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!