Jamie at Mezzo Grille!

Jamie Mezzo Grille
Wicked Good News By Timothy Unkert

It’s Sunday evening, ugh. Many of us suffer from Sunday-night-blues, dreading another long work week. Luckily the solution to that is a lot closer than you think. One man and one place can lift your spirits, turning your Sunday-night-blues into “Sunday Funday,” while causing you to simultaneously lift your glass, spin it around your head, and let out a long, drawn-out shout with one word, “Sociaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!” The man’s name is Jamie Livesey and the place is Mezzo Grille.

Jamie, who was born in Glastonbury, covers a wide range of songs on his acoustic guitar, songs ranging from “Down Under” by Men at Work to “We Found Love” by Rihanna. He even throws in a little “Red Solo Cup” in from time to time. His groovy, acoustic style is well known throughout the New England music and party scene. If you’re wondering how Jamie developed his act into such a wide variety of songs, it’s best we start from the beginning.

“I was twelve; I started playing on the electric, then in high school on the acoustic because I could kind of croon on my own and girls seemed to like it,” Jamie remembers. “I played the sensitive guy role for a while,” he adds with a smile.

“Sean and I started playing music live in bars in 1987 at Mory’s Pub in Springfield while attending Western New England College,” Jamie continues, “I was eighteen at the time.”

“I met Sean Forrest, who played guitar, and we just started playing there mid-week.”

It was during this time that one of Jamie’s signature moves developed. If you’ve ever seen Jamie perform, then you may wonder where he got the idea to spin a glass over his head, yell, “Sociaaaaaaallllll,” and then take a drink.

“We used to play drinking games in college … late 80’s Western New England in Springfield. Sean was my roommate. Twice, around the head, before you drank … or you had to drink twice,” Jamie fondly remembers.

As Jamie continued to develop and refine his act he traveled far and wide, playing with several different performers. Jamie’s partnership with Sean lasted until 1994, and then in 1995 he traveled to St. Thomas, then Hilton Head South Carolina, staying at each place for six months and keeping afloat from solo performances. In 1995 he was lured back to New England, this time traveling to Killington, VT. There, he began playing with Mac (Chris “Mac” McHale), forming the Mac and Jamie duo. After a brief foray out west to Vail, Colorado during the winter of 97/98, Jamie returned to Connecticut, this time moving to Old Lyme to be closer to the Pavilion, where he still plays to this day.

It was during the summer of 1998 while working at the Pavilion, where Jamie met his wife, Stephanie. Stephanie was working as a bartender there at the time.

“Our lifestyles kind of fit, ya know,” Jamie says, “both of us working multiple days at the Pavilion, and how we enjoy the beach.”

Stepanie is now the bar manager at the Pavilion and she and Jamie have two delightful children. It would be hard for many couples to successfully raise a family while living a rock n’ roll lifestyle but Jamie and Stephanie manage to do it.

“We have to plan months in advance. Either my wife’s sister takes our kids or we have to juggle our babysitter. Especially in the summertime, in the winter Stephanie works one day a week at the Pickle Barrel (in Killington) so she can be a stay-at-home mom, but in the summer she works 60 to 70 hours a week at the Pavilion and I’m traveling a lot. It’s definitely a juggling act. The neighbors help out a lot, too. They say it takes a village.”

Jamie credits much of his success to the relationships he’s built over the years, “I always say that my friends keep me afloat, without them supporting me or referring me, I don’t know where I would be.”

“The thing I enjoy the most about performing is the interaction with the people,” Jamie continues, “The scene is so much fun.”

Jamie loved interacting with his fans so much he started playing at some of their weddings. “I told them I didn’t really have a band to play a wedding, but they didn’t care. They said, ‘we want you to play our wedding.’ I did two or three of those per year and then I formed the Junk Show.”

Jamie and the Junk Show formed in 2006 and have been playing ever since. The band consists of Jamie, Rob Volo, the bassist and trombonist, and Donnie Fortin, his drum player. His current schedule includes playing Monday and Tuesday at the Pavilion, as well as playing Sunday evenings at Mezzo, from 5 to 9 p.m. He also plays many bars, pubs, and private functions; including the Hungry Tiger Cafe in Manchester, CT, the Redding Roadhouse in Redding, CT, the Matunuck Pub in RI, the Westfield River Brewing Co. in Southwick, MA, Yellow Kittens on Block Island in RI, and will be playing August 4th at the Foundry in Killington, VT. When summer ends, you can find Jamie and the Junk Show at Plan B in Glastonbury starting in September and in Killington, VT all winter.

Even with such a busy schedule, Jamie finds time to give back, something he doesn’t necessarily share with most.

“Every year Jamie plays for the Parrot Head Club, a Jimmy Buffet style club that is a charity around the state. On one of our Thirsty Thursday’s Jamie and Donnie play for free, giving their time to the charity,” remarks Kimberly Czaja, a local Middletown resident and a member of the Parrot Head Club of Connecticut.

“You’d probably never know that from Jamie,” she continues. In fact, before her mention of it, Jamie hadn’t brought it up, preferring to remain reticent about his philanthropy. Upon the mention of it, he downplays his altruism, remarking, “We play for beer that day.”

Mezzo Grille partners with Jamie for this charity benefit, hosting it on September 7th. “Mezzo is very generous in giving us swag and stuff like that and Jamie gives his time which really helps us,” Kim remarks.

“Jamie and Donnie have been playing the benefit for the last four years. They have raised the most money for a “Thirsty Thursday”. Jamie is a big draw,” she continues.

When Jamie isn’t busy at a show or helping out with a benefit, he is busy planning ahead.

“When I get some time freed up and my kids get a little older, I’d like to spend some time in the studio. I would like to record some original recordings and some music that we’ve written and composed. I’d like to do some recording with all the great musicians I’ve met in the Connecticut area. I’d like to get some of these great people on board and help me record some original stuff.”

You can see Jamie and Donnie Sunday evenings at Mezzo Grille, located at 106 Court Street Middletown, CT, from 5 to 9 p.m. To find out about other performance dates and locations please visit his website, jamiesjunkshow.com.