by Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez
Whew! Whatta week! I managed to catch four, count em, four bands this week along with a stop at Bandwith Karoake at Center Station Pub in Berlin on Friday night. Here’s what I remember…!!!!!!!
Friday night we decided to travel way out of our comfort zone to check out Graylight Campfire at Ray Kelly’s in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport. And I am so glad we did! Not only is it a pretty cool place to see a band (and just right for GC), but pretty easy to get to for out-of-towners. Graylight ripped up the place with a combination of Graylight tunes – old and some new material (yay!)-, some solo Dave Hogan, and a few covers thrown in, including an awesome “Bertha”. Well worth the trip! (http://davehoganmusic.com/graylight.htm)
On Saturday, with so many options available!, we went to Zen Bar in Plainville to check out She Eats Planets with warm up band, 1974. 1974 was a very pleasant surprise. A five member original band from Newington, they were outstanding. They played songs from their album, “The Battle for the Lazer Fortress”. I will admit that I haven’t had the chance to listen yet but I’m told by Mike Lawson that it’s pretty great. Check em out some time! I hear rumor that they will team up with She Eats Planets again on March 10 at Zen Bar! And speaking of SEP…What can I say? It’s always a pleasure to watch Sara Hart sing her heart out in front of the SEP players. The played a bunch of tunes from “Liftoff” along with many others. Sara just kicks your ass! SEP is continuing their efforts to fund their next record so please help with their Kickstart Our Art campaign. Please help them get their music heard, people!
To round out the week, Loves It! demonstrated to us just what Indy Western Pop is and it was a delight! They played Arch Street Tavern on Tuesday night. You may recall I interviewed one half of the duo last week (she’s from New Haven and he’s from West Virginia.) And what a show they put on. The each played acoustic guitar and took turns with vocals. They each jumped in with other instruments including mandolin and violin from Jenny (who sings like an angel) and banjo from Vaughn. They played tunes from their excellent “Yay” CD including Dinosaurs (which was great fun as Jenny ran around the venue and Vaughn rawd from the stage), Bobby Kennedy, and Me Alone. Another great night at Arch.
Post Script to my interview with Vaughn last week…As I pulled up outside of Arch Street, I saw the RV that Loves It! travels around in parked on the street. One side is curiously painted with the Japanese Rising Sun. Vaughn told me that they loaned the RV to some folks making a film and, along with some other much-needed maintenance, they painted the Rising Sun! He says they’ve seen an uptick in being stopped by the police because of it including 2 stops in one day near Mexico and searched!
Loves It! is a fun band fronted by 2 very original people. Pick up their CD here! (http://www.lovesitmusic.net)
Pretty certain this week will be a little lighter as I rehearse for The Charter Oak Cultural Center’s production of The Vagina Monologues. When you go, you can see the awesome new tattoo exhibit from “Green Man Tattoos” in their gallery. Did you pick up your tickets yet? I’m serious. I better see you there! You can get your tickets here! (http://charteroakcenter.org/)
Support LOCAL! And, as always…
Occupy a VENUE!!
“Spot”light on…Rick Bober, Production Manger, Arch Street Tavern
Arch Street Tavern has a long and colorful history in Hartford. The landmark at 85 Arch Street was built in 1895 and has had multiple uses including a firehouse. But in 1978, it became what is now Arch Street Tavern. Rick Bober took over as its production manager in April of 2011. His goal was to reinvigorate live entertainment at Arch. I must confess, I hadn’t really given Arch must thought as a music venue until the latter half of last year. Since then, I’ve seen quite a few amazing local and national acts at Arch which boasts a brand new stage with a state of the art sound system engineered by a professional sound team. Now, when I’m thinking of seeing live music and wondering where I might go, I always consider The Arch. I spoke with Rick about what’s going on at The Arch.
lsg: How and when did you become involved with Arch Street as its production manager?
RB: It happened back in April of 2011. I was out of the music industry for about 2 years and I was working down at Foxwoods at their night club and I was definitely missing live music. I was looking for anything to try and get back involved in it. On a booking aspect, I was still managing some local bands in the area but that really just wasn’t putting on a live production and I was missing that rush instead of the mundane in and out abstract work at a night club. I talked to a friend who worked with the Hartford Party Starters and he said they (Arch) were looking for a full time night life person there who could handle booking and marketing and trying to get this place back on the map. And he gave me the email for the owner, Jerry Collins, and I sent him my resume and he called back later that night and I had an interview the next day. And, sure enough, 2 days later I put in my 30 day notice with Foxwoods and was at Arch Street.
lsg: Badabing! Good timing all around!
RB: Yeah. Walking into the place, they didn’t have a working PA anymore, there was no stage, and they hadn’t really focused on doing live bands since the 80’s and 90’s so it was a…the place really needed a shot in the arm.
lsg: So wait. The stage that’s there right now wasn’t there? I’m trying to remember what it used to look like.
