Like everyone else, I have a routine every morning. It all starts with coffee and firing up the laptop. I check the Twitter feed, my Hotmail account, and then onto Facebook. Yesterday was no different. I get to my wall, and there was a rather “subtle” message Kristin Cusato. “The Mike Cusato Band at Stella Blues in New Haven”.
As we all know, I really like WTNH, and all the people there. Except for Matt Scott. Just kidding Matt. Kind of. Now the whole reason this Social Media and networking thing works for me, is that not only do we all get some good exposure for some of things we do, it also gives me info for the site. Now I have had Stella Blues, and Mike’s full band on the radar for a while. Problem is, sometimes I just don’t have enough time.
This time was different. It’s Wednesday, and I also know that George Lesiw is playing at the Owl Shop, so, now I can kill four birds with one stone. How’s that for multi tasking? I get into New Haven, and luck out yet again and find a parking spot right on Crown. Even midweek at night, on street parking is tough. Granted, there are a ton of garages, but I kinda like the challenge of finding street parking. I walk the two blocks to The Owl Shop, and walk in.
Now this is actually the first time in there for me, and although I know the place by reputation, I am still amazed. Clouds of cigar smoke, shelf upon shelf of some of the finest sipping whiskeys in the city, and the feel that this is where a lot of business deals really get done. Yeah, this place oozes “Ivy League” and “back room”. I was actually expecting George either in an acoustic duo, or maybe a three piece, but to my surprise, he had a full band going, right down to a stand up acoustic bass. I had been told that George is one of the best jazz guitarists, bar none, and although I did not stay long, I did stay long enough to confirm that one. A little too much smoke for me, but other than that, a really cool scene.
One of the things I like about New Haven, is that there are so many places to hang on Crown, College, and Temple. Pretty much something for everyone. But for me, the primary attraction would be Stella Blues. They opened about 2 years ago, and really started to do music heavily in the past year. They may not do as much as cafe Nine on State street, but then again, not many places in the state do. Anyways, I walk in, and I like what I see. It has the feel of music. Drop ceiling that is actually pretty cool acoustically, painted black. Rough finish plaster wall, and a well worn wood floor that is perfect for dancing. Throw in a very cool bar, and lot’s of really good beer, and you got what I consider a great place.
For the record, I have seen Mike and Tim in their acoustic duo “Those Two Guys” so I knew that they were talented. I was not disappointed in any way. The Mike Cusato band can really can rock, and having Tim sit in with them, just made them rock that much harder. The best part of it though was that it was all original music. That is a rare find in the state. Now this where you expect me to say, “they are reminiscent of…” Not happening. What I will say is that, as with all the local bands that do original music, these guys are worth the trip. They have what it takes to put on a great show. Strong, consistent “back line”, edgy guitar work, powerful vocals, and great harmonies. These guys love what they do and it shows.