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Good Sponge releases new sampler CD

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Dinner Set - 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.), and Carl Franklin (8:40 p.m.)

Dessert Set - Black Marmot (9 p.m.), Chris MacKay & The Toneshifters (9:25 p.m.), Amalgamated Muck (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.), and Burnouts From Outer Space (11:30 p.m.)

This all takes place at the Bulkeley House on Bank Street in New London. There is no cover.

Sonic samplerGood Sponge Records celebrates CD release

Phil Walden and Jerry Wexler had to start somewhere, too. It's not as though Capricorn Records and Columbia Records just opened for business one bright morning and - presto! - the Allman Brothers Band and Aretha Franklin immediately sold millions of records.

Ben Parent, the local musician/entrepreneur, will tell you his Good Sponge Records is, first, a labor of love and, second - well, who knows where it might end up? But, without Parent's abiding passion for roots music, it's hard not to envision enduring success.

So far, so good. On Friday, on two stages in New London's Bulkeley House, 14 of the album's 18 acts will perform in a release party celebration of their inclusion on "The Good Sponge Sampler Volume II." As the title suggests, it's the sophomore collection of songs by regional artists, all of whom have stylistic or tangential connections to alt-country or roots music. As compiled by Parent and co-produced by Parent and Carl Franklin, a local musician and owner of New London's PWOP Studios, the new sampler continues to establish a sound and vision.

"With the first Good Sponge sampler, my idea was to give exposure to like-minded artists," says Parent, best-known in the area as the leader/songwriter of the popular act The Rivergods. "My stuff's a certain genre - roots and Americana - and I thought there was validity in the idea of a CD you could pop in and it would be like listening to an incredible radio station. All the songs would resonate - but none of the artists are stars. Not yet."

Parent says that album, released last year, was "incredibly well received" on more than one level.

"I think volume one presented an interesting snapshot not just of one aspect of New London's very highly regarded music scene but also of the area itself. You know, there are certain cities who develop an identity and image because of a music or arts scene - and that's happening to an extent with New London," Parent says.

Over the years, an intriguing development in the local scene has been the increasing fusion between a once-dominant indie rock presence and a growing collection of Americana artists. It's resulted in a compelling mix of styles and collaborations, and Parent wanted to represent that on the latest sampler.

Enter, then, The Burnouts From Outer Space and Matt Gouette, two artists whose profiles are not typically associated with roots music and who are represented on the new album.

"The thing is, I've known (Burnouts leader) Bobby Crash for a long time," Parent says. "Matt, too. And over time their music has evolved. I heard some new stuff from each and I knew they'd be great additions to what we're doing."

Of course, bands and performers more typically associated with roots music are well represented, too. This includes Dogbite, Dirt Road Radio, Nancy Parent, The Rivergods, Vince Tuckwood, Josi Davis, Hannah Fair, Lauren Agnelli, Dave Rave, Doug Woolverton, Franklin, Black Marmot, Chris MacKay & the Toneshifters, Amalgamated Muck, Ken Atkins & Honkytonk Kind, and The Sue Menhart Band - and amongst the styles covered are bluegrass, classic country, folk, country-rock and blues.

One of the fun things about the release party is that the performances will be divided. There's an early, acoustic "Dinner Set" taking place in the Bulkeley's downstairs area and, after a break, the electric "Dessert Set" bands will perform in the venue's new upstairs pub space.

There's no cover, leaving room for discretionary puchases of the CD - $15 - as well as merch from the respective bands on the bill.


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