Friday, June 4, 2010

Local woman competes for an Oprah-worthy talk show

Jaimy Blazynski is a local woman with a knack for matchmaking. She’s set up hundred of speed dating events and been the reason for dozens of successful couples, but she believes it’s time to show the world – and when Oprah is involved, you know it’s going to be big. Jaimy is one of thousands of people to enter Oprah’s “Your Own Show” contest, in which the winner will be the lucky new host of their own national talk show. With a hearty smile and plenty of laughter, Jaimy talked about her dating website, three-minute video entry and what drives her to marry off everyone she meets.

(Jaimy Blazynski with her sons, Matthew and Trevor, and husband, Erik, in front of her family's West Hartford home.)

So, I was reading up on your website,, and I was checking out the Oprah site about all the rules and the video, and it looks like it was quite a process to go through. Even getting Damon Scott to tape for you, and the woman who was with you on the video, Gina J. You’ve known them because you do a segment with them on his station?

Yes. I met him at Murphey & Scarletti’s. We had a speed dating event going, and Murphey’s had a battle of the bands events going. There were 4,000 people in there, and I didn’t know this was happening on the night of one of my speed dating events. So at first I was like, “Oh my God, my speed daters aren’t going to find us, this is going to be so hectic!” And then Damon Scott walked right in the room and was asking questions about my event, but I didn’t know it was him. One of my staff were talking to him, and then I was like, “All right, guys, you gotta go outside, it’s too loud,” and I pushed them out. And then he came back in and said “Oh, that was some guy, Damon Scott,” and I said “Oh, that was Damon Scott? I want a radio show!” I walked right up to him and I said, “Damon, I want to be on your radio show.” And he was like, “Okay, you need to commit to every Friday.” And so I’ve been going every Friday for I think six weeks, except this Friday he’s doing a concert on the air, so this is the first Friday I haven’t gone.

Must be nice to have a little bit of a break, though. A nice Friday off to relax, and what a beautiful day to have off, too.

Yeah (laughing), it is beautiful.

So people may already know, but who is Jaimy Blazynski? How did this start? I was kind of getting a feel for you from your site, and it seems like you’ve been through a lot. Give me the Cliffsnotes of “you.”

Well, I was born… no, I’m kidding (laughing). I had a tougher childhood than a lot of people. I was probably the most, what I thought was the most insecure. I hardly had friends, I was so insecure, so uncomfortable with who I was. I look back and I didn’t even know what kind of pizza I liked because I was so shy, I couldn’t figure out what my interests were. I was too insecure, and it carried on through high school. College was a little bit better, but I never really felt good. I never had dreams, never knew what I was going to do. I went to college because that’s what you did, and then after college I got married – well, I met my husband immediately after college. It was my first husband, and it was not a positive relationship, and it ended 10 years later. We were together for five years and we were married for five years, and shortly after we had Matthew, we split up. I can remember the day that I had the epiphany. I was walking through Westfarms Mall with Matthew in his stroller, and I was so angry that I was feeling panicked; I was so angry that I was going through this divorce. I was so angry about a lot of things, and I was looking at other couples and thinking to myself, “They’re all really miserable,” and I was convincing myself that everybody was miserable. And I remember specifically walking by a mirror and saying, “I don’t want to be this person anymore. I am done. I can’t be this angry, depressed woman for the rest of my life.” And I went home that night, and that’s when I started looking into and Internet dating. My husband was my 13th date, and it was at that moment where I just decided that I wanted to be a happy person. I wanted to love life, I wanted to go for things and go for dreams, and meeting him…marriage is amazing the second time around. It’s great, I still get excited when he walks in the door, and it’s pretty happy, it’s pretty wonderful. And then came Trevor, who will be 3 in July. So about six years ago I had this idea that I wanted to help other folks find love and have families and all these great things, so they can experience what I have. That’s when I started “got5minutes,” and my husband, fortunately, is a web guy, so he built my website and manages that whole end of it. I just started recruiting, giving out coupons and talking to every person I possibly could find. And it’s been five years, and for the past six months or so, every event has been sold out to capacity. It’s great.

That’s fantastic. I have to say, I’ll be honest - I was not expecting such an amazing website for a small town kind of thing. I was blown away, so congratulations to your husband for that.

A lot of folks have said that, like they’ll look at the other dating companies, national dating companies that have pilots all over the place, and they say that my website exceeds all of those.

It really is incredible. I was really just expecting that a local woman has a dating website, so it would be a little local website, but it really looks like something professional that you would expect someone to spend a lot of money to do.

That’s a big part of it. That’s part of what helps make this company successful because a website is reputable.

Absolutely, and people unfortunately judge the look of a website, too.


So you guys have that catch-your-breath kind of love now? Your heart kind of skips a beat? How long have you guys been married?

