Nightcrawler: Fruits of His Labor

Prince Spaghetti may have a lock on the country’s proverbial work week “hump day.” But West Whately’s Paul Newlin is once again banking on area residents to favor his watermelons and outdoor music offerings over hot pasta for at least a few Wednesdays this summer.

“I’ve been doing this 14 years,” Newlin notes of his Watermelon Wednesdays ( concert series at the West Whately Chapel, where the price of admission includes both a seat at one of his intimate outdoor concerts and a juicy slice of the summertime favorite. “It seems more and more musicians want to be in the series because word has gotten around that it’s a great Wednesday gig at a wonderful venue with a very attentive and appreciative audience.”

Since the series’ inception, Newlin has striven to make his unique mix of audio and edibles equal parts user- and artist-friendly. Having succeeded—and gained the aforementioned word of mouth—he believes the crop of talent he has amassed for his 2013 lineup is truly a reflection of the fruits of his labor.

“We have a great mix that includes some of my favorites from previous seasons, like Hot Club of Cowtown (July 24), Della Mae (July 10) and Sweetback Sisters (Sept. 25), with first-timers like Tim O’Brien (July 17) and Bruce Molsky (Aug. 28),” he explains. “I think both of those last two are actually national treasures in their respective genres. Frankly, Tim in particular is a musical hero of mine, and just having him at the Chapel is a major coup.”

Watermelon Wednesdays kicked off June 12 with the Adaskin String Trio and returns on Wednesday, July 3 with traditional string band Red June, which is fresh off a Merlefest songwriting competition victory for their tune “Cloud of Dust.” All shows start at 7:30 p.m.

In other news… as promised in the last installment, your friendly neighborhood crawler caught up with Aaron Lewis just prior to the hometown heroes benefit performance for his It Takes A Community Foundation. ITACF was originally set up by Lewis with his wife, Vanessa, to save their children’s school in the rural hilltown of Worthington, Mass. but now has much bigger eyes. Here’s some of what went down.

Crawler: The local benefit show will raise funds and awareness for It Takes A Community, and the goal of your foundation is to help revive rural communities across New England now. But it started with your hometown school. How is that going?

Aaron Lewis: We’re finishing up our third successful year and still trying to figure out that magical combination of corporate support and funding, as there is no state or government support for that school. I have a lease on the building, and that’s how it will be if another town is able to replicate it. But the ultimate goal is to make it self-sustaining so it won’t even need the Foundation, and then we’ll have a successful model to bring to other towns in similar situations.

Crawler: So how does this model work? Do the students pay tuition?

AL: Dude, the school is amazing. We have taken all the best aspects from all of the curriculum out there…from the charter schools, Montessori schools.. and we melded that into our own, where the kids are evaluated on an individual basis and allowed to go as slow or fast as they need to. God, I wish school had been like this for me, quite honestly. These kids are stimulated all day to the point where they are bummed out on Friday or the end of the year and excited for Monday. It’s just amazing. (Stay tuned next week, when Lewis elucidates his political views and the official status of Staind. Visit for more on ITACF.)


Last but not least, Foxwoods’ Scorpion Bar resumes its battle of the bands series Sunday, June 30. Entering the fray this week are Rhode Island’s Metcalf and Paryah, Western Mass/Northern Conn.’s Cavalcade and Fall River’s Evident. Up for grabs are gobs of cash, cool swag and a shot at a major radio play, among other things.•

Send correspondence to Nightcrawler, P.O. Box 427, Somers, CT 06071; fax to (860) 394-4262 or email

Author: Gary Carra

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