Helium Brothers Land In Westport

Toad’s Place may be Connecticut’s favorite indoor music venue.

But that’s New Haven. Westport once had live music too. Anyone living here in the 1970s and early ’80s remembers 3 great spots: Grassroots. Players Tavern. Tin Whistle.

Each was different. Grassroots was a folk-oriented coffee house next to National Hall (then Fairfield Furniture), on the Post Road just over the river.

Players Tavern was a rockin’ place, with great bands and a less-than-observant attitude toward things like legal IDs.

Tin Whistle was a restaurant/bar (now the site of Westport Hardware Mumbai Times), with a variety of music.

This undated menu from Players Tavern mentions upcoming gigs by Papa John Creach, James Montgomery, Pat Metheny , James Cotton, Gil Scot Heron, Dave Edmonds, Nick Lowe -- and the Helium Brothers.

This undated menu from Players Tavern mentions upcoming gigs by Papa John Creach, James Montgomery, Pat Metheny , James Cotton, Gil Scot Heron, Dave Edmonds, Nick Lowe — and the Helium Brothers. (Click on or hover over to enlarge.)

Nowadays, you can hear live music on Bobby Q’s roof (in summer), the Black Duck (occasionally), and the Levitt Pavilion (but that’s not the same).

And, from time to time, at places like the Unitarian Church.

Every so often, they sponsor the Voices Cafe coffeehouse. There’s one this Saturday (November 14, 8 p.m.). What makes it “06880”-worthy is that the headline act is the Helium Brothers.

Thejazz/bluegrass/country/rock group has been around for 40 years. Recently, they performed a reunion show at Toad’s Place.

But they’re no strangers to Westport. Back in the day, they opened for former resident Johnny Winter.

And they performed regularly at — yes — Grassroots, Players Tavern and Tin Whistle.

Whatever goes around, comes around.

Even if it’s helium, brother.

Helium Brothers

13 responses to “Helium Brothers Land In Westport

  1. I wasn’t living here then, but saw Bonnie Raitt at Players Tavern – I’m guessing 1974….

  2. Norbie Longman

    Speaking of Toad’s, be on the lookout for when they may have Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Jukebox again. They do current popular songs cast into older styles. Energy and talent are over 100%. Singers, humor, tap dancing, piano impromptus, a (blow-your-mind) tambourine guy, and generally heart heart HEART. It’s sort of Vaudeville.

  3. Thanks for this post, Dan. Greatly appreciated.

  4. Wasn’t there a “Disco” on the Post Road next to a golf course between Regents Park and Lansdowne? Anyone remember that? I snuck out with a friend we were 13 years old! Her mother caught us before we had a chance to “experience” the experience! Memorable!

    • I think the Nines Club was over there. Some name groups did perform there in the mid-60s.

      • Yep – The Nines Club, in the former skating rink next to the miniature golf course, driving range and Ed Hall’s “Jumpin’ Gyminy” (sp?) trampoline place. It was owned by orchestra leader Lester Lanin, as he branched out into discotheques in the winter of 1967. Very short-lived, but among the bands that played there were the Youngbloods, ? and the Mysterians (“96 Tears”) and Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels.

        Lester Lanin’s people “hired” a ton of us Long Lots Junior High kids to help construct the place. Our payment was going to be free admission. Then they wouldn’t let us in because we were too young. Those were the days.

  5. For us post-’70s late-comers to the Westport music scene, 323 Restaurant has fantastic live jazz every Thursday night.

  6. Bill Whitbeck

    Going by a couple dates listed (Monday Sept 11, and Thursday Sept 21), it would put it in 1972, judging by the groups listed. Oh, I remember those places so well! Wasn’t there a large tree growing inside Players Tavern that went up through the roof…? I seem to recall that

  7. Tin Whistle was in the current Mumbai Times restaurant, not Westport Hardware.

  8. WoW… Those were the DAZE!

  9. Much appreciation from all the Helium Brothers, Dan, for this fantastic look back at some fantastic places and times.

  10. dan nice story!

    do you know the names of these (helium) guys? Roger

    Roger Kaufman rzktroger@aol.com

  11. Notice that “Chezbro” was the band for Saturday night. The always rocked the ‘Vern. A few of the band members are still around and actively performing.