I think so, yeah. It’s been great. Six years? I always mix it up. (laughing) Six years.

That’s great. So there’s hope after divorce?

There really is. I was lucky and happy to meet him, but a big part of it was the change in my attitude because I always say the most unattractive quality a woman can have is insecurity. And I’ll tell women at the speed dating events prior to coming, just fake it. Just pretend you’re confident; walk in the room with your shoulders back and a smile on your face, and eventually you’ll believe it, and the guys are going to believe it and you’re going to be much better.

So it’s that “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality, right? You fake it for long enough and you start believe it yourself.

Yep, that’s it exactly. It helps, it really does. And I lived that in my personal life, so I really believe that.

You said on the site that the reasons you started it were to help others learn from your mistakes and the challenges that you met and because of the excitement you got from making successful matches.


So what then is a mistake or challenge that you find people make or meet the most often when it comes to dating and relationships?

Well first I’ll share personally, my mistakes way back in the days, I was just too available, and I didn’t know how to conceal it. If I had my own interests and my own hobbies and things that I liked to do, then I would have just naturally been less available. That was the big mistake - I was always waiting for the guy to call. As you can see on the video on Oprah’s audition, I asked Gina how long she waits for the guy to confirm a date. My tip is, if something better comes along and if you have other options, you need to go for them and give the message to the guy that other things are important, too. That’s more attractive than the person who’s sitting there waiting for the phone to ring.

I think that’s a mistake we’ve all struggled with because you think “Well, I want to be open to a guy who wants to do something.” You don’t want to miss an opportunity, and you want to make it look like you want to hang out with them and you can make time for them. But then it does seem that for a lot of people it bridges too much time, and you’re too available, as you were saying. You think that’s something that people do a lot?

Yes, I think that to some degree you can fake that, but when you create a life where you have other interests – what happened for me was I had this little boy, and that was sort-of my first outside interest from finding a relationship. All of a sudden, I have this little boy, and that’s all I really wanted to do. So he was my priority, and that helped me to find my first outside interest. Then finding other moms, other moms with kids and that whole social network was part of getting me there.

That’s a great priority to have.

Yeah, it still is.

So how many speed dating events over the last five or six years, since you started this whole business, would you say that you’ve had?

Wow, hundreds, I guess. Lately, the past year, we’ve been doing them every two weeks, and then we slow it down for the summer. We have one big event in June, it’s a wine tasting, dating game party/social event at the Noah Webster House. Then we slow it down, and we’ll probably do one in July and one in August. People are away, and I’m away a lot. Then back in September, we start up every other week. At the beginning, I remember having them every six weeks, and I remember having eight men and eight women and thinking that was a big event. Now I’ve got 14 and 14, and they’re looking in the doors, asking if they can sneak in and if there’s space. We have to turn them away.

That’s got to be a really good feeling, knowing that people are trusting you, and knowing that your reputation is one that people believe in.

It’s been so much fun, and I, on the side, without even charging people, am constantly introducing folks on Facebook. I have a couple from West Hartford, and they kept missing each other. She was at one event, and he got sick and wasn’t there. They were the exact same age, they were both Jewish, they knew what they were looking for. They lived far away from each other, distance was about an hour and that was a problem, but they’ve been together since October, and that was on the side. I just had a feeling, so I said for them both give me their e-mail addresses and they could run with it, and they’ve been together. Then I had a woman in her 60s, and I can’t quite get that age group, but I set her up, just for the fun of it, with my neighbor, who’s a widow in his 70s and lives across the street. They’ve been together, well, March was two years. He got her a diamond ring, and they’re very happy, and they’re perfect for each other.

I think I saw that on your site. You said you had a 60s couple, a 50s couple and many others. So what do you think that your matches appreciate the most about your service?

I have a couple folks that run my events for me, and I always go to every event. I give a dating tip and do a welcome, and I greet everybody, but I have staff that stay and ring the bell and tally the matches at the end of the night. The most common thing that we hear when we’re compared to our competitors is that I do this out of my heart. I love it. It’s not so much that I need to make the money and I need to pay the mortgage and things like that, I absolutely get so excited to meet everybody. It’s hard when there are 30 singles, to remember who everybody is, but I can almost tell when they walk in the door who they are, even if I haven’t met them. And they’re always like, “How did you know?” Well, I have a meet-up group, so a lot of folks, their pictures are on the meet-up group. A lot of folks request to be my friend on Facebook, so I see their pictures that way, or I Google them and I figure out who is who and pretty much remember. I’ve had conversations with almost all of them prior to the event, whether they call me up and say, “I keep making the wrong mistakes,” and “I keep meeting these guys that are unavailable, what am I doing wrong?” or “I’m so nervous.” And when they’re really nervous, I say I’ll wait out front for them and walk them in, whatever they need. That’s why I have staff that can do registrations and explain right when they get there to break the ice. That’s what they do, so I get to talk to everybody.

