We are THE ALPACA GNOMES
AND HERE IS OUR STORY…
It all began in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport. Brennan’s Shebeen to be exact. It was there that 3 gnomes formed a group to be known as The Alpaca Gnomes. The first show in February of 2011 was a wide ranging mix of covers featuring Benny on acoustic guitar/vocals, Kimberly on violin and Matt Summ on percussion. The room was packed, like it would be many times over, with a mixture of dear, supportive friends and curious on-lookers.
Summ was known in the area as the drummer from local band Roamer. Benny had previously played in a band called Spiral City which had done some shows in the Black Rock area, namely Ray Kelly’s Pub, who’s namesake happened to be friends with Summ. Spiral City had ceased playing when a certain guitar player moved to Pittsburgh, but more on him in a little bit. Mike Gargano had been the drummer of Spiral City and he, Benny and a new bass player named Martin Van Buren Amidon IX had been playing some local gigs as a trio.
The Alpaca Gnomes played several gigs throughout 2011, and into 2012 mostly at Brennan’s Shebeen and a place called The Crooked Shillelagh in Branford. Kimberly would join Benny, Mike and Marty for some gigs as Benny Mikula & Friends including their first appearance at the Shelton Festival Soupstock.
In August of 2012 it all came together.
Benny, Mike, Marty and former Spiral City guitar player Chris CB Barry had played an annual charity event dubbed Light Up The Point, which raised money for Swim Across The Sound in memory of Thomas Lyddy, CB’s father-in-law. CB came back from Pittsburgh for the 2012 event and Kimberly joined them for the show. A month or so later CB moved back to CT and the band was fully formed as a 6 piece. The Alpaca Gnomes were complete…sort of.
Guests have been a theme of the band almost since its inception. As a matter of fact one Amy Grace sat in on trumpet at that very first Gnomes gig at Shebeen. Going forward this would be no different. Families come first and the music must go on! At the first gig of 2013 Matty Miklus of jam band Hubinger St. sat in on slide guitar for a packed show in the dark and cozy basement of Anna Liffeys. This 30 song three hour straight set would set the tone for the rest of the bands shows. Long and continuous. Two originals made the set list that night. A set opening “Roll Away” and a near the end of the set “Honey” which was followed by a soon to be show ending staple, “With a Little Help From My Friends.” The band spent the winter sharpening their live show and recording their debut album, which was released at Soupstock that June. The self titled album contained 9 originals, some which had been played by Spiral City prior to the formation of the gnomes. The Soupstock set featured original songs, Roll Away, Honestly, Just in Case and Honey and covers Wagon Wheel, Midnight Rider, and #41. A few days later the band played their first full band set at a relatively new Black Rock music spot, BRYAC. That night the band played an original set followed by a complete cover set of the Pearl Jam album “VS” and more. Sammy Blanchette of Hubinger St. sat in and alternated on guitar and bass w Marty. Both of the shows will live on in the land of Youtube.
A month later the band would play a set in Downtown Bridgeport at historic McLeevy Green for the Bridgeport Arts Fest. That set saw an opener of “Train Song” as well as “Breakaway”, “Just In Case” and “Honey”.
Later that summer the band would play an early set at SONO Arts Fest which included opening song “Down The Line”, “Breakaway”, “Just In Case”, “Train Song” and and often played at that time “Folsom Prison Blues” along with “#41” and “With A Little Help” to close it out. The Band was still getting their feet wet with the originals, shorter sets and on the bigger stages but the bar shows were nothing but a good time! Shortly after the one year mark of the band being together they played a 40 song set, with no setlist and Brennan’s Shebeen. Only two originals made that set, but many of the covers would be with the band over the years and the variety of tunes helped to build the following that the Gnomes are so grateful to have today. All in all in 2013 the band played the aforementioned festivals as well as Harbor Yard Brewfest which they have played every year since. The band performed at well known venues such as Toad’s Place and Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den. Many thanks to Matty Miklus for all his contributions in the first year. He played on our album, sat in and filled in on guitar and also filled in on Bass. Without his help it would have been difficult to make it through year one.
To Be Continued…
OUR PRESS KIT
The Alpaca Gnomes are a vibrant, stomp-and-groove, 7 piece original rock-folk jam band from Bridgeport, CT. The Gnomes ensemble currently features violin, electric & acoustic guitar,bass,drums,sax,and percussion.
The Alpaca Gnomes eclectic style has allowed them to appear on a multitude of bills with varied acts and musical genres such as Living Colour, Blues Traveler, Twiddle, DJ Logic, Funky Meters, Anders Osbourne, Railroad Earth, The Drifters, The Tokens, Rick Derringer, Soul Rebels, Roots of Creation, Kung Fu, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, Funky Dawgz Brass Band, Box Set Duo Trio, The Main Squeeze, as well as private events such as ESPN radios NCAA College Football National Championship pre-party in Pasadena, California.
The Alpaca Gnomes have built a loyal following of passionate fans, nicknamed “Gnomies", who often join the fun by rocking the band’s signature Gnome style hats during shows. The band rocks out many venues, festivals, and concert series including:
Venues: Infinity Music Hall (Norfolk) Toad's Place (New Haven), Fairfield Theatre Company Warehouse (Fairfield), Pacific Standard Tavern (New Haven), The Acoustic (Bridgeport), The Ballroom/Outer Space (Hamden), BRYAC (Bridgeport), Palace Theatre (Stamford), Levitt Pavillion (Westport), Electric Haze (Worcester, MA), Arlene’s Grocery (NYC), Olive’s (Nyack, NY), Mexicali Live (Teaneck, NJ).
Festivals: Pleasantville Festival(NY), Blues Views BBQ (Westport), international festival of arts & ideas(New Haven), Blues on the Beach(Stratford), Two Roads Brewery Road Jam (Stratford), Rock n Roll Resort(NY), Soupstock Music & Arts Festival, Just Joshin' Festival, Shuck & Jive, as well as numerous Summer Concert Series throughout Connecticut including Bridgeport, Hamden, Rowayton, Stratford, Huntington and Mamaroneck, NY.
We look forward to seeing you at a show and sharing in the experience!