12/2: MIKEFEST 2022!

In this season of Thanksgiving, we are very thankful to the many who continue to support our growing series. We hope you will join us to close out 2022 with a special show honoring our late friend and series founder Mike Wilcox.  We have pulled together four groups who all have a special connection to the Series (plus a surprise guest or two!):

Among the Acres
Soon after forming, Among the Acres garnered local acclaim winning CTNow’s “2018’s Best New Band” and “2019’s Best Americana Band”. Merging elements of Folk, Rock, Pop, and Americana, the band delivers an eclectic yet singular sound, marked by a tapestry of four-part vocals, dynamic grooves and a keen sense for lyricism. Cutting their teeth playing everywhere from breweries and small clubs to festivals and showcases throughout the Northeast, the “Acres” have been honing their powerhouse sound since the band’s inception in 2017. On Dec 15 of that year, Among the Acres make one of their first appearances together by invitation from Mike Wilcox at the United Methodist Church in Rocky Hill – almost 5 years to the day from MikeFest ’22!

The Bargain
We are excited to present an acoustic sneak preview of songs from The Bargain’s new CD release “’22” composed of “heady topics, delivered with the most heavenly sounds by the three singer/songwriter/musicians who make up the band, Frank Critelli, Mike “Muddy” Rivers and Shandy Lawson…the songs feel like lightening in a bottle…” said the New Haven Independent.  If you’ve been to our shows in Meriden, you know Frank. No one works harder to promote the great talent Connecticut has to offer and we are always proud of his extraordinary singing and writing talents.  In another special connection to our Series, Muddy Rivers teamed with Mike Wilcox as his first sound engineer at the Rocky Hill venue, and he is still very much a part of the soul of the Olde Church team. On Dec 2 you will hear Mike and Shandy providing their hot guitar and mandolin licks as the trio continues to fulfill its end of “The Bargain”.

Ponybird with Christina Abbott
Jennifer “Ponybird” Dauphinais makes her 5th appearance in front of our Olde Church audience – the most in the series’ history.  There is a reason we keep inviting her back! Ponybird has a beautiful voice and has been influenced by the emotional roots of country, confessional poetry of folk, and spatial freedom of ambient and harmonic tones. Her music communicates something introspective and infinite all at once. Ponybird specially enjoys collaborating with other artists and for MikeFest she will be joined by New York’s Christina Abbott who is rekindling her longtime passion for music, recently releasing her CD her first in over 10 years, “Carson City”.  

Inner Groove
Meriden native Denise Jones leads Inner Groove and has been writing and singing sweet songs for over 30 years. Importantly, Denise has also been a stalwart patron and volunteer for Mike Wilcox’s series since its inception in Rocky Hill.  The Series would not have continued if she had not volunteered to help move and expand the Series in Meriden to honor Mike and keep his musical mojo in motion.

At MikeFest, Inner Groove will consist of an intimate acoustic duo of Denise with stellar bass player Tom Sekscenski, a former member of the WPLR Breakfast Band and Trial Mile.

As you can see, this is an important show for us. The Olde Church Acoustic Series is now in its seventh year providing stress-free live music showcasing Connecticut’s best singer songwriters.  No Ticketmaster hassles here!  Doors open at 6PM so come early for an affordable home cooked meal plus desserts, juices, coffee.  Your at-will donation at the door will help support our artists and our series. Parking is FREE in the garage adjacent to the church.

Donations of Hats, Mittens or Gloves are encouraged to support the Meriden Homeless Shelter.

62 Colony Street, Meriden CT 06451
Thank you all for your continued support!


11/4: Cole Quest and the City Pickers anchor a strong November lineup!

At-will donation for entrance at the door!

Fresh off a rousing full house for our Tom Chapin show, the Olde Church Acoustic Series is excited to host Cole Quest and the City Pickers, Kate McDonnell and Daniel Hardin on Nov 4 at 7pm. An at-will donation at the door (and if possible a donation of new white crew socks for the homeless**) is appreciated for entrance. Doors open for affordable dinner options at 6pm, and free parking is available in the garage adjacent to the church.