So you seem really approachable, and that’s something I was wondering, if people who register for your events do have access to speak with you about the event, and you said they do. You don’t want someone who’s just there as a presence, you want someone who’s there as a friend.

I love it, and like you saw when you called, I’m sure I answered right away. It’s always my cell phone, it’s a Blackberry, and so if they send me an e-mail, I can answer immediately. And of course after the events, I get a dozen phone calls. “Help me, I can’t remember which one so-and-so was!” when they met 15 women. I have to remember who everybody was, and then I can say, “Oh, she was the one with the long blond hair!”

So what types of events do you usually hold? I saw that June 17th is when you’re doing the wine party?

Yes, it’s a fundraiser for the Noah Webster House, actually. We do a wine tasting at a wine cellar on Farmington Avenue, and sometimes a beer tasting, too. We do ice breakers and play a really funny dating game, so they’re drinking wine, they’re playing games and eating snacks, and it’s just a big social time. The past few times we did it, we hit capacity at, I think, 68 people, and I had a waiting list. That was really exciting. The dating game is really fun. I love to create games and ice breakers and funny things. So the way this game works, we do it with the guys and the girls, but I’ll give the example of the woman. The woman stands up and she’s blindfolded, and all the guys line up like they’re going to be catching the garter at a wedding, from one wall to the other wall. One is Wall A, one is Wall B. I say I’m going to yell out two words, and they have to walk to the wall with the word that describes them the best, and if they’re somewhere in the middle they have to pick one. Maybe I’ll yell “Gilligan” and “Skipper,” and all the guys that feel more like Gilligan go against Wall A, all the guys that feel like Skipper go to Wall B. Then the bachelorette will kick one and pick one. She’ll say, “Wall A, I kick you. Wall B, I pick you,” and then Wall B will be the only ones left and we continue the game. They keep going until she has one left, and that’s who she wins. They win a date out, we give gift certificates that are donated from the Rockledge Country Club restaurant, Angelo’s. What’s nice about that is we send everyone there afterwards, so they donate the prizes and I send the crowd over there, so they really appreciate the big bar crowd coming on.

It sounds like you really bring a lot of fun into it, and for some people I think dating is so daunting. People really get scared, so it seems like you help break the ice and make it a fun time.

We make it a fun time, and my staff’s primary responsibility is just to make sure that if anyone looks uncomfortable that they talk to them and they mingle. We do another game where everybody gets a card with a word, and the first group of people to make a complete sentence out of the word all win free speed dating passes. They’re all moving around with their cards and trying to make a sentence, so immediately everybody has to move around and talk, and that gets people talking to other people.

How many successful matches have you made?

I have no idea, a lot! I’m sure there are many that are at least still dating. I have one that e-mailed me that they just hit their six-month mark, and I didn’t even realize it had been six months. That’s the nature of the business, you know, you lose your clients because you want to marry them off. The more success we have, the better our reputation is because then they all tell their friends. The first couple I ever matched was years ago, their baby is probably 2 or 3 years old now. They did get married and have a baby from that, so I just hear all the time through e-mails, “You can take me off your list now, John and I have been happy for almost a year and things are going great. I know how to find you if anything changes.” And that’s perfectly fine.

Do you know of any of your other matches getting married like that couple?

I know of two that have gotten married and maybe three that are engaged and have rings and commitments, and I know of dozens that are still dating.

So your idea for the Oprah show – I know that there are a few types of shows that you can do, cooking shows, interior design shows. Are you looking to do a talk show?

I think a traditional talk show. It’s always focused for me on dating and relationships, personal growth and development and just feeling great about yourself. So when I envision it, I envision having guests on the show, whether it’s celebrities, successful people or even just folks who have had major changes in their lives and have grown from their experiences instead of being angry and scorned by that. Anything that inspires others to believe that they don’t have to get stuck in a rut. I’d like to have couples on; I’d love to have debates with a girl panel and a guy panel debating different issues. Anything that can help folks to find happy, successful relationships.

So it would be more so about advice and not like the show “Millionaire Matchmaker” on Bravo, where you see people going on these dates. It would be more about love and relationship device?

Right. Bringing couples on that have started dating, and the girl getting herself comfortable. The girl has to be comfortable to tell the guy what she needs because if she feels like she wants him to be around more on the weekends or something and she doesn’t speak up, his message is that it’s acceptable. And if she speaks up and he says, “Well, then I’m out of here,” then it was never going to work anyway. So, I think that girls just need to be comfortable enough to say, “Hey, this is what I want, this is what’s important to me, and this is what I need in the relationship,” and then they can have that. So even bringing people on the show that are uncomfortable doing that, putting them in front of their guys and saying, “Let them hear this,” and if they back out, you don’t need them!

