"Good Sponge Sampler" Highlighting Local Music With Friday Show

Tracks from 18-song compilation album to be played at Bulkeley House in New London

A compilation CD of local soloists and bands will debut in grand style this weekend with a series of live performances highlighting the tracks.

“The Good Sponge Sampler: Volume II” features 18 tracks from southeastern Connecticut bands. The tracks have been featured online since last month, but the weekend event will bring the bands to the stage and offer the album—as well as individual artists’ albums and merchandise—for sale.

Ben Parent said he started the Good Sponge Records label in 2011 as a way of promoting a release by his band, The Rivergods. He began working with other musicians soon after, helping Sue Menhart to put out an album in June of that year. The first compilation record was released last year, along with a tribute album featuring several local musicians covering songs by The Reducers.

 “I guess the idea for me was to try to help out people who were friends of mine that I believed in their music,” said Parent.

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Parent said samplers have a longer history in the New London music scene. The goal of the album is to recognize local groups while also bringing together songs with similar sounds. The featured musicians generally fall into the categories of Americana, blues, roots, and rock.

Carl Franklin, who contributed the song "Boogie Groove" to the album, was also responsible for the album's sound mastering. This involved taking 18 tracks that had been recorded in different venues and bringing them to the same level of sound quality through his own studio, PWOP Studios.

“We took all these disparate sounds and tracks and made it sound like a seamless presentation,” he said.

Nancy Parent, Ben’s wife and another member of The Rivergods, said the samplers typically feature songs that were recently released on an album or that have not yet debuted. She said most of the featured artists have performed together at concerts.

“It’s great exposure for everybody because it crosses a whole lot of audiences, especially this year’s,” she said. “I think it’s more diverse in terms of style.” 

Sue Menhart’s “Sunrise City Café” is the first track, and Ben describes it as giving the feeling “like you’re at a New Orleans pub at 10 in the morning and you’re going to party all day.” Menhart said she thought the compilation was a way of showing that New London’s small size is not a limiting factor in offering avenues for musicians to succeed.

“I like the concept that, or the theory, or the dream that every record company that has ever existed started with one person,” said Menhart.

Bobby Crash, of the band Burnouts From Outer Space, said there is a greater focus on the southeastern Connecticut music scene in the spring because artists are trying to release and promote songs in time for New London’s Whalie Awards. Franklin said he belatedly realized that Burnouts From Outer Space did not have a track on the sampler and made sure to get in touch with Crash to include one.

“I was just thrilled that somebody asked me and was thinking about me to do something like that,” said Crash.

The sample tracks were released on Feb. 1 on the website Bandcamp, which is a full quality service for artists looking to stream and sell music. The label’s address there is goodsponge.bandcamp.com.

Friday’s show will begin with an acoustic set at 7 p.m. on the first floor of the Bulkeley House. Rock performances will follow at 9 p.m. on the second floor. There is no cover for the show

“We’re doing that so people will spend money on merchandise and buy the artists’ stuff,” said Ben.

Among the merchandise available for sale: the sampler CDs, which are going for $15 each.

Performers will play at the following times:

  • Dogbite, 7 p.m.
  • Dirt Road Radio, 7:20 p.m.
  • Nancy Parent, 7:35 p.m.
  • Vincent Tuckwood, 7:50 p.m.
  • Josi Davis, 8:05 p.m.
  • The Rivergods, 8:25 p.m.
  • Carl Franklin, 8:40 p.m.
  • Black Marmot, 9 p.m.
  • Chris MacKay & The Toneshifters, 9:25 p.m.
  • Amalgamated Muck 'Electric,' 9:50 p.m.
  • Ken Atkins & Honkytonk Kind, 10:15 p.m.
  • Sue Menhart Band, 10:40 p.m.
  • Matt Gouette, 11:05 p.m.
  • Burnouts from Outer Space, 11:30 p.m.


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