About the Artists:

Cole Quest and The City Pickers Cole and his City Pickers are a group of New York City musicians connected by friendship and a love of bluegrass. Cole Quest, grandson of the folk icon Woody Guthrie, has brought together a collection of eclectic pickers who have gained recognition on the local scene. Performing both Quest’s original tunes as well as traditional favorites, The City Pickers bring their special brand of high-spirited talent to the stage, with up-beat, knee slapping energy and a high lonesome sound that’ll leave you wanting more.  They released their first EP, “Self [En]Titled” in April of 2021 and have been featured in The Bluegrass Situation, Bluegrass Today, Folk Alley, WFUV, American Songwriter, and many more. They’ve shared bills with acts such as Sierra Hull, Sarah Jaroz, Billy Strings & Don Julin, Della Mae, Blind Boy Paxton, and Tony Trischka, and they continue to perform for live audiences throughout the US.

Kate McDonnell
As a precocious four-year-old, Kate McDonell heard a Joan Baez album in her mother’s collection. Her reaction was immediate: she picked up her mom’s guitar, taller than she was, and started to teach herself how to play the instrument, strung for a right-handed player, left-handed “upside down and backwards,” using her stronger right hand for chording and ignoring the customary positioning of the guitar strings.  This has led to a long career including early years touring with her sister and later joining Freddie Tane to form McDonnell-Tane and cut two successful albums over several years the duo opened for touring stars such as Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Judy Collins. Kate also found time to join an all-female trio, Colossal Olive, which gigged in the New Haven area.  In 1992, she released her debut solo album, “Broken Bones,” and was voted the #1 singer-songwriter in New Haven in the New Haven Advocate’s poll. Jonathan Edwards called her “one of the premier female solo acoustic acts around,”. She hit the studio again in the summer of 2020 to record her 5th album “Ballad of a Bad Girl”. This collection of 11 songs comprises two covers by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Richard Thompson, with the balance being original pieces. She is very excited to bring her new songs to her fans, old, new, and yet to be.

Daniel Hardin
Daniel Hardin is a singer/songwriter and guitarist out of NYC who continues to write prolifically, releasing songs on a monthly basis and refusing to be pigeonholed into a particular genre.  He released his 3rd album “Rock for the Honda CR-V” in the fall of 2021. It is a moodier, darker mix of songs than his 2020 release “Spice Cabinet”. Spice Cabinet was a blend of funk, rock, Americana and jazz that featured musicians known around the globe including Mark Lettieri (Snarky Puppy, The Fearless Flyers), Ariel Posen, Jesus Molina, and Emrah Kotan. Daniel is also a talented luthier and a proud member of the Humble Plum Universe, a fun and unique collaboration that comes together on occasion with the challenge of writing, producing and releasing an entire CD in 24 hours. Daniel has played at the Bitter End in NYC, sold out the Velvet Note in Alpharetta GA and is settling into NYC after graduating from college in Athens, GA. Trivia: if you’ve watched any of the Olde Church videos, it is Daniel’s intro and outro composition that bookends our video productions.

Our generous host, The First Church of Meriden, is asking for all of us to help make their Socktober initiative a big success; so let’s rock their socks off by donating pair(s) of new, white men’s cotton crew socks to help the local homeless community. [Men’s Size 6-12 will fit most all men and women.]

10/7: Tom Chapin LIVE!

In a career that spans five decades, 27 albums and three Grammy awards, Tom Chapin has covered an incredible amount of creative ground. In addition to his work as a recording artist, concert performer, storyteller and activist, he’s acted on Broadway and worked extensively in television, radio and film.

With hundreds of songs in his repertoire, Chapin serves up a tasty mix of story songs, ballads, comedic and political songs, family music, sing-alongs, old-time folk classics and a favorite song or two of his late brother Harry’s. Tom accompanies himself on guitar, banjo and autoharp.

In addition to his musical and media endeavors, Chapin has long been an advocate for issues of hunger and social justice, environmental causes, and a supporter of music and the arts in public schools.

On Oct 7 in Meriden we will kick off our new season in our historic venue by celebrating the release of Tom’s new CD “Hold Our Ground”. Come early for an affordable home-cooked meal. FREE parking in the large garage adjacent to the church. Buy your tickets now!

