Collinsville music scene is vibrant and varied
Updated: Jan 8
By Dennis Marolda
Special to Today Magazine Online
It's no secret that Collinsville is a cool place to hang out. In the summer you will find hundreds of people on the bike paths and the Farmington River, or in the vibrant center of town. But did you know that Collinsville is also a hot spot for local art and music?
Every Friday evening musicians from far and wide gather for the open mic at LaSalle Market. You can participate or just enjoy music performed by folks of all ages and experience levels. One local resident, Mark Barca, got back into music by becoming a regular. He was then asked to perform with several local bands.
If you are a budding musician, Mark advises you to give the Friday night open mic a whirl: “You might just find yourself in a new local band.”
LaSalle also hosts a Give Back concert one Saturday per month when bands or solo artists perform to benefit the community.
Another favorite venue is Lisa’s Crown & Hammer, which features live local music on Fridays and Saturdays, and occasionally on Thursdays and Sundays. There is also an open mic on Tuesday evenings. Musicians love to perform at the Crown because it is so intimate and people often literally dance in the aisles.
Owner Lisa Maurer feels that the music scene in Collinsville is inclusive: “It’s like a big family!” After a car crashed into the Crown and it was closed for repairs, local musicians had an all-day benefit to help out the employees who were out of work. Lisa said that $7000 was raised!
The Grindstone Tavern (formerly Wilson’s Pub) hosts area musicians on Thursdays through Saturdays. This is another intimate venue where you get up close and personal with the artists!
41 Bridge Street, or Bridge Street Live, brings in national and regional acts, but you can occasionally see local groups or soloists as well. On site you will also find the Green Door Restaurant, with a lovely deck overlooking the Farmington River. This is an ideal spot for acoustic music and great food!
Bill Benson, a Collinsville resident and popular solo performer, has been seen at all of the local venues and some special events held in the community, such as Collinsville Hot. An annual summer event, Collinsville Hot has featured all types of artists — from fire dancers to magicians to live music on two stages.
Bill also reconnected with his passion for music at the LaSalle open mic. He went on to create a cable-access show on Nutmeg TV called “Porch Time with Bill Benson.”
Next to LaSalle, on Main Street in Collinsville, is a stage we refer to as the slab that is used extensively in the summer, especially on Friday evenings. At the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market, held right on Main Street, there is more fine local talent.
41 Bridge Street, or Bridge Street Live, brings in national and regional acts.
The Canton Historical Museum across the way also organizes events — including live music, such as the popular Oktoberfest. Collinsville Congregational Church offers concerts occasionally as well.
Downright Music, located in one of the former axe factory buildings, has a shop and music school. Students are regularly given the opportunity to perform in town, fostering the next generation of musicians.
In short, if you love live music performed by friends and neighbors, you don’t have to go far or wait long. And it all happens in an area about the size of a football field: Collinsville!
A retired Army musician, Dennis Marolda resides in Collinsville and is active in the local music scene.