Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Jazz Up Close Thursday June 1

"Jazz Up Close", the series that pianist, composer, and educator Noah Baerman has produced at The Russell Library, 123 Broad Street in Middletown over the past several years, continues on Thursday June 1 with guests Meg Okura (violin) and Sam Newsome (soprano) joining Mr. Baerman, bassist Henry Lugo, and drummer Paul Wells. Over the past two decades, Ms. Okura has been busy playing in multiple ensembles and multiple genres, from composing string quartets to performing with Cirque du Soleil to being a featured soloist with artists such as Dianne Reeves and Lee Konitz.  She's also the leader of the Pan Asian Jazz Ensemble (an ensemble with 2 CDs released so far), a Trio, and the J Orchestra, a big band dedicated to playing the music of Japanese and Jewish composers (the latter two ensembles have yet to record).

Mr. Newsome first came to critical in the late 1980s when he joined trumpeter and compose Terence Blanchard's group. He went off on his own in 1995 and also decided to concentrate on soprano saxophone.  Mr. Newsome is now considered one of the masters of the instrument.  His solo concerts and recordings are brilliant, each in their own right.  His breath control, intelligent use of amplification and prepared saxophone, plus the various ways he employs the saxophone keys, stand out.  Since 2007, he has  released six CDs of solo performances with performances that are as musical as they are challenging, amazing and earthy music that defies labels. Sam Newsome is also a fine blogger; on his "Soprano Sax Talk", he writes about many aspects of his chosen instrument and some of the people who play it. Go to to check it out.

If you have attended these events in the past, you know the host leaves time inside the concert and after for the audience to ask questions of the artists. In that way (and others), Mr. Baerman does much to demystify the music, making it accessible to those who shy away from what they consider a challenge.

The concert takes place at 7 p.m. in the Hubbard Room. Best of all, the event is free and open to the public.  For more information, go to

Here's a taste of Ms. Okura's wonderful violin work:

Here's Sam Newsome from his 2014 album, "The Straight Horn of Africa":

(This post also appears on

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Middletown Commission on Conservation & Agriculture HIKE

Saturday, June 3, 2017, 10 am (Rain date, Sunday, June 4, 10 am)
Daniels/Schwarzkopf Open Space Property
Johnson Lane, off of Millbrook Road, Middletown 

In celebration of 2017 Trails Day, Commission members Liz Holder and Kate Miller will lead a hike on this forested 120-acre property, which features a variety of native tree species, stone walls, a vernal pool and the "bottle tree". They will provide information about the history, topography, flora and fauna, and be on hand to answer questions. The terrain is gentle, family-friendly, and is a good introduction to Middletown’s many hiking trails. Since the ticks are numerous this year, it is advised that you wear long pants and close-toed shoes. Total distance is about 1.3 miles, 1 1/4 hrs. Questions can be directed to Liz Holder at Copies of the Middletown Trail Guide will be on sale, and can also be found online at 

Additional information about the Daniels/Schwarzkopf Open Space Property  
The newly formed Commission on Conservation and Agriculture encourages residents to enjoy and appreciate this newly blazed property, one of Middletown's many open space properties with walking/hiking trails. In addition to providing free passive recreational opportunities, these parcels serve many functions, such as extending greenways, providing wildlife habitat, protecting water quality, and contributing to the rural character of the city. 

The combined Daniels/Schwarzkopf property was purchased in the early 1990s from the Daniels and Schwarzkopf families. Members of both families lived in Middletown for many years as well. Respected farmers and insurance agents, they also participated in many city and state affairs.  In 1991 Lew Daniels (1917-2000), an insurance agent and owner of the property on the west side of Millbrook Road, wrote to Paul Gionfriddo, then mayor of Middletown, asking if the city was interested in preserving his property as "Open Space that can be enjoyed forever by Middletown residents."  After an evaluation by the Conservation Commission, it was recommended that this parcel be purchased, along with the contiguous Schwarzkopf  property, which had been offered to the city shortly after the Daniels property by Erika Schwarzkopf and her mother. Over 120 acres were bought at a lower than market price. 