Like a classier “Jerry Springer” or “Maury” kind of show, but bringing things up as a healthy way of being able to finally confront their issues.

Right. And it would be mixed with humor. I would want my audience to laugh, cry and have Goosebumps in every episode.

That’s a great expectation. Then what are you hoping to do with this sort of venue? What is your driving goal?

My driving goal right now is just to catch up on votes! My biggest mistake was that it took us two weeks to get the video up, and I should have done it the very first day because the day that contest opened, videos came in one by one, and I was watching all of them as they were coming in and so was the whole world. Now mine’s up and there were already 1300 videos up, so you can’t find me! The next step is that the top five voted videos go to Hollywood, and they’re competing for one spot on Oprah’s reality show, which is to win their own talk show. There are other ways, too, like live auditions. But if I could actually have the show, my vision is that it would be here, or even Boston, because there aren’t a lot of shows that hit this area. I could reach so many of the people that I know and I’ve worked with and just bring real, genuine stories on the show to inspire other folks. I think that my story is inspirational, and I could have still been that angry, insecure girl my whole life and that would have been so awful. I wouldn’t have had the chance to experience this life. So whatever it takes to help other folks get to that great point where they can love everyday. People have liked the video and they’ve laughed, and if I can make the show, that’s it – just to make people laugh and happy and take a break from their days.

It’s a cute video, and three minutes may seem like a while if you’re just sitting around with nothing to do, but that’s really a short period of time. You have to do a lot in a short amount of time, but I feel like you covered it well.

I really appreciate that. My goal was just to try to make people laugh and relate to what we were talking about, and I think Gina J. did a cute job with that. She’s there, she understands that.

Did she and Damon Scott say they want to get in on the show with you if you make it to Hollywood?

They haven’t mentioned it, but I certainly would have them! They would both come on the show and it would be great. People joke, “Don’t forget us,” but I don’t forget anybody. I have thousands of speed daters, and I’ll be walking through the mall with my kids and people often know me. Sometimes they were even from four years ago, and I’ll have to try to think of their name but I’ll always recognize them. Sometimes I can even shoot out who their match was, and people are like “God, how do you remember?” But that’s the most exciting part of the night, when the speed dating is over and when my staff get home and enter the matches, then I can log in and look at them. It’s so fun. When you enter the matches, the program automatically generates an e-mail based on the information you registered with and sends it out to everybody that got a match. It’s quick! Everybody gets a match that night; they never have to go to bed without knowing if they made a match.

That’s even more exciting because first you’re looking forward to going on the date, then when you get home you look forward to finding out who was interested in you.

Right, and we’ve had events where we’ve had, like, 40 matches, and everybody walks away with multiple matches. It’s not every time, but it’s amazing the number of matches we walk away with. I’ve matched up a bunch of girlfriends, too, who meet at the speed dating events and then become best friends and come back together.

That’s a really great way of meeting people. It seems like a lot of people are turning to Internet dating because they don’t know ways to get out there anymore. The bar and club scene is just not the proper way to meet a person.

It’s hard because you don’t know if they’re single. So you look across the room and you see a guy who looks great, but then you’ve got top figure out if he’s single. And then you’ve got to figure out if he’s interested. And then you’ve got to figure out a way to break that ice. It’s pretty tricky. But you mentioned Internet dating, and the big difference between Internet dating and speed dating is that with Internet dating you can find out right away what religion they are, how much money they make, what education they have, if they smoke, if they have kids. You can find all your deal-breakers out, whereas with speed dating, you can initially find out the chemistry. I always tell them to throw out their list of deal-breakers, just spend the five minutes and laugh and have fun, and if you make a match, send an e-mail later with 27 deal-breakers and ask them what they think (laughing). Don’t waste the five minutes with a list of questions because you’re just going to ruin it. I did, and I knew in five seconds as they were walking toward me. It was either, “Please let this be him,” or “Oh no, don’t let this be him.” So they both work, but it’s either chemistry first or deal-breakers first. Either way you get there, with either one of those venues.

Seems like you have to throw the list out the window, at least temporarily, and give yourself the opportunity to make a real match. Is there anything you want people to know about you as they’re going to watch your video and vote?

I think just that I absolutely love doing this, and if they laugh and smile when they watch the video, then I’ve done my job. If they vote, even better! But my mission is to get folks smiling. I would say that if I don’t make it with Oprah, I’m still never going to stop setting people up and introducing people. We do workshops in the fall too, so it’ll never stop, but it would be nice to reach that national level.