RB: No. They built the stage in late May. It’s a fully functional stage. It’s sound-proofed , it’s got trap doors at the back for storage for lighting and stands. I mean none of that was there before.
lsg: Ok. So you’ve been booking some amazing live bands. What are you looking for in a band/performer for Arch?
RB: Well that’s a great question. The thing I learned when I was working at the Webster Theater is that you can’t pigeon hole yourself into one genre. And there’s only so much money for each market in Connecticut, especially Hartford. You gotta go with anything from hip hop to jam bands to electronic. I am open to any genre to bring to Arch because I think that that place is open to every scene possible. I love baby bands that are on major labels that are just starting to come through like we had Grieves and Budo play one night earlier this year and Josh Townsend came through earlier this past summer. I love a major labor band that’s just on the cusp of its way up and then a month later or 2 months later, you see them on tv or on a major tour. We had Grieves and Budo back in December, they are an Indie Hip Hop group, and sure enough, right after the tour they got off with us, they got picked up on the Gym Class Heroes tour.
lsg: If a band is looking to play at Arch Street, what’s the best way to contact you and what would you want from them for consideration?
RB: Best way to reach us. Go right to our Facebook or archstreettavern.com website and the contact email is right on there. It’s the best way to start off. My least favorite way for a band to try and get into consideration is to just send me an electronic press it with no message. Like one of those blank form messages. I just ignore those altogether. You know, a nice letter saying where you’ve played, the genre you fit in, shows that you’ve noticed at Arch already shows that they aren’t just sending out mass emails. I’ve seen you’ve had bands a, b, and c and this is the kind of genre we fit into. That gives me an idea of where to wrap my head around what they do so I can see where I can add them as a support act for a large event.
lsg: I saw quite a few shows last year at Arch, especially some great Live and Local shows. I think my favorite was M.T. Bearington, String Theorie, and Jennifer Hill & Company. What were some of your favorites or biggest draws last yea
RB: Live and Local by far are my favorites. I’ve known Chip (McCabe) since 2001 when we both went to CCSU together and we ran WFCS radio. That’s where I kind of got the booking bug from us working together 10 years ago. I always wanted to do a tv show like that at the Webster but I never had the opportunity because our insurance policy wouldn’t allow for live video so we couldn’t never film anything. So this opportunity to have a finished product on the web for prosperity so I get to see it like once a month, you can’t beat those shows.
lsg: It is pretty cool and a great opportunity for local bands in our area because obviously some may or may not be able to be on tv. How great is that?
RB: You know, I didn’t realize how great the response would be to the show. I mean people watching are watching “Family Guy” or “Seinfeld”, and then next thing you know, Arch Street’s on with a live concert. I get tons of emails with great feedback from the Live and Local shows. My other favorite shows that we’ve done are three, two-day festivals with 30 bands. And it reminds me of the old days when I was a kid going to the Webster and you’d just see the scene come out. You’d see the little hipster girls and the tattooed guys come out watching music all day that are different genres. It just feels like a concert venue. Those days we fill the entire room and feel like a full-fledged concert venue.
lsg: Do you plan to expand your entertainment to include other acts like burlesque or anything like that?
RB: I’m always open to anything. Yes. Burlesque is actually something I’ve been toying with because we do our once a month Indie dance party, Shag Frenzy. And that’s something we could incorporate into it. My favorite Shag Frenzy night is one when we could have Derek spinning in the beginning and then some small band or Burlesque or some sort of intermission show for a half hour in the middle and then close it off again. That has a nice built in crowd and it really gives you the flexibility to really do anything that night. I also think it’s a great room for comedy and I’d like to try that. And we can also take larger acts than you might think because have a stage outside, like when we had a national country artist come out, we expanded the stage another 6 feet out and pulled out all the booths. So you can get some really large productions in there.
lsg: Do you have a “white whale” band that you’d love to have play Arch but haven’t been able to?
RB: (laughs) Yes! I really want Murder by Death. I think they are perfect for that room and they have Connecticut roots and I think they’re fantastic. I’d love to see Chromeo as well. Off the top of my head, I’d go with Murder by Death.
lsg: So Arch isn’t just a place to see live music , though. It’s a tavern. What else do you want folks to know about Arch?
RB: Well, it’s been well-established, like you said, for over 30 years and its part of the Front Street production that they are trying to build up to make the new, exciting side of downtown Hartford. We have a movie theater moving in and once the foot traffic starts coming through the area, we’re going to have the opportunity to bring in bigger and better acts on a consistent basis. Right now, people that work in downtown Hartford already know to come in for lunch and the people that don’t, they should. The menu is fantastic. There’s great specials. Friendly bartenders. It’s a warm atmosphere to have a cocktail, some food, and then stay around for some live music.
lsg: Yes. You definitely do have friendly bartenders. We always get great service from smiling bartenders (and wait staff as well). It is a good place to be.
lsg: So rave about something on the menu. Go!
