EXPLORE NEW ENGLAND / CONNECTICUT
NEW HAVEN – This city is a maze of one-way streets, ancient-looking university buildings, and, oh yes, nightclubs. You didn’t think Yale students just studied all the time, did you?
The scene is more vibrant than one might expect. Bostonians – and especially Harvard Cantabrigians – tend to thumb their noses at New Haven. But after dark, there’s an active pulse here that quickens to a roar on weekends…….
My night starts with happy hour at an Archie Moore’s, a neighborhood bar/restaurant which, with four others in the state, collectively sells 20 tons of chicken wings a month. The laid-back bar, featuring scuffed floors and homey wooden tables, is already bustling at 5:30 p.m. with an after-work crowd.
The find of the trip, however, is Cafe Nine, at the corner of Crown and State streets. It has the unpretentious look of Cambridge’s Plough & Stars or Somerville’s recently closed Tir na nOg. Locals call it the “musicians’ living room” and for good reason. I overhear one conversation about the intricacies of the banjo, another about a friend’s home recording studio. Everyone seems like aseasoned musician here – and the music is fabulous. Elana James & the Continental Two are playing on a small stage, ripping through a set of bluegrass hoedowns and Western swing. James was with the group Hot Club of Cowtown, which opened a tour for Bob Dylan two years ago.
I hit the road at 1 a.m. to drive the 120 miles back to Boston. The next morning, I get up and turn on the radio. I hear James live on Harvard’s WHRB-FM (95.3), plugging her show in the area that night. She must not have gotten much sleep if she made it up from New Haven so quickly. I’m reminded that no matter what the scene – from Boston to New Haven or beyond – a musician’s life is never easy.
Sunday By Steve Morse, Globe Correspondent