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Reunions and impromptu performances at annual 'Vomitorium' show in New Haven this Thanksgiving Eve

Annual “Vomitorium” Show in New Haven spews music and impromptu performances on Thanksgiving Eve
Kathleen Cei
Courtesy Photo
Dean Falcone (right) came up with "Vomitorium" as a way to make music and reconnect with old friends.

The turkey is thawing and the side dishes are ready, so if you are looking for something to do on the night before Thanksgiving, New Haven’s Cafe Nine hosts the 26th annual Vomitorium concert. The gross-sounding show has become a tradition in the Elm City.

New Haven guitarist Dean Falcone came up with the idea for the annual concert way back in 1990, when he agreed to a gig in Essex on Christmas Eve and Christmas night.

“I was dreading it,” said Falcone. “I had some friends in town, because everyone comes home for the holidays, and they came to see us, and they ended up playing all night with us, and we had the best time. And I thought, ‘Let’s do this every year.’”

For a while, the holiday reunion/rock ’n’ roll show didn’t have an official name, and it bounced from venue to venue. Twenty-six years ago, Falcone renamed the event “Vomitorium” (yes, there is a story about that, so read on) and since 2009, the event has been held at Cafe Nine in New Haven.

Falcone described the show as a “free-for-all,” as musicians and audience members alike are called onstage to participate.

“It’s really loose, and everybody knows it’s not a rehearsed thing. There’s a run-through the night before for anybody who might be a little nervous about their song,” said Falcone. “But other than that, it’s just people trying to get through their song, and there is a lot of empathy.”

Annual “Vomitorium” Show in New Haven spews music and impromptu performances on Thanksgiving Eve
Kathleen Cei
Courtesy Photo
Dean Falcone (right) describes "Vomitorium" as a "free-for-all."

Wrong notes and forgotten lyrics are all part of the fun of the evening, according to Falcone. But the loosely based format allows for some interesting new discoveries.

“Last year, somebody wanted to do “Live Forever” by Oasis, and the middle part of the song seemed very much like “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin,” explained Falcone. So I started playing Zeppelin, and the bass player caught on, he starts singing the Zeppelin song over the Oasis song, so it was like a live mashup.”

Falcone says the annual show started being called “Vomitorium” after a patron at one of the first concerts was overserved, and well, you can guess what happened. Vomitorium #26 gets underway Wednesday evening at Cafe Nine in New Haven.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.
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