Aficionados of the Hartford jazz scene are keenly aware of the Hartt School’s powerful influence on the local – and national – creation of original jazz and blues. After all, every summer Monday Night Jazz and its “after concert” venue, Black Eyed Sally’s, feature a virtual who’s-who of Hartt graduates. A more surprising discovery for local lovers of original music is the formative role Hartt School alums are playing across genres in Hartford’s up-and-coming music scene.
For those of us who appreciate the infectious allure of genre-blending and blues-infused live music, two Hartt inspired projects to check out are Hog River Brewing’s live music schedule and neighboring Parkville Sounds. A founding block of Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood revitalization, Hog River is hosting a distinctively bluesy “Twang Thursday” music series through October 26th, featuring original songwriters and performers from across the region (http://www.hogriverbrewing.com/). It’s more than worth a visit for the quality of the musicality and the outstanding micro-brewed beer (and just like Monday Night Jazz, dogs are always welcome).
Leading off the series a few weeks back and serving as musical curators and “emcees”, Wise Old Moon features Hartt graduate Stephen Cusano on drums, band-leader and songwriter Connor Millican on vocals and guitar, electric guitarist Ian Meadows and bassist Greg Lake. Listeners will immediately recognize the blues threads woven through Wise Old Moon’s roots/rock performances, a quintessentially “Americana” blend that borrows from this country’s rich fabric of musical – and cultural – traditions. The lilting sway of Wise Old Moon’s rhythms lures the listener into the deceptively inventive music-making, a potent reminder of exactly why the blues are so seductive (and why everyone likes jazz and blues). Snippets of Wise Old Moon’s music, a performance schedule and background on the band members’ other projects are at http://wiseoldmoonband.com/
Millican and Cusano are also founders (along with Mitch Morlber and Hartt graduate Jillian Foley) of Parkville Sounds, Hartford’s new creative rehearsal, practice and session space. Parkville Sounds, like Hog River, is a key element in the Parkville borough’s renaissance as a thriving center of creative and entrepreneurial economic development. Given the inherently entrepreneurial spirit of the country’s founding blues and jazz artists, what could be more fitting than Jackie McClean’s musical progeny leading Hartford’s musical revitalization? Stay tuned for more about Parkville Sounds (https://www.parkvillesounds.com/) and Hartford’s emerging original music scene, and in the mean time, keep supporting original music.