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Music and More at The Buttonwood Tree in December 2023

Submitted by The Buttonwood Tree

(November 27, 2023) — The following events and programs will take place at The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street in Middletown, during December 2023. For information on shows, call 860-347-4957.

Friday, December 1, 2023: Story City Troupe, hosted by Mike Isko, and featuring a lineup of local storytellers. Performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10. Michael Isko tells stories about his foibles and family. Recently retired from a 34-year career as Public Defender, Isko accepted Sue Huggan’s request to keep the Story City Troupe together, and bring shows to the Buttonwood. He has told at a number of SpeakUp Storytelling events at Saul Fussiner Songs and Stories and at the Next Door, New Haven, Jezrie Marcano’s Speak Easy at The Ordinary in New Haven, and at the New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas. Admission link:

Saturday, December 2, 2023: Puerto Rican Traditional Music Group Bomba de Aqui. Show starts at 8:00 p.m. General admission is $20, student admission is $20. Bomba de Aquí combines traditional Puerto Rican bomba drumming and dancing with jazz. It’s not salsa: think instead of an African drum ensemble with jazz horns. Drawing from the huge Puerto Rican community in northwestern Massachusetts and Connecticut, and from the top area jazz musicians, the group is the brainchild of dancer Brendalíz Cepeda, drummer Saul Peñalosa and composer Julian Gerstin. The PR contingent is three dancers and four drummers, who also sing; the jazz element is trumpet, sax, trombone, piano, and bass. The group is highly interactive and engaging. We teach the audience songs; we invite them to the stage to join the dance. We bring together two cultures, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Admission link:

Friday, December 8, 2023: Synergismus Fusion. Concert begins at 8:00 p.m. General admission is $15. Middlesex Community College and Wesleyan University students pay $10 on all shows.

Synergismus Duo is the premier violin-cello duo of southern Connecticut. Millie and Randy Calistri-Yeh of Killingworth have been playing together for more than thirty years in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.Millie Calistri-Yeh is first violinist in the Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra, the Connecticut Valley Symphony Orchestra, and the New London Community Orchestra.  She was previously first violinist in the Livingston, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Penfield Symphony Orchestra in New York, as well as assistant concertmaster of the Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra of New York.

Randy Calistri-Yeh is acting principal cellist of the Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra, and also plays with the Connecticut Valley Symphony Orchestra and the New London Community Orchestra.  He was previously principal cellist of the Livingston, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Penfield Symphony Orchestra in New York and the Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra in New York. He is the founder of Custom Chamber Music, which creates custom arrangements of classical music.

Admission Link:

Saturday, December 9, 2023: Guitar and Bass Blues Duo FrankenPhil. Show begins at 8:00 p.m. Admission is $15.

Having played the local pubs for some time, Phil found himself doing solo work and possessing a genuine desire to play as often as possible. He had been playing with a talented bass player/vocalist who had decided to reduce his playing time, while Phil was feeling the need to perform more often. As luck would have it, Frank was looking for a partner. They had met and talked before when they had crossed paths at gigs, and later by phone.

As FrankenPhil progressed, they became more comfortable with each other’s playing, and one day Frank started dropping harmonies on top of Phil’s vocals. They have since expanded the songs to include soloing, and have allowed things to grow in a natural way. Frank and Phil have also forged a true friendship and they are meeting wonderful people along the way.

Admission Link:

Friday, December 22, 2023 Soul Songstress Waberi Jordan and her Band. (Waberi on guitar and vocals, Ron Acosta on saxophone, Mark Macksound on drums, Janet Denise on upright bass, and Derrik Bosse on electric bass). Show begins at 8:00 p.m. General admission is $15, student admission is $10. Admission link:

Waberi Jordan is a vocalist and songwriter whose signature is rooted in the Leimert Park Jazz Community of Los Angeles. Raised on a steady diet of straight-ahead jazz at a time when R&B dominated the airwaves, Waberi’s sound bridges two pivotal eras of artistic expression.In 2009 Waberi released her debut album, “The Trajectory of Starah.” The accompanying video, “Sunflowers in my Garden,” premiered the same year, to critical acclaim. The song has become beloved worldwide. Her second video release, “Put it Right There” was released in 2014, and as an added bonus, was co-directed and shot by Tim Russ, noted for his role as Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager. Waberi has been embraced by the East Coast jazz and live music community, with residencies at The Buttonwood tree and at The Middletown Music Festival.

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