Let the Song Go On . . .
In case you’re not acquainted with Bruce Martin, suffice to say Bruce is noted for his formation of the Blues Café. And, for those who don’t know what the Blues Café is, Bruce explained it this way. ‘Well, it’s not about blues, and it’s not a café. It originated as a house concert series in his basement in Sandy Hook.’ Bruce describes Blues Café events as a community celebration featuring singer/songwriter performers with a focus on an Americana genre.
Many are not aware of house concerts in the area, but according to Bruce there are quite a few. However, when Bruce moved to Heritage Village 11 years ago, there was no basement and so he turned to his friend Tracy Grammar to discover a new venue. The VFW in Southbury was approached and their answer was ‘yes’. The VFW hall reflects the intimacy of a house concert with plenty of space to build on the concept.
Currently, an afternoon agenda begins with a potluck feast when doors open at 1PM. Then, local artists participate prior to the featured act which usually begins around 3PM. Bruce always encourages amateurs to perform and they, in turn, appreciate the opportunity to display their talent. First time patrons are always well impressed with the music, the performers, and the food.
Many attendees bring a variety of dishes to share. As there were 115 guests (Pre-covid, post covid about 70), the food must be managed. Bruce is always amazed at the generosity of the trays of food that attendees donate; such as lasagna, chili, pastas, etc. That’s where Cindy Ferguson, Bruce’s partner, enters the picture. Somehow all of the food must be arranged in a pleasing presentation and it’s up to Cindy to coordinate the food and drinks, a task not for the faint hearted. Cindy continuously produces a buffet as appealing as any you’ll see!
The fact that attendees bring food in addition to buying a ticket for the performance speaks volumes! Most are returning patrons and 90% of the patrons are unfamiliar with the main artists and yet they trust they will have a valuable experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Villagers attend in great numbers and Bruce feels word of mouth and email solicitations are all the advertising that is needed because every show is always sold out! Events like these represent an all-important community gathering which is well perceived within these intimate settings.
All of the net proceeds go to the artists; Bruce and Cindy receive no compensation. They see their role as a conduit for the artists and carry out this work as a labor of love about which they are both very passionate. Their reward is the wonderful friends they have made along the journey and the support they provide to the performing artists.
Some notable artists that have presented at the Blues Café are Brooks Williams, an acoustic guitarist that is considered one of the best 100 in the world, Mark Erelli who has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Pete and Maura Kennedy who toured with Nancy Griffith, Jim Henry who toured with Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Mark Cosgrove the National Flat Picking Champion who tours with David Bromberg as lead guitarist.
Bruce and Cindy manage about 5 shows a year and the Blues Café is currently booked 2 years out until 2024. He can’t say enough about the cooperation the VFW in Southbury provides and what excellent partners they have proven to be by affording a clean hall, being responsive to open dates, and granting set-up time. Bruce and Cindy both feel strongly the Blues Café couldn’t exist without the support of the VFW and the community which should never be taken for granted.
Other than running operations of the Blues Café, Bruce is semi-retired as he still devotes some of his time to the financial management of a local construction company. He also takes mandolin lessons, loves to dance with Cindy, and continues to give lessons to pickleball newbies. He finds life challenging, but good, and loves Heritage Village because there are so many options to pursue activity-wise and appreciates the welcoming social climate.
To be on the mailing list for the Blues Café and learn about upcoming shows, email Bruce at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at: www.ctbluescafe.com