Music on Main Street: Soft summer sounds fill the air (VIDEO)


Good weather, great music, and one of the best Main Streets in the country — does it get any better?

That was the attitude a pair of Bethel musicians carried into Ridgefield Monday afternoon as they played jazz and R&B tunes against the sounds of rush hour traffic at the corner of Main Street and Catoonah Street.

“We’re just doing it for fun,” said Tom Schmidt, who was playing Stevie Wonder’s “Summer Soft” on the keyboards before taking time to speak with The Press.

“It’s not a big deal for us to come hang here and do what we love to do, which is play music,” he said. “We’ve gone into the city and played on the streets of New York doing the same thing we’re doing right now …

“On a free day, it’s a good thing to do.”

Schmidt discovered Ridgefield’s historic Main Street thanks to friend and saxophonist Ben Fitzpatrick, who started playing on the corner of Main Street and Bailey Avenue last week before moving across the road Monday.

The 2016 graduates of Bethel High School played together in front of Fairfield County Bank, where they said the support couldn’t have been stronger.

“This is a pretty nice place to play — there’s a lot of crosswalks and tons of foot traffic,” Fitzpatrick explained. “It’s a lot better than Bethel. We don’t have a ton of foot traffic in our downtown area.”

Schmidt was amazed at the donations people were tipping him and his former jazz band member.

“People who work inside the bank have come out and given us some pretty good support,” he said, noticing a few five dollar bills in their jar. “And a lot of other people have been sitting on nearby benches giving us the thumbs up, which is nice.”

Return plans

Fitzpatrick, the architect of the impromptu Main Street jam session, said he plans to return with other friends — and perhaps even more instruments.

“There’s a lot of space on this corner,” he said, looking across to the spot next to Books on the Common where he played last week.

“I have a bunch of different friends I want to jam with, and this seems like a pretty good place to do it,” he added. “I hope to get some drums out here and maybe a bass guitar or even a trumpet.”

That means the soulful summer sounds aren’t going anywhere any time soon, which is welcome news to Schmidt.

“I joined jazz band in my senior year so I’ve only been playing for about a year now,” he said. “And I practice every day by myself but this is a lot better.”

As for what resident can expect to hear, Schmidt said the duo — and whatever other bandmates they bring to town — can play anything.

“Jazz is all about improvisation — we do what we’re feeling,” he said.

“And we play however long we want,” added Fitzpatrick.

“I would say it’s working out pretty well.”