“We had started to play in Connecticut a lot before I moved here,” said Eben Pariser, who handles vocals, electric guitar, and harmonica in the band and lives in East Rock with his wife — fellow musician Molly Venter — and son, born just this past September. Roosevelt Dime, made up of Pariser, Andrew Green on five string banjo and backup vocals. Tony Montalbano on drums and backup vocals, and Craig Akin on upright bass, played Arts and Ideas, CT Folk’s concert series, and the Outer Space. It also appeared at other venues around the state, and is talking about doing something at the Acoustic in Bridgeport.
“Never done Gathering of the Vibes,” Pariser said. “Why have we never done Gathering of the Vibes?”
Originally from Maine, Pariser moved to New Haven over two years ago. Before that, he lived in Brooklyn for nine years. He worked in a neuroscience lab in Rockefeller University studying vocal learning in songbirds, and is a co-author of a paper that appeared in Nature Neuroscience in June. He also built a strong community of musicians in New York, playing with “some of the best horn players in the city,” Pariser said.
But “I had literally exhausted that experience,” Pariser added. “Definitely exhausted with paying more than $1,000 a month for my half of the rent.”
Morever, the band was no longer a local band, as it was traveling ever farther from New York City for gigs. Its tour dates in the near future will take the group from New York to Maine to Vermont and back to Connecticut.
His first view of New Haven, like many, was from I-95. His eye was drawn to the row of taco trucks at Long Wharf.
“What is this place?” he recalled thinking.
Molly Venter, his wife, had a much clearer idea what New Haven was. She had grown up in East Rock, the daughter of Josiah Venter, who — in addition to being a bank executive — had been director of the New Haven Development Corporation, chairman of the Technology Investment Fund of New Haven, director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and a member of the Finance Committee of Yale New Haven Hospital. Josiah passed away in 2011. Molly and Pariser moved into the house where she was raised.
It took Pariser “less than a year” to find his way into New Haven’s music scene, though “I still have a lot of work to do—I’m connecting to a lot of people all the time,” he said.
More generally, moving from Brooklyn to New Haven has “dramatically improved my work and life,” Pariser said. It allowed him to stop working at Rockefeller University and devote all his energy to music.
“I never was able to make my full living from just music in New York and I can here,” Pariser said.
What’s the day-to-day routine like when Pariser isn’t touring? “Wash diapers. Practice for a few hours. And then tend to managerial and business issues for the afternoon. And then I take the baby so my wife can rehearse. Sometimes I manage a game of pickup soccer in Rice Field,” which he lists as one of his favorite places in the city. The soccer games “bring together people from Africa and South America to play with graduate students. Rice Field connects the city in a wonderful way there—between Fair Haven and East Rock.”
“The ease and opportunity is sort of more how I imagined bohemian New York to be,” Pariser said.
Pariser and Venter will be touring together as Goodnight Moonshine, a newer musical project for both of them, in between Roosevelt Dime tours. For the show this Friday at Cafe Nine, those who buy tickets in advance will get all their recorded music for free, a gift from the band to their singer’s adopted home.
“My gratitude every day is beyond my wild imagination of just how nice life could be,” Pariser said.