I just love the way Ken writes about his own weekly open mics at CJ Sparrows in Cheshire, so when he performed at my open mic last week as part of the Sophisticatos (with Bill Blue and Rich Dart), I asked if he would write something about ours. Here it is!
A JANUARY NIGHT IN GUILFORD CT by Ken Safety
Rich Dart, Bill Blue, DW Ditty, and Ken Safety
I was recently invited to perform with my group The Sophisticatos. Sandy Connolly hosts a monthly acoustic mic at The Country Tavern in Guilford CT. Having attended this event before I responded to Sandy’s offer to have featured acts that are ” a little out of the norm”. Along with sidekick guitarist Bill Blue and drummer Rich Dart, I grabbed my saxophone and made way for the Wednesday evening event.
The recent snow storm did nothing to dampen the participation at TCT. Patrons are forced to double park with limited parking and no one cares. Throughout the night individuals are summoned to move their vehicles so others may get out. It’s only one of the unusual charms that one will discover at Sandy Connolly’s Open Mic.
Upon entering the performance area is set to at the immediate left. Don Briggs ( sound man ) for dB AUDIO has laid out a well stocked supply of microphones main speakers and stage monitors. DB’s setup is ready to handle any situation that may arise. With an open mic, one never knows what will happen. Wednesday’s show certainly was no exception.
The “sign up”list was at the door and already had names placed. The Sophisticatos were inked in for the 8:30pm featured spot. Nice!!! Sandy is bustling around greeting friends and musicians while over seeing the night’s line up. It’s no easy chore but SC moves effortlessly, spending time with everyone. She greets me and insists on getting me a drink. ” Oh I suppose I can be coerced into a cocktail”. The room fills up as Sandy takes the opening set along with House drummer Joe Pecoraro, Bassist Rob Nelson and keyboardist Justin Paglino. The “house” guys will be available through out the night. They’ll offer support as well as performing in the variety of entertainment that is in store for the growing
Jessica keeping everyone’s drinks filled!
crowd. Patrons grab a drink order some food and settle in. Sandy plays her guitar and sings with ease and confidence. The band sounds great and the show will now continue, non stop, for the next 3+ hours.
Solo artists. Ukelele players. Novelty acts. The Russian quartet portrayal was hilarious and can be found on Sandy Connolly’s Facebook page. Check it out. Accordian Justin Paglino,
Guitar Mark Cascio, Lead singer and uke player John Liebler, and Rob Nelson on the bass. The boys donned fur hats and heavy russian coats for the set.
The Racket Downstairs
The styles of music are diverse with duos performing as well as full band line ups. Jill Grey’s vocal and ukelele set with guitarist George Papallo was a highlight.
The Muddy Rudders: Singer & guitar player Mike Infantino, Singer & harp Rick Comes, Guitar Bob Crosman put on a wonderful performance. Other “mix and match” performances keep the flow going and the audience well entertained.
Members of the Muddy Rudders plus Bob Crosman
The Sophisticatos are enthusiastically received as they roll through a set of jazz standards. Billy Blue and Rich Dart expertly provide guitar and drums backing as Ken Safety honks his sax and sings a few. Dancers step up. The trio goes into a “one liner” comedy routine that inspires audience members to come to microphone and tell a joke. Bill Blue gets nice applause with his version of “Strangers In The Night”. The Sophisticatos are not bashful and and take a stab at “The Love Boat Theme” ( what the heck Valentine’s Day is right around the corner ). The crowd sings along on “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”. Car jockeying continues without a hitch. There’s fun going on here. What a night!!!!
The Sophisticatos: Rich Dart, Ken Safety, and Bill Blue
Local music star DW Ditty follows The ‘Catos and requests their back up for his set. Don Briggs swings into action outfitting the change of lineup. Sandy introduces the acts and the open mic just sails along to everyone’s delight.
Sandy Connolly’s Open Mic is a regular occurrence ( the last Wednesday of every month ) at Guliford’s Country Tavern. Highly recommend if you want to hear some good music and have a good time. Thanks for doing it Sandy.