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From Free Chicken & Beer to The Steve Polezonis Trio

Free Chicken & Beer Blues Band

When you're right, you're right. Last year, when the Free Chicken & Beer Blues Band was left off the first annual Grand Band Slam ballot, drummer and band leader Jim Mack was decidedly unhappy. He took his case to fans via the Web:

"Do you feel insulted that the Valley Advocate feels its readers would not be able to come up with their own choices for their favorite bands and musicians? Picture some editor in a little cubicle, scanning past Advocate issues for band names to add to his lit of choices for the best bands and musicians in the Valley. Now picture the music-loving public circling this editor's choices as their own. What an ugly picture! When the ballots are in, and all those little circles are tabulated, the accompanying article is going to say that the Valley music fans made these choices. Is this what we want?"

Mack, also known as Jim McNamara of Springfield's Tic Toc lounge, waged an unsuccessful sticker campaign for the blues crown, This year, Free Chicken made the ballot and proved it had belonged there all along. That's not so surprising. Not only does the band feature Mack's widely lauded drumming skills, it's also much loved as the house band at the Tic Toc, where its freewheeling blues jam sessions are always well-attended and consistently a mountain of fun. You made your point, Jim.

Since the Valley Advocate's Grand Band Slam in July 2000, the band was the house band at the relocated Tic Toc until it's closure in 2003. They've played the Berlin Blues Festival as well as the Terryville Fair and private parties and have played at Black-eyed Sally's as part of the CT. Blues Society's Blues Challenge.

Free Chicken & Beer has included Jim McNamara, Tom Mont, Dallas Harkless, Les Cooke, Jay Maggi, Bob Toriani, Sante Isopo, Patty Tuitte, Wendy Mancini, Craig Pearce and Paul Bilodeau.

The Steve Polezonis Trio

Steve is continuing the tradition in Connecticut today. The Steve Polezonis Trio is in full swing as of January 2010 playing venues familiar to blues fans as well as some new ones. The Trio features "west coast lounge blues", an amalgam of blues based music: classic Chicago blues, swing blues, jazz, country and blues/rock fusion from the great American song catalog (with a couple of Brit tunes thrown in!) as well as originals. The Blues, in its many iterations, is alive and well in Connecticut and Steve plans to do his part, along with his friends, to keep it that way!

The Steve Polezonis Trio features:

Steve (guitars, harp, trumpet and vocals) and Keith Burns (upright bass, Fender bass and vocals).

Keith Burns has been playing bass since the early '90's-most notably with the Crosby Tyler Quartet(Crosby Tyler, Bohemian records) in the Greater Los Angeles area during 1993-94. It was in this environment where a knowledge and appreciation of "west coast lounge blues" took hold. Keith is a classically trained vocalist and was a lead cantor in Sierra Madre, CA from 1992-96. Keith was second call bass player for the Derek James Band from 2002-2005. Today Keith continues his musical studies with Michael Corsini (graduate of the Hartford Conservatory of Music and bass/vocals with Eight to the Bar) as well as a local vocal coach. Keith's strengths in vocal harmonies and transcribing form one of the the cornerstones of the Steve Polezonis Trio sound.

With the "semi-retirement" of original drummer Leslie Sandoval the Trio utilizes the talents of several drummers/percussionists, including Rick "Sir Richard" Burton, Josh Briley, Eric Hallenbeck, Gary Johnson, Mike Conlin and others.

Special guests such as The Enfield Horns (Sante Isopo and Wendy Mancini), Frank Lombardo, and others may sit in/fill in from time to time.

Free Chicken & Beer
Blues Band Of The Year 2000

- Valley Advocate

Tic Toc Lounge
Free Chicken & Beer Blues Band


Tic Toc Lounge


Jim McNamara


The Steve Polezonis Trio


Keith Burns