Many older residents of Middletown remember that prior to the closure of the Daniels Dairy Farm in 1980, fresh milk and eggs from the Schwarzkopf's  poultry farm were delivered to their homes. Some also recall Lew Daniels' Christmas Tree Farm, and the preservation of 23 acres of  Ray Daniels' property. At one point the Daniels Farm was the largest dairy in Middlesex County. Interesting trails to be used for passive recreation have now been established on this property for all our residents.

By: Ellen Lukens, Member of the Middletown Commission on Conservation and Agriculture
Contributors: Erika Schwarzkopf, the daughter of Kurt Schwarzkopf, and Bob
Daniels, nephew of Lew Daniels

Microchipping Clinic - sponsored by Cat Tales - Higganum Veterinary Clinic

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ FIONA

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week

Meet Fiona!

  Breed:British Short Hair
Age:5 years old

I am such a beautiful girl! My former owner used to holler at me all of the time so I am a bit feisty and sometimes swatty. I need a very quiet home with a patient person. I like to be pet but you need to respect me when I tell you I've had enough. I am also okay being held and sort of just become a lump in your arms while I occasionally growl (because of my past). Once I trust you and know my new home is very quiet and that you love and respect me I will probably be the sweetest girl in the world to you. I am not a lap cat so please do not expect me to lay on you. I am very independent but I do like attention. I need to be the only pet in your home. Please adopt me!

Phone:   860.344.9043
Watch our TV ad:

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Cat Tales Annual Walk-A-Thon/Run Fundraiser - June 10

Cat Tales Annual Walk-A-Thon/Run Fundraiser

WHEN:  Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 9:30AM Registration, 10:30AM Walk & Run Begins

WHERE:  Middlesex Community College, 100 Training Hill Rd, Middletown, CT (Upper Parking Lot)

INFO:  For more information, please visit

Time Is the Original Nonrenewable Resource -- The Colonel Carries On #86

by Avara Shuss and Segundo String 

Epigraph: “Roger Moore isn’t a great actor, but what acting he does, he does with his eyes.” --Paul E. Harris (1910-1996)

Undoubtedly the best-known pangram is “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” but at 35 letters, it’s easily beaten by the 32-letter “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.”

“Perfect pangrams” (26 letters) exist, but they are usually far-fetched. Example: “Junky qoph-flags vext crwd zimb.” It means “Trashy flags showing the Hebrew letter qoph vexed an Abyssinian fly playing a Celtic violin.”

“The Perfect Pangram” would be a good pub name. The pub’s motto would be “If every trashy flag bearing the Hebrew letter qoph vexed one Abyssinian fly playing a Celtic violin, the world would be a better place, so drink up.”

Friday, May 26, 2017

Celebrate CT Trails Day At Wadsworth Falls State Park

Join the Rockfall Foundation for a fun, family hike at Wadsworth Falls State Park  to celebrate Connecticut Trails Day on Saturday, June 3 at 9:30 am. Led by geologist Christine
Witkowski, we’ll hike through the woods to the Little Falls and on to Wadsworth Falls. Along the approximately 2.5 mile hike, there will be stops to discuss the geology and ecology. We’ll examine beautiful exposures of sedimentary and igneous rocks that formed 200 million years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea began to break apart and create the landscape we know today. 

Wadsworth Falls State Park was created through the generosity of Clarence S. Wadsworth. According to his wishes the 267 acre parcel of land was donated to the State of Connecticut shortly after his death in 1942. The land known as the “Rockfall Tract of the Great Falls Region” contains two rock falls for which the Rockfall Foundation is named.

Meet at the Wadsworth Falls State Park main parking lot, 721 Wadsworth Street in Middletown (Rt 157) at 9:30 am. The hike will go until 12 pm and is rated medium and appropriate for families. Healthy snacks will be provided, but please bring your own water. No dogs or strollers are allowed. This event is free, however, preregistration is recommended by contacting The Rockfall Foundation at 860.347.0340 or via email. Steady rain cancels the hike. Call 860.347.0340 or 860.227.4176 (day of hike only) for cancellation updates.