Click here to vote for Jaimy’s video entry. Votes can be made up to ten times daily.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Article 19, Live at Up or On the Rocks, Friday, April 11th

By 11:30 on Friday night, the crowd at Up or On the Rocks in downtown Hartford has grown restless, anxiously waiting for the evening’s headliners to take the stage downstairs. As the band’s members begin taking their places, excitement grows at the tables on the lounge floor. People who were just ordering drinks at the bar have made their way closer to the stage to get a better view. Those in the crowd who feel like dancing stand in a line on a shrinking “dance floor” that’s actually just a gap between the audience and the stage, while those who prefer to sit commandeer the now-empty stools. Beer bottles and plastic cups in-hands, these people are ready to groove – and so are the guys of Article 19.

Jim Townsend sets the beat on drums; Jeff Kenniston strums his acoustic guitar; Rick Fritsch and Doug Parkinson roll in on lead guitar and bass, respectively; and singer Brett Wilson’s voice falls from the club’s speakers: “I will give my credit where’s it’s due; so I raise my hands, and I grab my hat and I tip it to you. It’s been one hell of a time…” The guys start the night with “Free,” an audience favorite, setting the tone of the night for this “up and coming” Connecticut pop-rock band.

The balance between instruments and vocals is fair, as each part can be heard clearly and levels with the others. In other words, there are no stage hogs, each member working together for every set to create the best-sounding performance they are capable of achieving. Though many of their songs are pretty mellow, “Free” is a tune I can imagine myself listening to after a long shift at work when I want to relax.

All seasoned musicians, it isn’t difficult to tell that each of the guys have something special to bring to the table. Townsend, according to the band’s MySpace, “has been studying, recording and performing throughout CT and NY for years.” A former member of the similarly popular band Tenet, as well as other bands over the years, he was honored with the title of “Best Drummer/Percussionist” by the Hartford Advocate Grand Band Slam in both 2007 and 2008, showing that his talents are recognized by more than just fans and friends. Townsend’s percussion style lays a smooth rhythm for the rest of the music, and his love for banging things certainly doesn’t hurt.

Parkinson provides not only a smooth bass line, but also backup and lead vocals in many of the band’s songs, as well as helping with songwriting. As the third band he’s been a part of, including previously being part of Tenet with Townsend, A19 has gotten the maturity and ingenuity Parkinson has gained through his experience. Though the stage at UP may not have allowed him to be up front for all of their songs, his movements and facial expressions brought more than a few coos and laughs from the audience.

Kenniston, the newest addition to the band, comes in on keyboard, acoustic guitar, alto saxophone and backup vocals, sometimes in tandem, through each song. His input has given the band a fresh perspective on their music with regards to both writing and performing styles, and his familiarity with the music scene, both in other bands and as a music education student at Central Connecticut State University, adds another notch on A19’s figurative belt of musical experience. I’ve come to be familiar with Kenniston’s performances, and his showmanship is not something to miss.

Fritsch’s musical cup overflows similarly to the others’. Also a former member of Tenet, he now brings his talents as lead guitarist and singer to the table for A19, as well as his knowledge of trumpet, harmonica, songwriting and producing. His love for the music is evident in every strum of the guitar, his experience in every key change, and his humor in every smirk.

Wilson, the band’s final member and lead singer, “is the creation of years of vocal training, in addition to even more years of classical and pop piano training,” as described on A19’s MySpace page. Given the title of “Best Male Vocalist” in the 2008 Hartford Advocate Grand Band Slam, Wilson is recognized as a talented young musician and equally entertaining performer. It’s clear that Wilson loves the music scene as much as it loves him, and audience members can watch him sway, two-step and even jump across stages without a blunder.

With such a combination of musicians, it’s no wonder A19 won “Best New Group” and “Best Pop/Rock Group” at the 2008 Hartford Advocate Grand Band Slam. A serious and original band, these guys wouldn’t settle for anything less.

Though they take pride in playing original music, with songs like their newest single, “Opportunity,” and “Bringin’ Down the House” – a hit with its own choreography – they also cover recognizable tunes from a variety of music genres, including “Tempted” by Squeeze, “Every Little Thing She Does” by The Police, and a personal favorite, “Long Train Runnin’” by the Doobie Brothers.

The group gets around 200 hits a day on their MySpace profile – – their manager, Laura Cretella explained. One of their most popular songs, “Save Me,” has a record alone of over 27,000 plays and was also named Song of the Week by Harris Decker – a contributing writer for the online entertainment magazine Buzzine – on his blog “The Truth About Music” last October. “Picture this,” Decker wrote. “The lead singer looks like (and has the abilities of) Maroon 5's Adam Levine; the lead guitarist uses effects such as Peter Frampton’s voice box; the drummer grooves like Carter Beuford of Dave Matthews Band; and the bassist keeps a solid back line, with killer vocals.” An accurate depiction in all respects, save the fact that this was before Kenniston’s arrival.