8/4: Gary Burr Returns to the OCAS Stage at Hubbard Park!

Q: What do Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dolly Parton and Gary Burr have in common?
A: All are in Nashville’s Songwriting Hall of Fame.

We are excited to have Gary Burr returning to Hubbard Park Thursday Aug 4, 6:30pm for a FREE live show.

Check out the list of songs Gary has written and the amazing list of stars who’ve performed them! >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Burr

See y’all there!

7/7: Funky Dawgs Brass Band at Hubbard Park!

The Olde Church Acoustic Series is fired up to host a night of great music with the Funky Dawgz Brass Band kicking off our three monthly shows at the Hubbard Park Bandshell in Meriden!  

Frank Critelli will host as always – simply bring your chair or blanket and enjoy an uplifting evening in the park! Showtime is 6:30pm  (we are working on securing a food truck; stay tuned for updates).

The Funky Dawgz Brass Band is one of the premier touring acts on the live music scene today. Emerging from Connecticut, these young men have engulfed the spirit and traditions of New Orleans as well as earned the respect from local musicians who grew up and reside in the city. It is impossible not to enjoy yourself during a show as they play a contagious upbeat mix of traditional New Orleans R&B, original music, hip hop, funk, and today’s top hits with a brass twist. (Check out their new album “Vertical” for a taste of their skills).

Fresh off the Green River Music Festival, the band has toured nationally from coast to coast, as well as internationally and have been featured in all corners of the live music scene. From playing sold out shows at Madison Square Garden as the horn section for Dispatch, to Camp Bisco, to closing out The Peach Music Festival.

There is a reason they were featured as one of Live For Live Music’s “Brass Bands You Need To Know”. The Funky Dawgz are dropping jaws. The band’s high energy horns have been featured on bills with Dispatch, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, We The Kings, Snarky Puppy, The Soul Rebels, Lettuce, The Motet, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Twiddle, Turkuaz, Kung Fu, Bernard Purdie, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, and the list continues.

Come see what all the hype is about!

Ain’t no party like a Funky Dawgz party, ‘cus a Funky Dawgz party don’t stop!

Thank you all for your continued support!


6/2: Hitch & The Giddyup and The Meadow Brothers at Augustus Curtis Cultural Center

The Olde Church Acoustic Series kicks off its outdoor summer season Thursday June 2 at 6PM with a special show at the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center, 175 East Main Street in Meriden.  We plan to be on the outside stage but if weather is an issue we’ll move inside.  We have an amazing pizza truck coming so bring chairs and blankets and enjoy two very entertaining bands.

Hitch & the Giddyup and The Meadows Brothers are two of Connecticut’s premier acts with amazing skills, harmonies, and a knack for pure entertainment. 

Park along Pleasant Street or East Main Street or any of the neighboring lots. Big thanks to United Snack Group for stepping up as a presenting sponsor for this event.

We are honored, as always, to have Frank Critelli host – Frank has put together a phenomenal summer of music for us all. You can see the entire schedule below and follow our website or Facebook for updates. [Note the JULY, AUG and SEPT shows will be from the Hubbard Park Bandshell Stage.]  



Hitch & the Giddyup:

Moving skillfully between original bluegrass, soulful Americana, and honky tonk country, Hitch & the Giddyup trade in a variety of musical wares. Their harmonious singing, hot picking, and especially deft songwriting make them a unique presence in the folk music sphere. The group took shape in 2014 as a collective of several well-known Connecticut acoustic bands, and found that they shared an uncommon chemistry and a mutual interest in writing and performing original American music.

The Meadows Brothers:


5/6: Lara Herscovitch, Brian Dolzani, and Marc Douglas Berardo

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April 17, 2022

MERIDEN, CT – The Olde Church Acoustic Series is pleased to join forces with CT Folk to deliver an eventing of great music featuring Lara Herscovitch, Brian Dolzani and Marc Douglas Berardo on Friday, May 6 at 6:30pm at First Church of Meriden on Colony St in Meriden. 

