Monday, September 25, 2017

Newest Artist-In-Residence on the New England Trail performs free show Wednesday

The Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s latest New England Trail Artist-in-Residence, Ben Cosgrove, will perform and talk about his upcoming residency Wednesday night at the Wesleyan University science center. Ben composes and performs music inspired by New England landscapes, and will spend the next 12 months writing and performing music inspired by the New England Trail (NET)

The New England Trail, from Long Island Sound
to Mount Monadnock. Plenty of parking!
(Click to embiggen.)
The New England Trail runs 215 miles from the Guilford shore to the Massachusetts/New Hampshire Border, ("from the Sound to the Summits"), and in 2009 became one of just eleven federally-designated national scenic trails. It's comprised primarily of the historic Mattabesett, Metacomet, and Monadnock Trail systems and passes through 42 communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts, including Middletown.
The New England Trail Artist-in-Residence program is a project of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, the Appalachian Mountain Club and the National Park Service. The artists help to create and deepen people's connections to the land, particularly the shared resource of the New England Trail. Past artists include poet David K. Leff, and photographers Xiomaro and Barbara Bosworth.
Ben performs regularly all over the country, writes scores for films, plays, radio, and television, and has produced several well-received albums of original instrumental work. He says the strongest forces guiding his compositions are his deep interests in landscape, place, and ecology.   
Wednesday's event is co-sponsored by Wesleyan University’s Earth & Environmental Science Department. Further details here on CFPA's web site.

WhenWednesday, September 27, 2017 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm  
Where: Exley Science Ctr. Lobby (Lawn Ave. side) 265 Church St.  (Parking may be available at Lot D on Lawn Avenue.)   RSVP: RSVP recommended Price: FREE

Video: title track to Ben's album "Salt"

Free Film Series to Feature Forgotten Farms

The 2017-2018 season of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series will kick off  Monday, October 2, 2017 with a screening of Forgotten Farms, about New England's dairy farmers. The film will be shown at 7 pm, at Wesleyan University's Powell Family Cinema, 310 Washington Terrace, Middletown (directions). All films are open to the public and free of charge!

As stated on the film's website, New England has lost over 10,000 dairy farms in the past 50 years, and fewer than 2,000 farms remain. Collectively, these farms tend 1.2 million acres of farmland and produce almost all of the milk consumed in New England. In our enthusiasm for the new food movement, we often overlook the farmers at the foundation of the regional agricultural economy. Only 100 years ago, New England produced most of its own food on 16 million acres of farmland. Climate change will demand that more of our food is grown closer to where we live. As we strive to revive local production, we have much to learn from dairy farmers who have been managing most of the farmland and sustaining the farm economy all along. Through conversations with farmers and policy experts, the film reconsiders the role of these vital but forgotten farmers.

After the film, everyone is welcome to stay for an informal discussion. If you have questions please contact our office, 860-346-3282.

This film screening is part of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series, begun in 2015 by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment.

We hope you can join us!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Read for the Right to Read at Russell Library!

Banned Books Week is the annual celebration of the freedom to read.

For this year's celebration, we have members of the community as well as members of the Russell Library staff reading from banned books of their choice.

The dates & times of the read alouds are as follows:
Monday September 25 from 5:00 to 6:00pm, Dic Wheeler of ArtFarm will begin the read alouds with a selection from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Dr. Helen Evrard will be reading from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Others, including staff members, will be reading from banned books of their choice.

Tuesday September 26 from 5:00 to 6:30pm, Richard Kamins of Readers Theater, and others, will read aloud from banned books of their choice.

Wednesday September 27 from 1:00 to 2:00pm (or later) Kristin Palmer of Oddfellows Playhouse, and others, will read from banned books of their choice.

All of the community is invited to participate!

Drop by and pick out a passage from your favorite banned book. Banned Books Week emphasizes the importance of the First Amendment, which guarantees our inherent right to read.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

PAC Created to Support Building of New Middle School

A group of Middletown residents have created a political action committee to urge fellow residents to vote "yes" on a referendum item to fund the building of a new middle school.  The referendum question will appear on the ballot.  A "yes" vote favors building a new middle school.

