Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hype.rlocal Media Spotlight on Art.Lab, Black Eyed Sally's and Eight-Sixty Custom

Welcome to another trip through to the Hyperlocal Media Stream, Hypstas!  As always, I am your host Shawn Perry and this blog is all about celebrating the artists, entrepreneurs and venues that call Hartford County home.  It is also about inspiring in our collective community of people passionate about Hartford an strong sense of PRIDE:

R- Reporting
I- Inspiration
D- Development
E- Entrepreneurship

In short, I talk about what’s been going on in town and color it up with some bright yellow journalism and any of you hypstas read something that sounds interesting and end up trying something new then I encourage you to share your experience with the community by sending it to my email and I will make it a part of this blog or help you to start your own.

Now with all that preamble out of the way we can jump-start this edition of HMS with a spotlight on the newly-opened Art.Lab in Downtown Manchester. Conveniently located next to my favorite local comic book shop Art.Lab is run by a brilliant homegrown artist named Bri Dilla whose work had been featured in a number of art galleries before she opened her studio this past February.  

In addition to hosting events Art.Lab provides instructional art classes both in the studio and at unique venues ranging from local bars like Grady’s Tavern to New Britain Stadium as part of the New Britain Rock Cat’s first-ever Art.Night coming up on Tuesday, July 21st at 6 o’clock.  Passes to Art.Night are still available and include access to a private picnic area as well as complimentary drink.  If interested in Art.Night you can reserve your space by contacting me via email

Prior to the event at New Britain Stadium Art.Lab is hosting their first-ever Silk City Soiree on July 17th featuring complimentary appetizers, live music performances from local artists and beverages provided by what is in my opinion the best new brewery in Connecticut: Top Shelf Brewing Company.  This event will also feature a special appearance by Rocky the Rock Cat who will be there to promote Art.Night as well as Manchester Community Day on Sunday August 16th at 12 o’clock which will promote the local business community and support MACC Charities

One of my favorite local venues in Downtown Hartford is Black Eyed Sally’s and it isn’t just because of their delicious Cajun-style food, relaxed atmosphere and consistent line-up of jazz, rock and blues throughout the year…oh wait, yes it is. Recently, Sally’s regulars Spiritual Rez played one of the best performances I have seen all summer and if you are not familiar Spiritual Rez (then you are missing out) they are a rock-reggae group headed by front man Toft Willingham along with Jesse Shateernick on bass, Quinn Carson on the trombone, Julian Dessler on trumpet, Mohammed Araki on keyboards & keytar, Rob O’Block on lead guitar and Ian “Meat” Miller on drums.  Willingham has a great stage presence and reminds me a little of the late Bradley Nowell...and Jason Mewes.

While the entire ensemble works great together it is not possible for me to write about this group without taking a moment to note the brilliance of Araki on keytar/keyboard who brings an air of unique rhythmic authenticity that, for me, always supports and extenuates the rest of the ensemble’s output.  Oh and the energy these guys bring to the house is off the chain - as you can see from this footage - one literally can’t not have a good time at one of their shows. 

But I digress, if you are looking for a great place to get your fixins of BBQ chicken, collard greens, deviled eggs with a cold locally-brewed beer to wash it down as you enjoy live music Black Eyed Sally’s has Jazz Night every Monday, Blues Jams every Wednesday and a smattering of shows on the weekends featuring great artists like Spiritual Rez so the next time you’re thinking of going out to Sally’s make like Shia Labeouf and just DO IT!!!

The next place I am going to discuss is so awesome that it will appeal to anyone with a fun bone in their body so get stoked because your new favorite place to hang out is Eight-SixtyCustom Skate Shop.  The shop reopened last month after relocating from their original location on Park Street to their massive new location across from the Fast Track at 41 Francis Avenue in Hartford…and it is sick.  

Eight-Sixty Custom Skate Shop features a spacious storefront with local brands on-display like Hoodlum Skateboards as well as a full skating area featuring half-pipes and rails.  There are a number of couches and rest areas to enjoy a concert that are worth exploring as well as an outdoor patio. The grand opening featured performances from a number of local artists...Joey BattsAbnormal Area and Political Animals all took the stage just to name just a few...but I digress, it was both an powerful and uplifting experience to see such an awesome oasis for the community sprout up right in the heart of Hartford and I know that I was not the only who felt that way so check it out!

Until next time: Stay classy Hartford Hypstas!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

HYPErlocal Media Spotlight: Hello Concert Season!

Greetings Hypstas!

The Greater Hartford Region is home to many gifted young professionals and artists who make it a great place to explore our collective passions and develop skills while having new experiences amongst like-minded folk. The sole purpose of this blog is to inspire the HYPE Generation to empower the local art scene by carving a meaningful legacy in this community centered on PRIDE.

R- Reporting
I- Inspiration
D- Development
E- Entrepreneurship

In short, I talk about what’s been going on in town and color it up with some of my own bright yellow journalism and if you read something that sounds interesting or get inspired to try something new I encourage you to do it and share your experience by sending it to my email and I will make it a part of this blog or help you to start your own. Get it? Good then let's get to it!

Concert season is here and over the past month I have seen a number of outdoor concerts played in unique venues ranging from the parking lot of Real Art Ways to the picnic area at New Britain Stadium at a Rock Cats game. 