For further information on events taking place on Connecticut Trails Weekend visit the Connecticut Forest & Park Association website.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fake News - Can You Spot It? presentation at Russell Library This Thursday

On Thursday, May 25, 2017, at 6:30pm a special program on fake news will be presented in Russell Library’s Hubbard Room. The program, Fake News: Can you spot it? is a collaboration between the Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) Journalism Department and Reference and Instructions Librarians at CCSU’s Elihu Burritt Library. It began as an hour-long interactive workshop delivered designed to define fake news and develop strategies to fight it. 

According to Craig Silverman, media editor of Buzzfeed, fake news traveled better online than mainstream news did in the three months preceding the recent presidential election (8.7 million hits to 7.3 million hits, respectively). 
The program begins by defining fake news on a spectrum. There is a difference between actual fake news, misleading news, biased news, and (at the other end of the spectrum entirely) news that simply challenges a held belief. 
Social media has made every information consumer into an information producer. It is our habit, when a piece of news makes us feel strongly, to share that piece of news with others. Given that, when we improve our abilities to determine news quality we do not just help ourselves; we help others too, as we let dubious news die instead of adding fuel to a false fire. 
Presenters are: Theodora Ruhs, Professor of Journalism; Martha Kruy, Reference, Instruction and Assessment Librarian; Briana McGuckin, Reference and Instruction Librarian; and Susan Slaga-Metivier, Head of the Reference and Instruction Department, Elihu Burritt Library.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ STEPHEN!!

Meet STEPHEN!!  
He is the Cat Tales Cat of the Week!!

Gender:  Male

Breed:  Domestic Short Hair
Color:  Black
Age:4 years old
  Hi there everyone. I'm kinda new on the block. I was found in a feral colony in Middletown that Cat Tales needed to close. I recently have realized it is okay to trust humans again. I really like to be petted and love when you talk to me. I am really good friends with Larry and would love to go home with him. I am FIV positive. Humans cannot catch this and it is very hard for other cats to catch. Larry is FIV+ too, so we would be great together! I am a little nervous but he makes me feel more confident. I'd love a cozy couch to sleep on and would love for someone to show me what love is. Please adopt me or us together!

Phone:   860.344.9043
Watch our TV ad:

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Realigned Equestrian Fez Bewilders Picky Monarch -- The Colonel Carries On #85

by Omani Padme-Humm

Epigraph: “Everybody is a genius except those who judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.” --after Albert Einstein

The headline isn’t a pangram because it has no “x.” It needs a quick brown fox.

A dose of sayings is called for:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Hip Hop and Hoopfest at Russell Library This Saturday!

Alex Pock's work can be seen in and around Hartford. 
Saturday, May 20,  is a busy day at Russell Library. The library will host an exhibit opening of the photos from Middletown's Summer Hoopfest., as well as Hip Hop Day, with four separate workshops in Hip Hop.

Photos by Tony Donovan of The Middletown Summer Hoopfest are on the lobby walls and upstairs in the information area. Hoopfest, produced by Malik Pemberton, has been a summer time tradition for the past ten years. The opening reception runs from 11:00am through 1:00pm.   

The series of Hip Hop workshops have been organized in the same spirit of the Hip Hop cultural ideals that rose out of the late 1970’s and 1980’s in the Bronx. These ideals focused on using the arts as a positive force of change in the community, which at the time was suffering from extreme poverty and gang violence. While much of the subsequent attention of Hip Hop has been given to the separate and distinct arts of the movement (such as rap and breakdance), the positive ideals of Hip Hop still resonate with us to this day.

Funded in part with a grant from the Middletown Commission on the Arts, these workshops are offered to the community free of charge. Light refreshments will be provided.

