Nestled quietly in the Broadview Dairy building on Washington Street just north of the river lies the Caterina Winery. Known locally for its fine grape creations, the winery also boasts a lovely wine bar that features live music on the weekends and a taste of vino to warm these cold nights. The bar is done up in a vineyard motif and offers a great place to relax. The cracked stucco walls reveal the giant stones that made up the original foundation of the historic building. The high walls give way to exposed duct work that has been painted black, creating a sense of depth that really opens up the space. Bistro-style seating dots the distressed concrete floor, and various wrought iron accents add just the right amount of flavor.
Plenty of people made their way out of the snow for wine and to enjoy the sounds of the Side Project. The four-piece put together songs that drew from classical influence to pop sensibilities and also incorporated some magnificent musicianship. The tunes were decidedly mellow, but a few picked up the tempo and revealed a fun and relaxed side of the band. Suzie Anderson contributed the voice, exhibiting great range as well as control: She didn't simply blow away her band mates with a soaring set of pipes. She was capably accompanied by Parker (just Parker) on the keyboard, Ben Bradford on guitar and Joe Varela behind the kit. This was the group's fourth performance at Caterina, but you couldn't tell by the audience's enthusiasm. "This place is really intimate and personal, and we get free wine," Parker enthused. "They take care of us," he added with a smile.
It was plain to see the band enjoyed the performance as much as those in attendance. The group is currently waiting for its debut album to be pressed and is trying to drum up some buzz with live performances during the wait. The album will feature 16 tracks and was produced by drummer Varela. One day after receiving $200 for recording a friend of a friend's band, he decided to take it up full time. Originally signed on to produce the Side Project's album, Varela has now taken on drumming duties. "I definitely took my work home with me on this one. I don't normally jam with bands I'm recording," Varela said. From the look of it, the lineup is working out well. Everyone in the band can't say enough good things about one another; it's evident they enjoy performing together.
Candles flickered as the Side Project set wound to an end with a poppy, upbeat song that culminated in a barrage of piano runs, drum rolls and acoustic guitar-tweaking. The audience erupted in applause and friends came by the performance area to wish well and congratulate. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by a random trip out to see a performance by a group I knew nothing about. This town and its scene have produced -- and continues to produce -- fine musicians in all genres. You can catch the Side Project before it becomes a full-time thing at the Spike on Jan. 30 and at the Detour the next night. If you like what you hear, watch for a release from the band in late February.