not dominate. I love to be pet and love my Whisker Lickin treats! All I ask of you is to give me as much time as I need to adjust. I know I would make a great companion and would love a warm bed to sleep on with you!
(No Dogs, No Children)


Register to become a volunteer: http://www.cattalesct.org/volunteer/


Cat Tales
PO Box 901
Middletown, CT 06457
Copyright © 2015 Cat Tales, Inc.