New Haven Independent: Concert Series Turns Goatville Into The Village

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It was a night of multitasking in an already multifaceted space this past Saturday, as mActivity — gym by day, and now, thanks to Fernando Pinto and his East Rock Concert Series, concert venue and café by night — hosted Kevin Burt and Dom Flemons in a double feature

Both musicians never seemed to just play one instrument, whether it was Burt’s virtuosic harmonica or Flemons’s quills, bones, or otherwise.

The room was filled with locals, many familiar faces in the East Rock neighborhood, sipping suggested-donation wine or beer, bundled lightly against the harsh November chill and creating a very folky vibe in the room itself. Everyone seemed very excited to see the two musicians. About half the room had been to mActivity for a show before. The other half was in for a treat of transformation.

The front café area of the fitness facility lent itself strikingly well to a coffee shop vibe — something that appealed to Pinto, himself a sometime mActivity gym member and neighbor of the space.

“I saw the monthly parties that they [mActivity] do for their members, and seeing the people talking, and drinking wine, and I thought it would be really great if we had shows here,” Pinto said. That emphasis on community carried through: This felt like a neighborhood venue, as a steady trickle of faces looking in the window demonstrated. The crowd was attentive, tuned in, like one imagines might have been at the Greenwich Village landmark the Gaslight in the ‘60s. (The music programming is now frequent: Sunday saw a double billing of two more folk singer-songwriters, with many more musicians booked well into the spring.).

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