Turntablism with DJ N.E.B.
Saturday, May 20, 10:00am – 11:45am. The Hubbard Room. 
One of the four pillars of Hip Hop is 'Turntablism' -- the art of creating music using two turntables and cross-fading from one to the other. DJ N.E.B. (also known as Arun Ranganathan) is well-known. He has a vast collection of LPs he uses to provide the music. His technique of “scratching” is awesome to behold! 

Breaking with B-boy Bryan Giles
Saturday, May 20, 10:00am – 11:45am. Activity Room.
All ages are welcome to participate or just watch as teaching artist and b-boy Bryan Giles demonstrates and teaches the classic movements of breaking and its many variations. Bryan Giles is also known as “Lingba Flare” leads a b-boy team entitled Of Shadow and Earth.

Graffiti Art with Alex Pock
Saturday, May 20, 12:15pm – 2:00pm. Activity Room Patio. 
Alex Pock is a community muralist, working in and around Hartford and West Hartford.  

Rhyming with Tang Sauce
Saturday, May 20, 12:15pm – 2:00pm. The Hubbard Room.
Hartford Rap artist Tang Sauce will teach the basics of rhyming! Tang Sauce has recently produced an album entitled Maturity

Celebrity Artist Shows Warmth and Beauty at The Buttonwood Tree

Middletown is fortunate to have a Performing Arts Center that is so well known around the world and so well situated. Not only is it located on Main Street, but also half way between New York and Boston, making it a convenient stop for many touring artists. World-class musicians, and now comedians too, have been increasingly discovering The Buttonwood Tree (TBT) and its positive reputation as an inviting, intimate and enjoyable place to perform that offers warm hospitality, attentive audiences and terrific acoustics.

Artists who have played at the White House, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Israeli stadiums and all over the world, come to TBT for a real, intimate experience. This weekend TBT features one of these artists, (a true celebrity who doesn't like to be called a celebrity), but by her talent and gentile manner, reveals her true nature as a super star. See what she says about this on her Facebook page.

This weekend The Buttonwood Tree offers two fine acts to watch: Friday night, the well known local band, Stanley Maxwell, takes the stage at 8 pm. They play jazz in their own funky style, all very talented musicians having a good time together.

Saturday night we welcome for her first concert at TBT, the "Beautiful and Electric" Phoebe Hemenway Legere. As a Multi-Format Artist she is a composer, soprano, pianist and accordionist; a painter, a poet, and a film maker. She also started and runs her own nonprofit agency, Foundation for New American Art, to educate, nurture and strengthen, the artistic and musical spirit of the children of low-income communities of New York City. She is graciously donating half of her art sales to TBT and half to her foundation.

On Wednesday night Phoebe entertained a small group at TBT, after driving four and a half hours in Trump traffic, for her Artist's Reception. She came out of the car, without an ounce of complaint, put down her guitar and accordion, put organic red wine on the table, and after brief introductions, started to sing and play piano. She was amazingly sweet, attentive to everybody individually, and sang like an angel. She told stories, educated us about Steinway pianos, explained her paintings and was as gracious as could be. After selling four paintings, as suddenly as she arrived, she left - with the promise to return Saturday. Her show is expected to sell out - reservations are recommended. For those who wish more roomy seating, TBT now offers a live video feed into the bookstore, thanks to McEwen Construction and local comedian and promoter, Paul Gregory.

TBT's Executive Director, Anne-Marie Cannata McEwen and granddaughter with Phoebe Legere.

Thanks to local restaurant partners, Typhoon, Keagan's Irish Pub, Cardinal Pizza and O'Rourke's Diner, for providing delicious refreshments. Phoebe and the audience were delighted to experience the Lobster Ravioli with Sherry cream sauce and Irish Lasagna specially prepared by Brian O'Rourke.