RB: (laughs) Rave about something on the menu! Ok. The burgers are fantastic and the staff favorite by far is the macaroni and cheese.
lsg: What are your plans for Arch in 2012? What’s the big picture?
RB: There are lots of things. Keep expanding our presence in the market. We’ve gone from nowhere in April to begin on television to having liquor sponsorship to being involved in local radio. We have Nectar’s that comes in as our outside promoters which really helps out a lot too because I’m only one person and having a great company like them involved, they bring in some fantastic acts as well. We just want to keep expanding. We went from off the radar to hoping to win Best Live Music in the Hartford Advocate this year.
lsg: Well I know I voted for Arch! I absolutely did because to me, hands down. I never used to really think of coming into Hartford for live music. I mean there are so few places. There are so few limited shows. I find myself looking forward to seeing what you’ve got coming in. So far, I think you’ve done a stellar job! I think you’re really starting to maybe kind of change some of the attitudes about Hartford and what’s available.
RB: That point right there is one of the reasons I really wanted this job. I have this amazing opportunity. All the other venues in the Hartford area are stuck in this old mentality on how to promote the market shows. We’re trying to be really progress trying to be on Twitter and Facebook and I know that sounds like easy stuff but if you look at half the venues in the area, they don’t have that ability. Other than the Webster, we’re the only venue in Hartford that has pre-ticket sales available on line. We treat ourselves like a real venue and we’re hoping other people start to think that way as well.
lsg: So my last question, and it’s always off topic…Just whatever floats into my head for the day. It’s a question near and dear to folks in these parts because there’s a battle between New York and Boston coming up soon. Who is going to win the Super Bowl?
RB: The Patriots! I’m a diehard Redskins fan and the fact that the Giants are in the same division as the Redskins, I cannot root for the Giants. I’ll stick with New England because that’s where I was born and raised so I’ll take the Patriots and Tom Brady (writer’s note…blek!)
Well then, with that methodology, since The Dolphins missed it this year (W.E.), I’ll go with…Gooooo G-Men!
Help Rick catch his “white whale”! Check out this video from Murder by Death. If you dig it, write on the band’s Facebook page and tell them you want them to come to Arch Street Tavern in Hartford, CT. Let’s do it for Rick for bringing so much amazing live music to all of us! And next time you’re at Arch, say hi to Rick and tell him Local Band Review sent you.
What’s HOT this week…
Friday January 27
*Reckless Abandon, Center Station Pub – 6:00 pm
* BLACASTAN, Duece Bug, Metamusick, Vorheez, Sub.Criminals + more!, The Corner Pocket, Orange – 9:00 pm
* Casa de Warrenton’s Ne’er-do-well Robot, Sully’s Pub, Hartford – 9:00 pm
* Mixed Signals, Airport Road Café, Hartford – 9:00 pm
*String Theorie, Firebox, Hartford – 8:30 pm
*Capital Zen, Deep in Green, Arch Street, Hartford – 9:00 pm
Saturday January 28
*Shag Frenzy, Arch Street, Hartord – 8:00 pm
*Manic Productions presents the SOLD OUT Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) w/ Prana-Bindu @ Wadsworth Atheneum – 7:00
*Hygienic Art presents The Rock Fix 2012 featuring Daphne Lee Martin and Rais the Rent and The Suicide Dolls, Crocker House Ballroom, New London – 7:00 pm
*Suckerfish at Bleacher’s Sports Bar, Bristol – 9:00 pm
*Fuzzy Bunny & The Dirty Cupcakes and Colt 6, Dittos, Litchfield– 9:00 pm
*Drive Time, The Green Line, Wolcott– 9:00 pm
*John Fries & The Heat, The Commoner, New London– 9:30 pm
* DRIVEN, Blackstone Irish Pub, Southington – 10:00 pm
Thursday February 2
*Nectar’s presents Wildlife, M.T. Bearington solo, Arch Street, Hartford – 9:00 pm
Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez aka lsg
Lover of music and the visual arts, Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez is the insanity behind lsg original photography. lsg specializes in artist and performer photography. She’s had the honor of photographing national bands such as Weezer, Snoop Dogg, A Simple Plan, Paramore, Whitesnake, Wye Oak, and The Antlers along with countless local bands and performers.
Hailing from Hartford, CT, Lisa is a life- long music connoisseur. Growing up, her mother exposed her to everything from The Stones to Simon and Garfunkel to Earth, Wind, and Fire to Loretta Lynn…and everything in between. No genre was left unexplored in her vinyl collection. She saw her first concert at 14…Rod Stewart at the (then called) Hartford Civic Center. Thirty years later, it’s still her favorite pastime.
Lisa has two kids (grown!) and a day job. Her loves of music and photography have melded into a second career. And her love of CT keeps her promoting and pushing for local artists and performers. Lisa spends the greater part of her free time seeing and shooting live bands, performers, and artists and art work…and purchasing vinyl!