As you can imagine, this five-man lineup has the talent to attract large audiences and the likeability to keep their fans entertained. It’s clear that there are big things in store down the road, and with two new songs – “Look At Me Now,” and “How It’s Gonna Be” – on their first EP, “Look At Me Now,” currently in the works to be released on April 25, as well as an appearance during the Spring Week Concert at CCSU, they have plenty of ways to keep us coming, as they would say, “Back For More.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ted Turner giving a lecture today at 3 pm in, I believe, Alumni Hall? I will not be attending, but it made Pete Collins and I think of a clip from Robot Chicken in which Turner (the creator of "Captain Planet," my least favorite show as a kid) channels his inner superhero and runs around beating up litterbugs and hollering "CAAPTAAIINN PLLLAAAAAANNET!"

"Oww, you got glass in my eyes!"
"And my foot in your balls!"

<3 [adult swim]

Ted Turner Saves Earth

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Paramore singer Hayley Williams is easily one of the best popular artists right now, as seen by her amazing live performances. Take, for instance, this video of "Decode" from the set of Jimmy Kimmel's late-night.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Preview with Jeff Kenniston of Addison Station

Lights are dim, the stage is empty. Club music booms from the house speakers. The boozers booze; the crooners croon; the bartenders, with their end-of-the-night eyes, stare blankly at a thinning crowd. It’s nearly last call, but the boys from Addison Station are ready for the night after a successful and surprisingly amusing show at Up or On the Rocks in downtown Hartford, CT. They mingle, exchanging momentary glances with the ladies of the crowd, down a bottle each and smile in each other’s direction: good set.

“Addison Station: A Linguistic Acoustic Mix of Altruistic Narcissistic Makers-of-Music. We do some bee-boppin’, some hip-hoppin’ and some jam rockin’. Also, if we pine to, we'll give you something to dine to and play our ballads instead.” A catchy business card, for sure, and it explains this local two-man band to perfection.

With a mix in musical influences like Jason Mraz, The Lonely Island, Counting Crows and Flight of the Concords, you can imagine the type of attitudes these guys must carry. If you guessed that they’re witty, pensive and shameless, you’d be two-thirds correct – less so on the pensive, but not because they’re stupid. These guys actually put a lot of thought into their music, but it comes from a passion they know so well that it goes beyond deliberate thought and straight to a comfortable pre-knowledge.

Jeff Kenniston and Trent Gerbers, the 23-year-old men of Addison Station, provide a smooth instrumental blend for their audiences’ auditory pleasures, Kenniston on keyboard, guitar and back-up vocals and Gerbers on lead vocals, then garnished with harmonica and the occasional beatbox. “We play whatever we feel comes across to most effectively bring about a positive reaction from listeners,” Kenniston explained.

Semi-regulars to pubs and clubs, Addison Station find themselves playing in the same types of venues, frequenting the downtown Hartford scene and New London and Torrington hotspots. “We’re always looking to expand to other markets,” Kenniston said. “We've only been playing together as ‘Addison Station’ since January, so we're just putting our toes in the water and seeing which places work for us.”

Audiences are catching on, no matter where they play, and the tone is set in the first few songs. “We always encourage [audience participation] – although it is more prevalent at smaller venues, where we are more physically connected to the audience and can get right in their faces. Just the other night in Niantic, we had an audience member sing a song to his girlfriend while I played, and also had a girl play [Jason Mraz’s hit] ‘I'm Yours’ on the piano with us,” Kenniston said. “We love it when everyone gets involved.”

Though it’s difficult not to get involved in the music when Kenniston and Gerbers set up songs like “Lost and Found” with a story about one of the member’s most memorable one-night stands, joking that “ We all have them at least once,” and they’re hard to forget. The song describes the awkward search for underwear and other belongings strewn across the floor and around the apartment, and the smirks on the faces of numerous audience members prove that the storytellers are right – most of us know exactly how that search goes down.

So they tell stories and try to relate their music to audience members. What else describes a typical show for Addison Station? “Generally, a lot of things like that. We never make a set list, so we just gauge what we play based on what we think the audience wants to hear – if people are dancing, we'll play something to dance to; if people are chillin’, we'll play something to chill to. We try to take requests, and are consciously making an effort to highlight our original music and avoid the typical bar-band scene,” Kenniston joked while poking fun at the typical Bon Jovi, “Livin’ on a Prayer” cover bands. “Or set is currently very cover-laden,but we're trying to network with prominent local original artists.”

Jokes aside – or rather, not at all – I asked Kenniston and Gerbers about their pre- and post-show traditions. “We have one,” Kenniston cautioned. “It’s called the ‘Nutsack Award.’” Only imagining what this could possibly lead to, donning a puzzled look on my face, Kenniston humored me with an explanation. “We decide who fucked up the most during the show, and they get the ‘Nutsack Award’ until the next show.”

