As a teenager, I moved with my family from California to New Haven. My family had deep roots here in Connecticut. This is where my grandparents first immigrated to from Italy — and where my dad first moved to from Puerto Rico.
When it came time for college, I decided to stay in Connecticut. At Trinity College in Hartford, I focused on American Studies with a concentration on Latin Americans in the U.S. After college, I did spend some time in Los Angeles as well as New York. But eventually, I decided to come back to Connecticut…this is just where I feel most at home.
New Haven has been great for me as a musician. Not only is it more affordable (I’m paying half the rent of NY or LA!), it’s super energizing.
You don’t have to be in New York to be part of a vibrant music scene. We have an inspiring community of artists here. There’s a hip-hop community, a folk community, jazz, indie rock – everything you’d find in a major city. The New Haven music scene is just much more welcoming. And because it’s smaller, it’s much easier to stand out as an artist.
I even run an internationally known record label out of Connecticut called Fake Four. While we work with artists all over the world, we also work with a lot of local artists who have so much to offer. It gives me a great sense of hometown pride.
So many touring musicians also come to town. You can usually see any musician in New Haven that you’d see in New York. Our music venues are great. Café 9 is where I cut my teeth; it was the first place I booked a show in Connecticut. The State House and College Street Music Hall are other top places to see local and national artists.
The food! Even though I’m vegan, there’s a lot for me here. A newer spot I love is Too Caribbean Style. It’s a Jamaican vegan restaurant. And of course, when you’re from New Haven everyone asks about the pizza – Sally’s Apizza is my favorite. I order mine with just sauce and hot cherry peppers and it’s one of the best pizzas you can have. My favorite bar is Three Sheets. It has incredible food and lots of options too.
I’ve had the opportunity to use my music to make a social impact. I’ve done a lot of work to support the rights of immigrants. I’ve taught guitar lessons for immigrant children and played at events to support a family in danger of deportation.
One of the most rewarding ways I give back is through an event called Hip Hop for the Homeless. Every December for the past six years we’ve held up to 10 concerts to benefit local shelters. We gather 12-15 Connecticut artists and work together to put on great shows while giving back to the community.
Connecticut isn’t just all suburbs and quaint towns. We have exciting urban experiences with great culture and diversity. Everything you could possibly need and want is here. Better yet, you can afford to maintain that kind of lifestyle.