The Olde Church Acoustic Series is a celebration of music created and performed by Connecticut’s finest singers and songwriters. The series was founded by Mike Wilcox in 2016 in Rocky Hill, CT, and when Mike became terminally ill, his friends Dave Cooley, Frank Critelli, and Denise Jones offered to continue the series, moving it to its current larger venue in Meriden, the historic First Church of Meriden, CT on Colony Street.  The new venue is a stunning 1878 facility that offers inspirational architecture, incredible acoustics and a convenient central Connecticut location. With support from The Meriden Foundation, the entire audio system was upgraded in March. 

“We have hosted veteran headliners and younger artists too,” shared Master of Ceremonies Frank Critelli.  “With CT Folk’s support we are able to deliver three performers who are all headliners in their own right.” 

CT Folk is committed to being a guide to the Folk, Roots and Americana music community, and to supporting and advocating for environmental and social justice initiatives in Connecticut and the global community. CT Folk is committed to provide performance opportunities for emerging-to-established artists, support the development of new work, provide educational programming, pay tribute to individuals who have made distinctive or significant contributions to our musical and environmental culture, and recognize those who have contributed to the betterment of our community. 

“CT Folk’s partnership with the Olde Church series on this special night, allows us to create bridges within the state’s music community which strengthens the work we all want to achieve,” added CT Folk’s Event Director Nicole Mikula. 

Series Director, David Cooley says, “Our goal continues to be delivering exceptional music that is accessible to all.” 

The Olde Church Acoustic series features not only great music, but also delicious, reasonably priced “home cooked” dinners from the church’s kitchen. Admission to the shows is by donation – whatever one can afford. First Church is also only steps from the Meriden CTRail station and offers plenty of free, safe and convenient parking. 

To learn more:


BRIAN DOLZANI  Connecticut-based songwriter Brian Dolzani’s music has been called ‘musical medicine for the soul’. Often compared vocally to Neil Young, Dolzani’s newest release “We Are Magic” has an ‘unreleased Neil studio album’ feel to it. We Are Magic follows up Dolzani’s highly acclaimed previous albums, including 2018’s Horse, recorded in Connecticut at Dirt Floor, and 2015’s A Place That I Can Feel, recorded in Nashville with a cast of musicians who have played with Roy Orbison and Vince Gill. Dolzani has recorded in Memphis with legendary keyboardist, Rev. Charles Hodges, and drummer George Sluppick (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, City Champs) 

Brian performs all across the United States and has shared the stage with The Subdudes, Bill Payne of Little Feat, Midnight North, Freedy Johnston, Caravan of Thieves, and many others. 

LARA HERSCOVITCH Connecticut’s Lara Herscovitch served as Connecticut State Troubadour 2009-10 and is a singer-songwriter-poet-performer-author and policy social worker.  She writes masterful modern folk-americana music, sings and leads with authenticity, integrity, humor and heart, and delivers performances that inspire, uplift and entertain on a voice that Performer Magazine called “clear and smooth like expensive liquor.” 

The Boston Globe touted Lara’s talents as “…a luminous voice and a buoyant stage presence… big-hearted lyrics embrace the sum of life…”  Lara’s songs are soulful, poetic treasure maps that point to the wisdom, grit and joy of underdogs & misfits, connection & courage, love & loss, hardship & hope, resilience & transformation.

MARC DOUGLAS BERARDO  Marc Douglas Berardo is an award-winning Singer Songwriter, performer and keen observer who combines songs that mine the deep feelings and lessons gleaned from real life characters and situations. Berardo is known for his onstage presence that uses humor and deft storytelling to rally an audience and lead them into a deep and almost spiritual experience. It’s an adventure that brings to mind James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett, Guy Clark or Steely Dan with a touch of Mark Twain or Hunter S. Thompson for good measure. It’s a night of laughter and emotion that works to send an audience home with a renewed sense of possibility. 

With a painter’s eye for detail, and music firmly rooted in the great American sound, Berardo sings about circus retirees, expatriates in Florida rum bars, union iron workers, old poets, aimless New York City debutantes, near death car crashes, hard-nosed fishermen and of course, the changes that experience brings to everyone. He does this “simply and well” with what Rambles Cultural Magazine calls: “careful images and great tunes”. 