The PAC, called MiddleSchoolYes, has created a website to disseminate information, and to collect a small amount of money to fund the printing of campaign handouts.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Saturday Jazz (Up Close + Solo)

Pianist, composer, educator, and author (he also plays guitar and sings) Noah Baerman is the curator of Jazz Up Close!, a program sponsored by the Russell Library, the Shoreline Arts Alliance, the Middletown Commission on the Arts (and others. This Saturday September 23, Mr. Baerman, alto saxophonist Kris Allen, and bassist Henry Lugo welcome Brazilian-born drummer and percussionist Rogério Boccato for the "Crossing Cultures" program to take place at 1:30 p.m. in the Hubbard Room of the Russell Library, 123 Broad Street.

Boccato, who has worked and/or and recorded dozens of contemporary musicians including bassist John Pattitucci, composer Maria Schneider's Orchestra, vocalist Michael Franks, and UCONN/Storrs Professor of Music Earl MacDonald, teaches at the Manhattan School of Music and has served on the Percussion Faculty at the Hartt School/University of Hartford.  He also has a long association with artists from his home country including Milton Nascimento, Dori Caymmi, Hermeto Pascoal, and the late Antonio Carlos Jobim.

This should be a fascinating concert, with good insights into the world of percussion and creative music.  Bring your questions!  For more information, go to

Here's Senhor Boccato playing with Hartford natives Luques & Zaccai Curtis (The Curtis Brothers) on their "Completion of Proof" album:

Pianist, composer, and educator Laszlo Gardony returns to The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street in Middletown, on Saturday (9/23) at 8 p.m. for a concert of solo piano music.  Professor Gardony, who is on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, is a frequent visitor to The Buttonwood.  He's in town to celebrate the release of his latest Sunnyside Records album, "Serious Play", a delightful collection of works including a number of originals and standards such as "Georgia on My Mind" and John Coltrane's "Naima."  The pianist pays with great fire, great emotion and has a lifetime love for melody and improvisation. I know for a fact he loves playing in the intimate performance space because of the receptive audiences and how close people sit.  

For ticket information, go to or call 860-347-4957. To find out more about the pianist, go to

Here is the title track of his splendid new album:

Monday, September 18, 2017

Board of Education Votes to Hire Dr. Michael T. Conner As New Superintendent

At a special meeting on Monday night September 18, The Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Dr. Michael T. Conner as new superintendent of schools for Middletown.  Board members Linda Szynkowicz and Cheryl McClellan were not present for the vote. Common Council members Gene Nocera, Gerry Daley, Deb Kleckowski and Bob Santangelo were among the many members of the public, teachers, principals, administrators and city leaders who were in the room for the vote.  Mayor Dan Drew was not present.

Conner will replace Pat Charles who will be retiring in November.

The public vote at the Monday's followed a unanimous vote by the selection committee.

Conner thanked the Board and the city for welcoming him, and his family to the city.

Conner has been in Norwalk since 2015, working under Superintendent Steven Adamowski.  Conner also worked for Adamowski in Windham where Adamowski was appointed as "Special Master" by the State Department of Education after Windham failed to meet state standards in test score improvement.  As a result, the State designated Windham a "turnaround" district and took control of the Board of Education.

In Norwalk, where Conner was Chief Academic Officer, the district recently reported closing the achievement gap by one-third.

New Schools Superintendent

From a profile in 2015
The Eye has learned that Dr. Michael T. Conner has been selected to lead the City's public schools. Conner is Chief Academics Officer for the Norwalk schools under Steven Adamowski.  He previously worked with Adamowski in Windham.

The Board of Education will vote on Conner's hiring at their meeting tonight (7:30 PM, Council Chambers).

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Buttonwood tree goes ELECTRIC for BOB DYLAN!!

