After a most successful kick off to our New England Songwriter Showcase Series in Vermont, this caravan of fools (Thanks John!) made its way down to Connecticut to see if lightning could strike twice.
Manchester, Connecticut is a suburban town just outside of Hartford. It also happens to be a hot spot for musical activity in the area. The Grady Tavern is a humble bar, happily haunted by the memories of countless nights of drinking, dancing, and revelry that come with serving food and drink for over one hundred years. There are other places in town to see live music, but on February 11th, Grady Tavern was the place to be.
“The drinks were flowing, the people were singing…”
This series has been successful thus far due to the collaborative nature of its arrangement. The artists, venues, and attendees all understand that this is a space to showcase songwriting. This is an important distinction that sets our series apart from any ol’ acoustic show. Together we are creating space for artists to be authentic. A space where the artist as well as the listener benefits from the engagement in unbridled human creativity. For the crowd that eagerly assembled, we had a bill of hand selected talent from near and far.
The night began with a set from Connecticut’s own Connor Yakaitis. Those savvy to the CT music scene will know him from the band, Cortlandia. Connor used his soulful, laid back vibes to charm the audience, and he set a positive tone for the evening that permeated through each person and every set. Connor exudes authenticity. Be sure to keep a close eye on this guy and his musical endeavors, both solo and with Cortlandia.
Next was our friend and our label’s own K-Dogg, aka Kevin Wamsley. Kevin is a member of Riley Lücifer as well as the leader of his own folk project, K-Dogg & The Mutts. While RL sees him serving on the drum-kit, when he’s on the guitar his style is a blend of Anarcho-Folk and Americana. We were honored to be able to highlight K-Dogg’s songwriting prowess through this series. In fact, it’s a function of this series to get the talented artists of New England out and around the different areas of our region. The CT crowd took to Kevin like kin and he had them all howlin’ at the moon!
Next was Connecticut based artist, Kyle Flynn. The term artist gets thrown around a lot, but Kyle is truly worthy of that description. He has been a long time component of the New Haven scene and his Manchester performance demonstrated why. From the way he introduces a song, to the chord shapes he uses on his guitar, Kyle Flynn is unique and unapologetically authentic. You could get in the neighborhood of describing his sound by calling it indie or alternative, but that wouldn’t do it justice. Let’s just call him the real deal.
At this time we heard songs from label owner Derek O’Kanos. Derek brought some new tunes, some acoustic adaptations of O’K and the Night Crew material, and even a nod to Manchester’s own Johnny Mainstream. The crowd couldn’t resist his blues fueled crooning, and the stage was set for a closer of epic proportions.
Closing out this enchanted evening was Manchester’s own Michael James Anderson. Anderson, who released an EP on our label in 2021, has been a long-time favorite of the Grady Tavern, Manchester area, and Connecticut scene in general. MJA featured tunes from throughout his extensive catalog, including songs from his newest effort, Scarecrow, I think I’ll Miss You Most of All. The drinks were flowing, the people were singing, and the night came to a joyous conclusion.
This was a night of communal story-telling, of getting together to share memories, experiences, and ideas. Though, above all else, it was fun! The kind of fun a person needs, not just now and again, but as often as possible. This showcase has proven to be a light source for those involved. Come share that experience with your friends here at Oak Honest Records!
Our monthly traveling showcase has only just begun! Next month a new line-up of talented performers heads down to the Castle Island Brewing Company in Norwood, Massachusetts. Each month, you’ll find us in a different New England state, with a different cast of characters. Here’s a look ahead at the schedule:
Mar 26 – Castle Island Beer Co. – Norwood, MA
Apr 23 – Definitive Brewing – Portland, ME
May 21 – Liquid Therapy – Nashua, NH
Jun ?? – TBA – TBA, RI
We’ll be seeing you on the road! Come see what all the fuss is about!