The creative energy that the Gathering of the Vibes Festival has brought to Seaside Park over the years has undoubtedly given Bridgeport a great name in terms of supporting music and the arts. But long after Vibes ends, the Bridgeport music scene still thrives.

Small music venues, restaurants and bars host local talent frequently, and showcase bands that have sounds similar to those of Vibes artists. And while the winter months may prevent us from heading down to Seaside Park to soak up the sun, Bridgeport and its surrounding areas do their best to give the curious music adventurers something to do.

Bridgeport pizza restaurant and hot spot, Two Boots, located approximately ten minutes from Seaside Park on Fairfield Avenue, hosts live music every weekend with bands pumping out reggae, blues, jazz, rock and folk. Voted Best Restaurant with Live Music by Fairfield Weekly’s Reader Poll for four consecutive years, Two Boots has the funky upbeat atmosphere that most channels the spirit often seen at Vibes.

Roberta Pettit, Manager of the Bridgeport Two boots says she credits the restaurant’s dedication to showcasing local music to its founder, Phil Hartman.

The arts are a big part of his life, and it was important to him to bring live, local and original music to this area specifically. His vision was to help build downtown Bridgeport, he saw an opportunity here, she said.

While there are a string of Two Boot’s restaurants throughout New York, the Bridgeport location is one of the only that hosts live entertainment.

He [Hartman] was most excited to do it at this location, in this building, Pettit said.  He is so dedicated to supporting local musicians and all genres of music, which creates a diverse crowd here.

A Wisconsin native, the young manager says she can see the transformation of downtown in just the ten months she has been a part of Two Boots.

There is a different element in this area now with the addition of new restaurants and other places of entertainment such as the Bijou theatre.

The Bijou Theatre located a couple steps away from Two Boots is the area’s growing venue for stand-up comedy, plays, and film showcases.

Such places help aid in downtown Bridgeport’s reputation of being an arts and music related community. There are several venues to seek out cabaret and concerts such as the Playhouse on the Green, Downtown Cabaret Theatre, the Klein Memorial Auditorium and bigger concert venues such as the Arena at Harboryard.

Just this past December, the Klein Memorial Auditorium held its New Year’s concert series by Vibes veterans, Dark Star Orchestra, a Chicago-based Grateful Dead tribute band whose following stretches across the nation. Drawing fans both young and old, Dark Star Orchestra is no stranger to playing shows throughout Connecticut, including the New Haven’s legendary Toad’s Place, where music greats such as The Doors, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones have all rocked out.

Keeping in the theme of diverse arts and recreation, Housatonic Community College, located just blocks from Fairfield Avenue, holds the largest art collection in any two-year community college in the nation. Holding exhibits frequently, Housatonic boasts over 5,000 pieces throughout the campus.

Past exhibits have displayed both contemporary and traditional works, but the museum is most notably intriguing due to its collection of art by legends such as Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Auguste Rodin. The best part about making the trip to Housatonic’s Museum of Art is that it is completely free and open to the public.

With less than an hour drive from Bridgeport to New York City, the influence of music and art has seeped over the border, infectiously taking over Fairfield County and beyond. Other big cities such as Stamford and New Haven are nesting grounds for down-to-earth restaurants, killer nightlife, and tasty eats. The potential to experience new and upcoming bands is endless.

The best part about being so close to the annual Vibes action, is that within close proximity of Seaside Park, residents of the area can check out previous Vibes artists, such as the McLovins, Deep Banana Blackout, Kung Fu, Max Creek, Assembly of Dust and a handful of others who have played shows throughout Connecticut and are likely to do so again.

Keeping your eyes and ears open for new and upcoming music has proven easier than ever with the help of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Getting through the rest of winter is easier with the help of good tunes alongside good company.

Indulging in a night of Two Boots pizza and craft beers in the great city of Bridgeport, or wherever you may be, is ideal to keeping your spirits lifted through the dreary months. Until the warm breezes of July visits us again, keep the good vibes flowing by embracing your neighborhood music scene.

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