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Shrewsbury’s Cara Brindisi combines the Power of Music and Community

Friday, December 07, 2012


For Cara Brindisi, a native of Shrewsbury and now a regular on the Central Mass music scene, music is a powerful tool, one that can produce happiness within an individual and build a community through many.

"I believe music is as special to me as it is to any other person who loves music," Brindisi remarked, explaining her love of the medium.

"The best part is gaining a connection with someone through music. Whether sharing in the joy of a live concert with 10,000 people you don't know, singing in a coffee shop to two people who are sincerely listening to your song, listening to your favorite CD thinking that Simon and Garfunkel secretly knew about your life before you were even born, or singing among a choir of teenagers at Mechanics Hall and realizing that being 16 isn't all that bad. "

"It's all about those human connections and experiences that drive me to continue music," she continued.

This exemplifies the story of this young woman's career in the art. By day, she is a  certified musical therapist, bringing joy and comfort through music to children, hospice patients, and the elderly; by night, she makes her presence known on the Worcester and greater New England restaurant, bar, and club scene, playing her sharp acoustic blend of pop and alternative ballads. Crisp guitar playing combined with a natural and elegant voice assures Brindisi has a very bright future in the Worcester area and beyond. She has already made an imprint.

You can hear this for yourself on her website and Facebook, where she has posted beautiful and original arrangements of old classics like Neil Young's "Old Man" and  "You Are My Sunshine" in addition to her very own original songs like the emotional and melodic "Pour Me Wine," and the autobiographical "San Diego."

"My favorite types of music to play are probably slower and free flowing ballad-type songs.  Granted, I love playing with a full band and bringing the energy high, but my favorite is being able to sing a song and change the phrasing, allowing myself room to sing something a little bit different each time I play," she said, explaining her unique style.

"The more I learn a song, the more I instinctively interpret the melody and arrangement my own way.  If it's done the same way each time, we'd all be bored!"

Other tunes commonly part of her sets include those as wide-ranging as The Beatles' classic "With a Little Help from My Friends," Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," and Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight," plus hits from John Denver, the Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Tracy Chapman, and even TLC to old standards like "Moon River" and "Route 66."

For as long as she can remember, Brindisi has been performing on stage, but it hasn't always been strictly music. Growing up in Shrewsbury, she was involved in the local theatre seen, often performing at the Worcester County Light Opera, Calliope, and the Westborough Players Club. But when the time came to apply to college, she decided she wanted to try something a bit different and went to attend the Berklee College of Music.

"Once I got there, it was constant music.  In every hallway, every class, every dorm, every party, even on the street!" she said.

While there she did little performing and focused instead on earning her Music Therapy degree, but she continued to pay attention to her own musical talent and that of others. 

"I was constantly listening. I think the secret was that the more I listened, the more I learned about my own voice and style. "

Upon graduating, Brindisi laned a music therapy internship in San Diego. She stayed there for six months in 2011, but soon decided, after a number of "life-changing experiences," to return to Massachusetts to start an acoustic act while continuing her work as a music therapist. She almost instantly fell in love with the Worcester community and its vibrant culture, and quickly gained connections through her two overlapping careers.

"I then discovered that Worcester had a great music and art scene and I'd like to keep meeting folks involved in that world.  I hadn't spent much time in Worcester prior to 2011, but as the pieces came together (working as a Music Therapist with families in the city and playing music in the city), I gained a huge respect and love for this community.  There is a realness to the people and history of Worcester that can often be overlooked."

She said she wants to continue to contribute this scene, become immersed in and build upon it. And she certainly has accomplished that goal to date. She gained a permanent  Thursday night gig Vincent's and can commonly be seen at many other Worcester venues including Nick's, Park Grill and Spirits, Funky Murphy's and Ralph's Diner (she has upcoming shows at the latter two).

This past summer she began playing with the other musicians, and with them formed the band The Feather Merchants with Mike Harmon  on drums, Chris Houston on bass, guitar and vocals, Chelsea White on Fiddle and of course Cara on guitar and vocals.

All in all, whether she's playing with a band or solo, in front of many or a few, her mission continues to be the same, to bring people together and make them feel good. It can be said there is really no difference between her day and night jobs, as music, no matter the context, is in itself therapeutic to both the player and the listener. For herself, the most important thing is she has fun doing it, and enjoys constantly improving her craft, learning and growing through time. She hopes others listening to the music reflect in similar ways.

"My hope is that people can be in the moment if they're out listening to me live.  The best compliment is when someone comes up to me after a gig and says, 'We had a great night!' Rather than hoping people think about me, the musician, it's the coolest when the music goes full circle and makes and audience think about his/her own life."

Cara Brindisi indeed has a long future in front of her, but one that is largely unpredictable, as most music careers are, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

"I have no idea what the future holds for me, and that's the best part!  I am loving that I am able to do what I want to do today, tonight, and tomorrow, and I'll keep taking things as they come.  Whether it's an opportunity, a lesson learned, or a new person to meet."

In the end, all she knows is she just wants to keep it fun.

For more information on Cara Brindisi, like future concert dates, or to listen to her music, click here, or like her on Facebook.


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