Reservations are recommended for both shows as seating is limited.
TBT is located at 605 Main Street, Middletown. Next to It's Only Natural market, where there is free parking for the show. Beer, wine and snacks are available.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Untraceable Ways to Get Co-Workers Fired -- The Colonel Carries On #84

by J.R.R. Tuchas, Sedona Trinkets, Margarita Wings, Eunika Burns, Amber Beata, Freida Rothman, D. Funkt, Bonnie Delaney, Phantasma Geist, and L.G.B.T.Q. Bach

Epigraph: “You are too intelligent to beleef in Gott.” --Ayn Rand’s first words upon meeting William F. Buckley, Jr.

Epigraph 2: “Just an ordinary dead man wearing a green dress and chains.” --Anne Perry

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Governor's Budget Proposal Favors City

Governor Malloy's latest budget provides a very large increase in state aid to our city, according to The CT Mirror. Middletown would receive  $9.2M more than last year's $31.8M.

This 28.9% increase is the 8th largest increase by percentage, of the state's 169 municipalities.

The final state budget is set by the state legislature, which may make significant changes to the Governor's proposal.

Last year, the legislature added a last-minute, special appropriation to the budget bill, turning what would have been a $3.1M decrease into a $2M increase in state funding (Eye article).

This year, one of the sources of new revenue for our city would be a hospital tax. If the legislature, as expected, eliminates such a tax, then Middletown's increase in revenue would fall to $2.2M.

The Common Council approved a budget for the city at their meeting last night. They used last year's number for the state revenue. Any increase or decrease in that number would lead to adjustments in our city's budget.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ OLIVER!!

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week!


Gender: Male
Breed: Domestic Short Hair
Color: Buff
Age:5 years old

I had a rough life living on the road but I’m a social guy who enjoys being pet or sharing your lap when you are reading.   I really enjoy just hanging out with people and relaxing by lying in the rays of sunlight.  Since I had such a rough life on the streets, I am looking for someone who will understand that I will need some time to adjust to my new home and be OK with occasionally giving me medicine when my mouth gets inflamed (stomatitis).  I’m a real sweet boy who is ready to soak up all the love someone is ready to give and would be OK sharing my new home with another non-dominant cat. Come meet me and see how sweet I can be!

Special NeedsNo Dogs

Phone:   860.344.9043
Watch our TV ad:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Colonel Carries On Delayed Till Wed 17 May

The Peggy Stern Trio comes to Russell Library May 18th

On Thursday, May 18th at 7:00pm, concert goers will be delighted by the music of The Peggy Stern Trio at the Hubbard Room of the Russell Library. Sponsored by The Friends of the Russell Library and the Arthur & Edythe Director Family Fund of Congregation Adath Israel, the concert is the last of the library's concert series this spring. 
Peggy Stern. (photo by Brenda Ladd)

In this concert, The Peggy Stern Trio explores the Great American Songbook - a timeless soundtrack written almost entirely by Jews, which gave voice to a saga of love, determination, and assimilation. A few examples include: Cheek to Cheek, My Romance, White Christmas, Embraceable You, Easter Parade, Stormy Weather, and dozens of other songs we all know and love.
Peggy Stern is a musician's musician. She has made her mark in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York City, Europe, Seattle and now Austin. Her multi-hued musical world view also includes classical, salsa, Latin rock, jazz and Rhythm and Blues. She has toured throughout Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan. She is joined in this concert by bassi
st Rich Syracuse and saxophonist George De Leon.

Peggy Stern’s musical adventure has been rich and varied: from Machito to progressive jazz, she has a particularly broad and eclectic background. Peggy is well known as a composer, with four of her tunes featured in the Sher Real Book series. She has worked extensively with Lee Konitz, Emily Remler, Jay Clayton, Diane Schuur, Stanley Turrentine, Gary Peacock, George Mraz, Billy Drewes, and Thomas Chapin, to name a few. Most recently she was featured at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center.

