Monday, August 4, 2014

J-Cherry & The Strawberries at The 3rd Annual Middletown Music Festival! Sunday, August 10, from 12-8PM at Middlesex Community College Cedar Grove, 100 Training Hill Rd, Middletown, CT.

"Tree", from the album "In The Belly Of The Beast" by J-Cherry & The Strawberries.

What folks are saying about, "In The Belly Of The Beast”,

“Fantastic vibe and wicked good vocals here..really diggin that
cacophony of guitars, horns and groove in "on and poppin"..such a
mesmeric, rowdy joint...tasty playlist!!” Mike White Presents

“Wonderful sound! Enjoyed your terrific vocals and instrumental
skill! You have a great unique sound! I wish you much success!” --Slam Horse

“Fantastically creative and original sound. Cheers!” Agony In
The Garden

Live and local… this is GREAT music!! 

Tim Sparks, Steve Far, J-Cherry, Kevin Day and Rich Hatfield of J-Cherry and the Strawberries will release their first album, “In the Belly of the Beast” Saturday at The Buttonwood Tree on 605 Main Street in Middletown.Catherine Avalone - The Middletown Press

MIDDLETOWN >> What has been five years in the making will be debuted this weekend as blues and roots rock group J-Cherry and The Strawberries will release its locally recorded album, “In the Belly of the Beast,” at The Buttonwood Tree performing center.
The first album from the Portland-based band is part poetry, blues and roots rock with songs that take a critical look at life, politics and today’s world. “Lies,” “Dirty Water,” the “Dog’s On Prozac” and “The Illuminati,” are just a few titles on this 13-track disc recorded before a live audience with Michael Arafeh of Middletown’s Coffeehouse Recording Studio.
A local artist with a passion for music, lead singer Jennifer Shafer Wood, otherwise known as J-Cherry, started the project five years ago while looking for a place to produce an open mic. J-Cherry was inspired by a similar coffeehouse-style music event in Hartford.
“I wanted to recreate a ‘Love Jones’ atmosphere closer to home,” Shafer Wood recalls. “The open mics I attended locally were either poetry or music; there was nothing with a combination.”
So she approached Anne-Marie Cannata, the Buttonwood Tree’s artistic director, about producing an open mic and soon Anything Goes Open Mic Mondays were born. These weekly drop-in sessions continue today with a crew of hosts to keep it going weekly.
Shafer Wood and Tim Sparks host the event on the first Monday of the month. They also produce the weekly radio talk show, “Voice of the City,” airing on WESU 88.1-FM in Middletown, Tuesdays from 8 to 9 p.m., and streaming on Cygnus Radio on Wednesdays from 7 to 8 p.m.
It was at open mic that Shafer Wood met her husband and band mate Tim Sparks, as well as band mates, Sympetalous, poet and percussionist; and singer/songwriter on bass and guitar Steve Far.
Sparks, singer/songwriter on rhythm guitar, vocals and harmonica, brought in lead guitarist Rich Hatfield and the group started practicing once a week and playing gigs.
“We just enjoyed making music together,” Shafer Wood recalls “We decided it was time to record an album. Some of the songs were written or inspired by our experience at the Buttonwood Tree. ‘On and PopPin’ was inspired by being in downtown Middletown at The Buttonwood watching all the people stroll in or by on a summer evening.”
“The Rhythm Is In The Kiss” is a song inspired by an individual band members met at The Buttonwood Tree had hit a rough patch in life, “clinging to the bottle, unaware of another way to handle life,” Shafer Wood explained. “This record is a colorful collaboration of poetry and music.”
This singer/songwriter, visual artist and radio host says she’s thankful for places like the Buttonwood Tree that open their doors to aspiring artists and provide a platform for the budding artist to share.
“In all honesty this album would not have been possible without The Buttonwood Tree,” Shafer Wood says. “It gives me great joy to officially release our record on the stage where it all started!”
The album release concert takes place Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. at The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main St. For information,, email or cal 860-347-4957. Tickets are $10.

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