The Homegrown Music Cafe is the type of venue musicians dream of: a big, open room with great sound and an attentive audience that comes to actually hear music. Run out of St. Gerard Majella Church in Port Jefferson Station, the Homegrown Cafe is the brainchild of Ralph Antignano, who believes in supporting both local music and his fellow human beings. The Cafe does both, putting on top-notch shows once a month and donating the proceeds to the church outreach program, which feeds and clothes Long Island families that are in need.
“The beauty of the Homegrown Cafe is twofold,” Ralph explained to me at the show I recently attended. “We’re bringing artists into the spotlight, getting them exposure, and raising money for hungry Long Islanders at the same time.”
That evening’s performance featured opening sets by Rich Broillet, Becca Hasselbrook, and Stella Betty Davie. Rich Broillet has been referred to as “what John Lennon would sound like if he did country music”–a tall order, but after hearing his set I was hard-pressed to disagree. Becca Hasselbrook (http://www.beccahasselbrook.com) is a singer/songwriter whose music flows seamlessly from folk to jazz to light pop. She has the same knack that Catie Curtis has for getting at the simple heart of the matter. Stella Betty Davie is a Scottish transplant with a charming accent and charming stories to go along with her songs. If you catch her locally, ask to hear “First Things First,” a realistic and bittersweet take on a poppy love song.
The featured act was Butchers Blind, a Floral Park alt-country group that pretty much blew me away. Check these guys out at http://www.myspace.com/butchersblindmusic for some great songs and some amazing guitar playing. Butchers Blind has a mournful pop songwriting style, slightly reminiscent of the Counting Crows, but blended with a folk-country sensibility to form a sound that is all their own.
The next concert at the Homegrown Cafe is on March 12th. It will include opening performances by singer-songwriter Christie Baker (http://www.christiebaker.net/), and Stony Brook’s a capella group The Stony Brook Vocalists (http://www.stonybrookvocalists.com/). The feature act is Downward Dawgz (http://www.youtube.com/DownwardDawgz), a local band that mixes folk, blues, and rock influences into their original tunes. It’s a show you won’t want to miss.
For directions and more information on the Homegrown Music Cafe, check out http://www.homegrownmusiccafe.com/.