Classy, as is to be expected from Addison Station, but they don’t let their positions as musicians stifle their crude humor. They let those positions help that humor flourish, even barraging each other with insults before shows. “I honestly tell Trent I hate him at least four times a day, and vice versa,” Kenniston laughed. “But he knows I mean it with the utmost respect.” On top of that, nerves are rarely an issue with these jokesters, and you’ll never see Kenniston or Gerbers choke-up in front of a crowd.

Kenniston wanted everyone to know that he has worn the same pair of jeans to every Addison Station show thus far, and that the two are “huge patrons of local hot dog stands.” He also wanted everyone to know that you can catch Addison Station’s next set at The Federal in downtown Hartford on Saturday, April 4th. Be sure to stop in for their soothing ballads, or perhaps their musical antics – set starts at 9 p.m., and though I’m sad to say you won’t hear any Bon Jovi, according to Kenniston, they “go all night.” Delicious.

Q + A with musician Russell Lyman

With a career as a medical assistant at bat and one as a Registered Nurse on deck, West Haven-based musician Russell Lyman has put music on the backburner and is focusing his energy on work and school. Whether he ends up at a hospital or small doctor’s office, Lyman knows where his future leads him and that music will, in one way or another, always be a part of it.

S: So, you’re a musician, quite obviously. What got you into music?
R: Hmm. Well, one of my friends got a guitar for his birthday when he was 15 or so, and I thought it was really cool and wanted to learn to play, too. It seemed like a great hobby.
S: Interesting. So you play purely guitar?
R: Nope, I can play the drums or bass.
S: A man of many talents.
R: If you play guitar, you can play bass because it’s almost the same. But if you play bass, it’s harder to play guitar. When I started guitar, my friend there wanted to start a band and we didn’t have a drummer, so I learned that, too.
S: So you just picked up a pair of drum sticks and said, “All right, let’s do this.”
R: Pretty much. I didn’t really know how to play, and I only had two drums and a high hat at the time. It was a few months ‘til I got a full kit.
S: So which instrument would you say you prefer or play the best?
R: Guitar, but I’m a rhythm guitarist. I can’t do solos that well because I mostly liked singing, too, so I just play the rhythm part.
S: Ah, yes, you sing too. How long have you liked to sing then?
R: Well, I always liked to sing. I wasn’t always the best at it, though. But I tried. I started to take some singing lessons when I was about 20, and those helped a lot with my pitch, melody and sound.
S: What kind of music are you usually inclined to sing or play?
R: It’s like rock-pop, I guess…pop-punk…there are so many things to call it. I just sing, though – no screaming. I’m not really into that heavy sound.
S: (laughing) I see.
R: Yeah, it’s like boy band meets rock. Stuff with a catchy sing-along chorus and fast beat.
S: Since you know how to play so many instruments and are obviously musically inclined, have you put your efforts into a band?
R: No, bands are for losers. I would never join one of those.
S: That’s what I suspected.
R: (laughing) Yes, I always found myself in and out of many bands, with all different styles of music and people.
S: Any that you took particular interest in or were especially proud of?
R: Well, there were a few that I would say I was proud of, each with their own achievements. “A Chase Worthwhile” was my end-of-high-school-days band, when pop-punk was real big, and Blink-182 and New Found Glory were just hitting it big on the scene. We had a big following and played a decent amount of shows in CT, and even got to play at Coney Island. The next band was “Red Chester,” which I did not front and was just a guitarist in. This let me move around more on stage and put my full potential of a stage show to use, spinning my guitar around my body three times in a row, sometimes. We were sponsored by a clothing label called “Reject Clothing Company” and did a small tour for a week with John Hampson of “Nine Days.”
S: I feel like I’ve heard of “Nine Days”… that song “Story of a Girl”?
R: (singing) “This is the story of a girl, who cried a rive that drowned the whole world. But while she looked so sad in photographs, I absolutely love her when she smiles.”
S: Yes, I love that song.
R: After that band was my last and most recent band, “Saturday Matinee.” Being around for about four years with four CDs and a small U.S. tour, it was the biggest one. We even did our own Christmas CD, with covers and a Christmas song we wrote.
S: Well, I’d say that’s pretty successful. Why didn’t the band work out?
R: We wanted to take a new approach, and I was going to step down as front man and we were going to get just a lead singer. In trying out people and finding one, having practice with the new line-up was taking a toll on me. With late-night practices and a full-time job and school at night, there wasn’t much time for sleep. I had to throw in the towel and call it quits to focus on my education and career.
S: That makes sense. When did you start having an interest in medicine?
R: Well, over time. Everyone always said I would be good in the medical field because I enjoy helping others, and I would make a good nurse. They said there was a high demand for male nurses, and they make a lot of money and are always needed.
S: Have you found that that’s true?R: Yes, so far.
S: So you have a job now as a nurse?
R: No, I am currently in school for nursing and finishing up my medical assistant certification. I’m going to Goodwin College tomorrow for a seminar and may be taking classes there after I see how it goes.
S: Gotcha, so you’re still in the process.
R: (laughing) Yes, a long but worth-it-in-the-end process.
S: So, where does the music fit in, if at all?R: Right now, no where, but I can always go back to it. You can never stop playing once you start. I’ve jammed with some kids here and there, but nothing serious yet. I want to finish school.


