From West Hartford to Widespread Acclaim, Local Talent Resonates

On back-to-back nights, an indie/roots rock band and a singer/songwriter, each gaining increasing notoriety, performed just a stone’s throw from the West Hartford – Hartford town line.

Bronze Radio Return, a six member band that was formed when the musicians were students at the University of Hartford only a handful of years ago, returned to their roots in West Hartford just after completing a 15-city tour that brought them through the West and Southwest, including dates in California, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.  A special performance at their alma mater, as part of the university’s homecoming weekend, was albronze radio returnso a precursor to upcoming performances in Portland, Burlington and Boston.

Just a day earlier, singer/songwriter Kate Callahan, fresh from being selected as Best Singer/Songwriter at the Connecticut Music Awards, performed with her band Echo Joy.  The evening performance at the Hartford Seminary was highlighted by songs from her recently released third album, Two Doors, which evokes folk sound with textures of indie, country, and soul.

Callahan took top honors at the 2nd annual Connecticut Music Awards that were held last month at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford.  Shekate callahanhas been named the Hartford Advocate’s “Best Solo Performer” three times.  Next on her performing schedule is a trip to New York City, followed by local performance dates in Connecticut early next month.

Bronze Radio Return has clearly been on the ascendency, as FOX Sports recently selected their recent single “Further On” for use in the network’s NFL, college football and NASCAR game-day coverage.   During the summer, the band’s “Shake, Shake, Shake” surpassed 500,000 views on YouTube, and their latest album, Up, On & Over reached the Billboard magazine “Heatseekers Albums” list at number 17.

They have performed at music festivals nationwide, and their music has also proven extremely popular for television commercials and programs, among them a worldwide Nissan Leaf commercial and a national Behr Paint/Home Depot ad. In addition, HBO, ESPN, NBC, MTV, the CW, American Idol, ABC Family, USA, and more licensed their music for shows, promos and bumpers.

The band’s website noted that “their story starts in Hartford, where members orbited each other at The Hartt School, one of the country’s top music conservatories. After finding each other and solidifying their line-up in 2008, they began writing music and found that their surroundings played a hbronze radio  mapuge part in their creative energies.”   The band includes lead singer and guitarist Chris Henderson, drummer Rob Griffith, lead guitarist Patrick Fetkowitz, keys player Matthew Warner, bassist Bob Tannen, and harmonica/banjoist extraordinaire Craig Struble.

 Kate Callahan, acoustic guitarist as well as singer/songwriter, has opened shows for folk legends Judy Collins and Noel Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul & Mary), and troubadours Aztec-Two Step, Mustard’s Retreat, tPrinthe late Bill Morrissey, and Rachael Sage. Callahan says a defining element of her music is innocence and she’s unapologetically optimistic in concert.  From West Hartford, and now Hartford, she has been recognized by the Hartford Courant as a "Woman of Character," and has a longstanding relationship with the West Hartford Public Schools as an  Artist in Residence.

In 2011, Javier Colon, also of West Hartford, trying for a second shot at a recording career that had stalled, won the first season of "The Voice," the NBC singing competition.   Colon is a graduate of the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music, and returned to his alma mater to perform later that year.  Since winning “The Voice,” Colon has released an album, “Come Through For You,” and has performed at concerts and charitable events around the nation, including locally at the Travelers Championship last year.