An Evening with Matt Zeiner & Friends
Tuesday, July 31, Tools Bar and Grill, 136 Main St., New Britain, (860) 505-7226, toolsbarandgrill.com
Perhaps you remember Sheryl Crow's 1993 debut recording, Tuesday Night Music Club. The album reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart, after its giddy hit single, "All I Wanna Do," climbed the charts. The songs were written by a conglomerate of talented songwriters who gathered on Tuesday nights to drink, jam and write songs.
Today, a savvy music fan can dig up a similar club in most any town and corner of the country. One fine example exists in our own neck of the woods, as every Tuesday night, local B3 organ whiz Matt Zeiner hosts a Tuesday Night Music Club in New Britain at Tools Bar and Grill.
"I had been looking for a club to do this in for some time," says Zeiner via a late-night phone call. "I did a gig there with Ray Morant and met the owner, and I was so knocked out by the vibe of the place that I pitched it right then and there to (owner) Dave Marois."
That "vibe" he mentions is that of a laid back, artsy, American bar and grill. Distinctive, original, local artwork hangs from most of the walls. The lighting is ambient, moody, yet illuminated enough that you won't trip over someone else's feet, as there's just the right number of tables and ample space to navigate between them. And Tuesdays have worked out quite well for Zeiner and his rotating lineup.
"Nobody usually gigs on Tuesdays," says Zeiner. "The result has been that not only can I hire just about anyone I want, but lots of other musicians come out and hang regularly. The food is great, the vibe is awesome, the sound system is excellent, and the owner lets me do whatever I want musically."
Since May, Zeiner has invited a veritable who's who of the region's finest musicians to perform, usually in a trio setting, including, among others; Beau Sasser, Bill Carbone, Adrian Tramontano, Ray Morant, Mark Mercier. On July 31, he'll perform with pianist Warren Byrd (who he's never played with but has admired from afar) and Rob (Gottfried) The Drummer, who he's played with since high school. Both played, at one point or another, in Hartford jazz band Street Temperature.
He lines up the talent himself, usually a month in advance, and generally sticks with it, occasionally letting someone sit in for a song here and there. But, he says, this is far from an open mic.
"I want to spend each night exploring the chemical possibilities between three guys who don't usually get to play together," he says. "That is what makes this so special. It's off the cuff, but there is no mayhem, no power-grabs like you might get at an open mic. Each of the guys up there is also hand-picked so that no matter how much or how little common ground there may or may not be between us, the level of musicianship available is so high that no matter what, music is the result."