Artist profile of Freddy Shehadi, preview of cafe events

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Emmy-award winning musician showcased

BENNINGTON >> Behind the double red doors on South Street exists Bennington's cultural stomping ground. A number of opportunities to beat the cold weather are lurking behind those doors, and on the lime green couches at South Street Cafe.

In addition to offering their menu of liquid energy, treats and organic soups, owners Lauryn and Matt Starkie-Kreuder have amped up the number of live music performances scheduled at the cafe.

Lively tunes can be heard from Four Corners nearly every day of the week. Sit in at the cafe on any Saturday after 2 p.m. during the month of November for a free show: Guitar and vocals from Emmy award-winning guitarist and songwriter Freddy Shehadi.

Since coming off a road tour with Martin Sexton, Shehadi has migrated toward smaller venues like South Street Cafe.

"I just had that amazing experience, and places like this are reminiscent of that, whereas it is small and informal," Shehadi said. "I'd love to tour again, but in the meantime: I love places like this. People actually listen. They talk. It's an organic vibe."

Shehadi is a multi-instrumental musician, and has composed several pieces of music for television and film. He released six albums, including an album he produced with Andy Marvel and four talented Arlington boys with Island Records, as the Burnham Bros. Band in 2008.

Shehadi was awarded an Emmy in 1990, and a Mobius Award in 1998. He now lives between central Powlet, Vermont, and New York City, where he said most of his opportunities came forward.

Stylistically, Shehadi is all over the map. Even on guitar, his rhythmic and chordal style can be traced to apparent classical, contemporary rock and blues roots.

Shehadi studied at Berklee College of Music and Eastman School of Music. He also obtained his bachelor of arts degree in music at Vermont's Johnson State College, where his initial creativity was fueled.

"I was really (musically) influenced by my friends a fellow students in the music department," Shehadi said in a sit down before his Saturday acoustic jam session. "We were a group of musicians, who were just getting that early college momentum and excitement together."

The New Jersey-born musician said that his more recent musical influences have come from the contrast, "in the relationship between the city and the country; between New York, specifically, and Vermont."

Between the arts colleges and many local musicians and performers, Shehadi said Vermont is a special place where many creative minds have had their start.

"Vermont will always be a base for creativity," he said. "I'm happy and proud to be performing in Vermont any time."

Shehadi's advice to young aspiring artistic folk, is to take chances on opportunities, and consider what people think only respectively. "You need to have thick skin, but you also need to have an open heart to be an artist. There is this dichotomy: This balancing act," he said.

Freddy Shehadi is but one of several live musicians on the roster this month. The first weekend was kicked off with singer, songwriter and guitarist Cameron Sutphin Saturday night; as well as bassist Dave Banulis with vibraphone player Gary Miller, back to back with guitarist Thom Loubet on Sunday.

South Street Cafe, 105 South St., hosts "Open Mic Night" every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m., for any audible talent. Sign up in house.

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, provide a $10 donation to lend your ears to the Gypsy Jazz Trio Ameranouche at 6:30 p.m. Fast forward a couple weeks, and the Arlington Memorial Jazz Band will put on a free show Friday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.. Also, welcome back Banulis and Miller for a free bass-vibes jazz combo every Sunday at 11 a.m. in November.

Find an up to date schedule of events at South Street Cafe online at www.facebook.com/pages/South-Street-Cafe-Bakery. Call 802-447-2433 for more information.

Tom Momberg can be contacted by phone at 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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