Hartford’s Amphibious Man, a jammy, grungy, surf rock band with a vaguely Spanish sound, opened its set at Cafe Nine last Thursday with their tidal wave of a single, “Laureline.” (The video stands as a DIY triumph.) As the song wound down, singer and guitarist Jason Principi turned around and slowly pressed his heel onto one of the many pedals that filled his effects briefcase. It let the audience catch a glimpse of Principi’s guitar strap, thoroughly duct-taped to his Stratocaster.
Opener Kyla P. stood on the stage of Cafe Nine tuning her guitar as Natalie Tuttle (pictured) moved behind her with a djembe and cajon, ready to back her up.
“The first time I ever met Natalie was the first time I ever sang in public,” Kyla P. said. She related how she and Tuttle hit it off fast. Tuttle liked the look of her guitar and asked Kyla P. if she could try it out. Kyla P. let her. When Tuttle started to play, Kyla P. recalled what she thought: Holy shit, you’re good.
Cristina Harris started the Elvis Presley crooner “Today, Tomorrow, and Forever” without warning. She just sat at the keyboard and began working through the changes. It was more than enough. All the conversation in the room quieted. The Buddy Holly that the bar was playing over the sound system faded.
By the time she started singing, there was no other sound in the room but the music. She turned the lush arrangement from the movie Viva Las Vegas into a stark, fragile thing that held the audience rapt, even reverential, until the very end.
“We’ve been on tour for three weeks — coming from Brazil and Argentina to here — from summer to winter,” said pianist Satoko Fujii, closing the first set by her Tobira quartet at Firehouse 12. “I even got a little influence in the music,” she added, referring to a quote from Antônio Carlos Jobim’s classic “The Girl From Ipanema” that made its way into a thunderous piano and drum duet.
Neville Wisdom had done it hundreds of times, the steps running on loop through his head. A clean cut through skin and muscle would expose the skull. Four tiny burr holes would come next, helping to create a white window of bone.
Amid high-pitched giggles and whispers, John Ginnetti reached for “The Devil Himself,” a splash of green chartreuse lapping at the edges of the glass. He smiled, exchanging glances with Paul Tortora and Michael Knipp, who held out the long-necked bottle like an offering. It caught the low light, sending a row of shimmers down the table.