George De Leon is a noted psychologist in the addiction treatment field. He has also maintained a parallel career in Jazz.Tenor saxophonist in the house band of the Art Directors Club, New York City, during the 1970s, he shared the stage with guest artists including Roy Eldridge. Teddy Wilson, Zoot Sims and Joanne Brackeen. As producer of the ' Jazz vs. Junk” series at Phoenix House drug rehabilitation center he led the house band that included Billy Hart, Lyn Christie and Hal Galper with guest headliners such as Clark Terry, Al Cohn, Lee Konitz and Phil Woods. In recent years he was a regular member of the Jazz at Noon series in NYC and has been 'giggin” and recording in Hudson Valley venues with area Jazz colleagues.

Rich Syracuse has been a mainstay in the New York area scene for more than three decades. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He has performed with numerous jazz groups which included Pianist's John Mehegan, Joey Calderazzo, and Ted Rosenthal. He is the Bassist in the 'Nick Brignola Quartet' playing at numerous clubs, festivals, and precipitating in many recording sessions. Besides his years with Brignola, Rich has performed with Mose Allison, Kurt Elling, Dave Liebman, Brubeck Brothers, Warren Bernhardt, Sumi Tonoka, David Torn, Mike DeMicco, Peter Levin, Sam Morrison, Bernard Purdy, Jeff 'Siege' Siegel, Dena DeRose, John Medeski, Michael Musilliami and Ali Demogli. For the past 22 years, Rich has been the Bassist for Pianist Lee Shaw.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Buttonwood Artist on Jimmy Fallon Thursday Night

The Buttonwood Tree (TBT) features performers from all over the world, accomplished and amazing musicians and comedians. Thanks to Paul Gregory, a local up and coming comedian, TBT now features a headlining comedian once a month. Some of theses shows are being sponsored by McEwen Construction, keeping out door fees accessible.

Our first comedian of this series, Mark Normand, will be on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, tonight, 11:35 pm on NBC. Check out Mark Normand and if he tickles your funny bone, come see him at The Buttonwood Tree on Thursday, June 22nd.

Tonight at TBT it's Emma Willmann. For a good time, Buttonwood is where its at!! Tickets here.

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center
605 Main Street / PO Box 71, Middletown, CT 06457 / 860.347.4957 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Support Bicycling In Middletown -- Many Riders Needed!

Spring Discovery Day at Forest City Farms: Explore the Farm in Your Backyard!

We are excited to announce the first annual Spring Discovery Day at Forest City Farms on Saturday, May 20, 2017, from 1-4 pm, 1100 River Road in Middletown (rain date: Sunday, May 21, same time). Bring your family and come explore the farm in your backyard!

This free event will feature fun for all. Plant your own pumpkin, go on a tour of the farm, learn how your fresh produce is grown and the importance of healthy soil, investigate what lives in our soil to help make plants grow, learn how to make compost, and visit the farm stand, along with other kid-friendly hands-on fun!

Forest City Farms is a small organic farm on City owned land along the Connecticut River in Middletown, focused on contributing to the local sustainable food community in which farm manager, Gabe Russo, his wife Allison, and their two young children live. They grow a wide variety of vegetables and culinary herbs that are sold at farmers markets and distributed in local farm shares. The farm’s goal is to grow food ecologically and ethically, and to be a community farm with educational programs to engage local children and families. A portion of the farm shares are subsidized for low income residents, and the farm is approved for SNAP/EDT. The summer CSA begins in June and runs to September; and the fall CSA runs from October to November.

The Forest City Farms Spring Discovery Day is part of a Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District project to enhance urban agriculture in Middletown, funded by a grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts. Project partners include Forest City Farms, Long Lane Farm, the City of Middletown, Middletown High School Agricultural Science and Technology Program, North End Action Team, the Macdonough and Farm Hill School Family Resource Centers, and the Middletown FoodCorps program. Funding for a pilot program to plan and hold two on-farm educational events at Forest City Farms, the first of which is the Spring Discovery Day, was provided in part by a generous grant from The Rockfall Foundation, Middletown, CT.

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Middletown, CT, works to conserve the natural resources of towns in the lower Connecticut River watershed and coastal areas. For more information about District technical and educational programs and services, visit us at, or