Since I'm sick, all I can do is creep the web for updates on celebrities and see what strikes me as interesting. Here's what I'm finding.

Jimmy Fallon's dream of reuniting the cast of "Saved By the Bell"?
(By the way, Principle Belding was at CCSU a few months back for a lecture in the Student Center.)

What have the other cast members been up to since 1989?

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, a.k.a. Zack Morris, has a show on USA called "Raising the Bar." He and his goldilocks try to make a difference. I also remember an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit," in which he played a man in the gay porn industry who was attacked.

Mario Lopez of course has America's Best Dance Crew and that animal talent show that no one cares about.

Dustin Diamond - "Screech" - is in porn. Movies and toys. Fantastic.

Lark Voorhies, the chick who played Lisa...well I checked her IMDB profile and only recognized a couple of soap operas. Must be because of that horrible name.

Elizabeth Berkely, who played that slut Jessie, has a recurring role on "CSI: Miami" as - you guessed it - a huge bitch. And don't forget "Showgirls." Classic.

Tiffany Thiesson - or Kelly, every guy's dream girl - has been in spoofs and tv shows since her "Bell" days. My favorite surprising appearance was a Honey DeLune, Will Ferrell's wife in "The Ladies Man."

Zac Efron turned down the opportunity to do a remake of "Footloose," as well he should have, because he said he doesn't want to be typecast as a singre/dancer and wants to take on more serious roles. Too late, "Hairspray"/"High School Musical"/"High School Musical 2"/"High School Musical 3" actor (although his new comedy with Matthew Perry looks good). Besides, you can't do a remake of "Footloose" - it's a Kevin Bacon classic. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Comcast's Picks for the 29 Ugliest Rockers (random and cruel, but quite amusing)

Lemmy Kilminster of Motorhead [looks crazy]

Iggy Pop [still alive? doesn't look alive]

Courtney Love [oh that's not true, just put a little makeup on her "Pikachu," a la Chelsea Handler, and she'll be fine - since that's all you really ever see of her these days...]

Shane McGowan of The Pogues [who is this? he looks like the elf/goat guy from the old Tom Cruise movie, "Legend." I love that movie]

GWAR [this shouldn't even count. First of all, don't they call themselves aliens or monsters or something equally as crazy? And since they're wearing masks and costumes, who's to say they're actually ugly? I bet under those disguises, they're Calvin Klein models.]

Gene Simmons of KISS [I expected him to be Number 1 on this list, but they placed him accordingly. So far these musicians have been quite beastly.]

Lil' Jon [I'm confused, they did say Ugliest Rockers, didn't they?]

Fergie [I agree on this one, but wow for Comcast to drop this kind of bomb on a still currently-successful artist. They obviously don't care about any repercussions she may try to bring]

Amy Winehouse [she could be pretty, if she weren't so ugly]

Rick Ocasek [just looks old]

Kerry King of Slayer [not so much ugly as fitting the typical Metal style]

Lil' Wayne [still does not count]

Dee Snider of Twisted Sister [agreed.]

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones [another one of those 'can't believe he's still alive' rockers]

Tiny Tim [you can't call such a beautiful man ugly! he's having a wonderful time]

Michael Jackson [too easy.]

John Lydon of the Sex Pistols [has crazy eyes]

Boy George [looked at lot better via Karma Chameleon, and that's saying something.]

Janis Joplin [when you sing like that, you don't have to be pretty]

Meatloaf [I think that's just a wacho picture, he was never horrible-looking. He sang "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," how could he be ugly?]

Mick Mars of Motley Crue [I'm going to have nightmares about this guy tonight. He looks like he should work in a morgue or funeral home, or like the dead minister from "Poltergeist."]

Rick James [bitch.]

Eddie Van Halen [what do you expect after years of the rock 'n roll lifestyle?]

Joey Fatone of 'N Sync [again, rockstar? But he's not so bad.]

Sanjaya of American Idol [why is he on this list? he's my dream guy. SANJAYA.]

Clay Aiken [again, too easy.]

Marilyn Manson [this man really has always scared me.]

David Draimon of Disturbed [I actually don't think he's so ugly.]

Alice Cooper [love this guy. very ugly.]

These updates via's Home page.