James MacPherson of Bonsai Trees gave attendees of Young Professionals Night at the Rock Cats game on May 14th the kind of performance that has made his band one of the most sought-after new alt-rock acts in New England.  The talented trio from South Windsor features MacPherson on vocals/guitar along with Nick Sokol on drums and James Cryan on bass.  The band is fresh off recent performances at iconic venues like Toad’s Place in New Haven and House of Blues in Boston and even with two members missing from their stripped-down performance at New Britain Stadium it is clear that the core foundation of this botany-themed outfit is positively bursting with talent.  

Their first release Minimalist has a nice mixture of lo-fi punk and synth pop that I liken to an early Surfer Blood or a less-English and more South-Windsorian-version of The Cribs.  For a less wordy idea of what their music sounds like I recommend checking out the official video for my favorite track off of their album  Who knows, Who knows” or you can always throw me some more of your SEO by watching this time-lapsed sample from their performance at New Britain Stadium.

Last week Real Art Ways held their monthly Creative Cocktail Hour outdoors and set-up a stage for one of the best groups to come out of Hartford’s music scene since I have been paying attention: West End Blend.  If you have never attended one of RAW’s monthly Creative Cocktail Hours then you are sorely missing out as they are the de-facto centerpiece of Hartford’s burgeoning social scene for the arts.  In addition to a great spread of local food and spirits these events feature medium-spanning activities ranging from live music and art galleries to international film festivals and cultural dance exhibitions.  

The early word is that next month’s edition of Creative Cocktail Hour will once again feature an outdoor performance, however, whoever has the task of following last week’s performance by West End Blend will have one helluva tough act to follow…you know what why don’t you let me set the scene: as the setting sun fell over the distant Hartford skyline beyond Real Art Ways this hip-hop/funk/soul unit of genre-mystifying artists slayed conventions and expectations with a rousing performance before a massive crowd of all ages and demos.  While I could sing the praises of everyone in this group for the sake of your attention span I will just say that the lyrical prowess of Tangsauce mixes perfectly with the unbelievable pipes of Erica Bryan amidst the beautiful cacophony that is West End Blend.  Check out the video from their RAW performance for a taste of what you missed and check out their website for tour dates cause...nuff said!

After all those months of being stuck indoors over this long Winter it is pretty sweet to finally hear music being played outdoors in the Hartford area again.  That being said, we are fortunate to also have some great indoor venues like The Half Door to showcase local talent like Hartford’s own Wise Old Moon. This classic venue is a well-known hot bed for local talent with a great staff, delicious late-night menu and a very well endowed tap list.  Check out this video for a taste of what you missed from Wise Old Moon’s recent performance featuring excellent vocals by Guitarist Connor Millican along with Dan Liparini, Greg Perault and Alex Heaton.  Keep an eye out for when this band returns to CT later this summer but first check out their crispy and mellow debut album The Patterns.

Peace Out Hypstas!

Monday, February 9, 2015

HYPErLOCAL Media Blog: The Local Music Scene

                        HYPERLOCAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT ON: The Local Music Scene

By Shawn Perry

Sup Hypsters,

This is not news…but it’s not uncommon to hear transplants and natives alike lament the lack of local venues to listen to music in the Greater Hartford area.  Fortunately, it reflects a lack of information and perhaps a touch of the winter blues as I have been consistently impressed by the range of talented artists that perform in the Hartford area particularly in recent months.  

If anyone is to blame for the growth and quality of the local music scene it is the impressive body of talent that calls the area home as well as the management behind great venues like Infinity Hall and The AngryBull Saloon.

Balkun Brothers released their new album, Redrova, with a special cd release party at Infinity Hall on Wednesday, January 8th along with local favorites West End Blend.  In my opinion, Infinity Hall possess everything you want in a concert hall and these two took full-advantage of its many structural and acoustic endowments with a non-stop show that captured the essence of garage rock revival with blues-infused hard rock and an endless supply of great hooks, shredding solos and catchy refrains off their new record.  Incidentally, Redrova is an impressive follow-up to the duo’s 2013 debut God Bless Our Fallout Shelter that features some stand-out and stand-up tracks in Got My Boots On, Oh Yeah! (Last Jam) and the titular Redrova. Speaking for myself, the raw talent and energy of the performance made it next to impossible for me not to stomp along whereas the funky grooves of soulful hip-hop ensemble West End Blend provided the perfect opening set to the event. The Balkun Brothers returned to the area at The Main Pub in Manchester on February 6th and along with West End Blend will hopefully perform in the area again very soon. 

Over the last month anyone privy to the Radio 104 HomeBrew Battle of the Bands taking place at the Angry Bull Saloon has been treated to some pretty damn good music on Friday nights courtesy of some of Connecticut’s finest young artists.  There is no cover charge for the event, they have great drink specials and it continues through the end of the month until the finals on Friday, February 27th.

So if you’re looking for to do on Friday night around 9ish you should stop in for some great local music.... but don’t take my word for it, check out some of the great performances by recent acts Tragically Said, Fight the Fear, Uncle Sonny, Soul Ascension and Big Moon below!

Uncle Sonny

Soul Ascension

Big Moon

That’s its from me for now but be on the lookout for future posts about the local music scene as well as the general art scene in Hartford county.  My next piece will focus on venues that specialize in showcasing an eclectic range of artistic mediums – such as; art studios, cinemas, geek havens, theaters and everything in-between – but in the meantime, consider checking out upcoming events at Real Art Ways, A Heroes Legacy and Art.Lab if you’re looking for places that provide a platform for the many talented artists that call the area home.
Peace Out Hypnodes!