Suzanne Sheridan Band

September 15      810 pm

The music of BOB DYLAN tonight at TBT!
Some singers sing but there are others who possess powers beyond putting notes to words. When Suzanne Sheridan sings you could swear she knows you, that she is singing to you, that she understands your soul. And she is also a great entertainer.
She is uniquely a philosopher/songwriter in her own right and a performer who knows how to cover the music of other great songwriters including Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, and James Taylor.
You will be treated to all the above and probably some surprises as she returns to The Buttonwood Tree with her band, The Suzanne Sheridan Band – Bob Cooper on keyboards; Colin Healy on fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and backup vocals; and Paul Horton on electric lead guitar.

Ann Sweeten: Solo Piano Concert

September 16      8 - 9:30 pm

Includes a reception after the concert.

After nearly 20 years of enamoring audiences on the Concert stage and on Radio/Internet Airwaves, Ann Sweeten’s  signature style is recognized world-wide and now her new album, Where Butterflies Dance is without question her most ambitious and successful to date.  Will Ackerman, co-producer, had this to say: There is no greater compliment I can give any musician than to say they have their own artistic voice.  They are uniquely themselves and bring something utterly their own to the world.  Ann Sweeten is one of those rare musicians.  The grace one associates with Ann’s performance has been matched by what I believe are the best melodies of her career.  At a time when many artists might choose to coast on their notoriety, Ann  has raised the bar considerably and we, the listeners, are the beneficiaries of her ambition and skill.   Really brilliant.

One of the most decorated pianists of the past decade with 7 previous albums all ranking in the Top 5 NAR and ZMR Radio Reports, Sweeten is also one of the most played modern instrumentalists in North America. A truly well-rounded individual and artist, Ms. Sweeten is a staunch environmentalist, animal activist and vegetarian. In addition to her Concert and Recording career, she is also a professional actress/singer/dancer with Actor’s Equity Association.  Ann Sweeten is herself a Breast Cancer survivor twice over and is involved with the Arts in Healthcare Initiative.

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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Video Of Main Street Stroll

Last Saturday, hundreds of people enjoyed live music, arts, children's activities, and a parade on Main Street. The event was organized by Wesleyan, and many of Main Street's businesses eagerly participated.  The stores and restaurants were full.

Aldon Hynes, Community Health Center's Wondrous Wizard of Widgets, shot video of the parade.

DJI_0001 from Community Health Center, Inc. on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Meet and Greet Democratic Candidates, September 18

Action Together – Middlesex County and the Greater Middletown Young Democrats will be hosting a Meet the Candidates night for the democratic candidates running for Board of Education and Planning & Zoning in Middletown, CT.
The event will be held on Monday, September 18th in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library (123 Broad St. Middletown, CT) with a reception at 6:00PM and panel questions beginning promptly at 6:30.
This will be a great opportunity to learn about the candidates running and what their vision is for Middletown.

Please submit questions to:

Ballot Set For November 7 Election

The Democratic and Republican registrars held a lottery this morning at City Hall to determine the order of names on the ballot for this year's municipal elections.

Deputy Democratic Registrar Bill Boyd stands by the results (click photo to enlarge).

Eye disclosure: The author is one of the candidates for Planning and Zoning Commission.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Strange Doorway to Another World Closes in Middletown -- The Colonel Carries On #100

by Bishop Fortunatianus, Bible commentator, and Matt N.A. Idol, heartthrob

Epigraph: “Why pay for what you can get for free?” --Passphrase to get into Louis’s Speakhard

“Hetti” is a nickname for the English girl’s names Harriet, Hester, and Henrietta, all of which derive from “Henry,” meaning “Lord of the Manor.”

Hetti Bywater’s formal name is Harriet Jessica P Bywater (born 10 September 1994). The “P” is apparently like the “S” in Harry S Truman: no following period and it stands for nothing but itself.

I know you’re racking your brain trying to remember who Hetti Bywater is. Well, let your brain off the rack. She’s that English actress best known for playing Lucy Beale in the BBC soap opera “East Enders.” Now it comes back to you!