Timidly ordering my drink as usual, I nervously sidled up to Stella Blues’ bar and was unexpectedly greeted by its resident music enthusiast, Spo-dough. This bar is a chapel whose patron saints are Jerry Garcia, Frank Zappa and Jeff Beck – and the only place in New Haven you’ll find their records inset under the glass of the bar. My PBR was two bucks – three if I had added a hot pocket.
“Sup man?” he nodded.
Spo has seen all of guitarist Tim Palmieri’s shows at Stella Blues, breaking down the roster of Palmieri’s new outfit, Kung Fu, like a seasoned sommelier at the Waldorf-Astoria. The rest of the clients also appreciate the vintage.
Spo shed some light on Kung Fu: “Todd Stoops, from RAQ, unreal keyboardist, my favorite, him and Tim have really good chemistry together, they connect really hard on stage.”
“Kris Jensen … not really sure where he is from, but everybody in this band has recorded with … a lot of people.”
“The bass player … I believe his name is … Dave? Livoloos, Livolsi?”
“Adrian Tomantono, plays the drums. UNREAL drummer – multi instrumentalist, sick, but he is the most unreal on the drums.”
Spo cannot overstate the effect the music has had on Stella’s mainstays.
“This local scene keeps people away from all … a lot of drugs,” Spo-do explained, “music is my drug now, except for pot.”
The sound engineer agreed with Spo. A 20-year veteran of the business, M. Christopher Cherry moved to New Haven eight years ago and hasn’t left. He represents the bar’s effect on New Haven in microcosm.
“This has added so much to the local scene, I used to work at Toad’s before Stella Blues,” Cherry said, giving a knowing look.
Palmieri is an accomplished jam guitarist, about whom I knew nothing. He patiently sat with me while I pretended to be in on his scene. When I asked him to describe his new project, because I couldn’t think of anything else to ask, he called my bluff.
“The band is in its infancy, but we’re doing fuckin’ great,” he explained simply. “It’s an honor for me to play with these guys.”
The enlightened jammers all congregate here — a city filled with Elevating, Sinergizing, Alchemizing, Playwrighting, Hula Hanking grime scenes — only to collect the remnants of an age gone by, memorialized through the Stella PA.