Along the way Berardo has shared the stage with a variety of national acts including  The Doobie Brothers, Peter Rowan, NRBQ, Guy Clark, Vassar Clements, Ralph Stanley, Norman Blake, Steve Forbert, Justin Townes Earle, Eric Anderson, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, Red Molly, Livingston Taylor, The Pousette-Dart Band, Will Kimbrough, and John Hiatt among others. 

If you missed our last show, check out the video of Pass The Guitar from April 1st.

2/4: A Night of Meriden Stars

It was a cold, icy night, but we managed to pull off our salute to Meriden music show with Farewood Duo, Cessa & The Zach, and Coconuts. Check out the show…

Our home base of Meriden has a long history of talented musical artists, and we are excited to showcase several of the city’s current stars on Friday Feb 4 at 6:30pm.

Meriden’s Coconuts have been entertaining fans with their humorous rock shows since 1977 – HOWEVER in the spirit of the Olde Church Acoustic Series the band will perform a unique and rare performance of their own original songs!

Since the 1990s, Farewood has been consistently inventive producing unique, ethereal rock while recording six albums. We look forward to highlighting the band’s vocals in its stripped-down incarnation as Farewood Duo!

Cessa & the Zach are younger players on the  scene who have quickly earned a large following.  These singing siblings offer energetic and creative songs that will certainly have you smiling.  

As always, Frank Critelli will host, and may have a few surprises. 

For this show, simply come to the door and donate what you can for admittance.  Doors will open at 5:30pm. 

Depending on the Covid situation, our crack kitchen staff is hoping  to serve up slices of the best of Meriden’s All-Star pizza proprietors!

For the safety of all, we are requiring proof of vaccination at the door, and that attendees wear masks while inside the church.  

We offer FREE PARKING in the spacious, safe garage behind 24 Colony Street.

Thank you all for your continued support as we rally yet again!


Final Show of 2021 with Rex Fowler and Dodie Pettit of Aztec Two Step 2.0


Rex Fowler, Dodie Pettit and Steven “Muddy” Roues of Aztec Two-Step 2.0!

The story of Aztec Two-Step is intertwined with the history of folk/rock music in America. Originating from a chance meeting in 1971 at an “open mic night” in Boston, Rex & Neal went on to record four albums on Elektra and RCA Records that helped usher the music of the 60’s into the 1970’s and beyond, leaving an indelible mark on the musical genre. Since Neal retired in 2018, Rex and his wife Dodie Pettit, an accomplished musician and an original member of The Phantom of the Opera, are now the heart and soul of ATS 2.0. Together they continue to expand and explore the band’s musical legacy with fan favorites, forgotten gems and outstanding new original compositions.

Shellye Valauskas with Dean Falcone

Based in the New Haven area, Valauskas and Falcone have been making music together for years.  In addition to being Valauskas’ songwriting collaborator, bandmate & producer, Falcone has served the Connecticut music scene since the early ’80s with Jon Brion in The Excerpts, his own Dean and the Dragsters and a host of others. He has also worked on a national level collaborating with Norah Jones, Brian May (Queen), Aimee Mann, Lydia Loveless, Susannah Hoffs and Neko Case. In 2018, as “The Shellye Valauskas Experience”, they released History of Panic, produced by Falcone, which demonstrated their shared love of the punchy pop of Crowded House, The Posies and Aimee Mann nailing a distinctive, accessible, radio-friendly sound from the start. 

Brooke Dougan

The Olde Church welcomes back local favorite Brooke Dougan who has been making music her whole life.  An open mic appearance at age 14 led to a steady stream of solo performances throughout Connecticut and now at 18 she is an experienced and talented songwriter with over 50 original songs already in her growing catalog.  Brooke’s live shows typically feature acoustic guitar while her recordings usually find her using electric guitars to create layers of sounds.  Brooke is a talented guitarist who utilizes multiple open tunings and techniques to serve the different moods of her songs.  What really makes Brooke special is the way she sings softly with an intimacy, confidence, depth and a bit of rasp.  Her songs are thoughtful with melodies that will stay with you!

If you missed our Nov show, check it out here