Thursday, June 28, 2007

Library Doubles As Rock Venue

The thumping of the bass could be heard through the main-floor reading rooms Tuesday evening as a three-member band rocked the New Britain Public Library.

The High Strung, a Detroit-based band that sounds like the Beatles with a funkier edge, played a 12-song, one-hour set to about 50 library patrons of all ages. The basement concert kicked off the library's summer programming for teenagers.

New Britain was the second stop on the band's second nationwide library tour. Last year, the band - drummer Derek Berk, guitarist Josh Malerman and bass player Chad Stocker - played 60 shows, including one at Westport's public library, where New Britain teen librarian Ann Marie Naples saw the group.

"I heard they were touring again, and I just had to book them," Naples said.

The band admits that library shows are a little more subdued than their shows at bars, but their tunes resonated with the audience members, many of whom were unfamiliar with the musical genre.

"Why have a rock show at a library?" frontman Josh Malerman asked the audience. "It seems as good a place as any."

Tuesday's show was 12-year-old Jason LaPierre's first rock concert.

"It was better than I thought it would be," LaPierre said. "I liked how we made our own song."

After playing their own music, the band invited the audience to write and play a song of their own by culling random library books for lyrics that sounded "rock" and playing backup on percussion instruments.

Receiving no complaints from patrons using the library for its traditional purposes, Naples said she would invite the group back if it has a third library tour. But fellow librarian Pat Rutkowski pointed out the band's recent success; its music has been featured on National Public Radio and in an upcoming film with Eva Longoria.

"Next time, they might be far too famous to come here."

For more information on the New Britain library program visit

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