By MIKE CHAIKEN
In his hometown of Bristol, Joe Archambeault said he was best known as a top-notch baseball pitcher in his younger days.
Now, he is best known across the country as JJ Midnight, the front man of the band Celebrating Queen.
And later this month, Archambeault will take to the stage of the Memorial Boulevard School theater as his musical alter-ego—along with two other Bristolites— his brother Carl (i.e. CJ Midnight) and Shawn Fitzgerald—to give a shot in the arm to his hometown’s art scene.
Currently, there is an effort to resurrect the now empty school as an arts center for the city. In addition to Celebrating Queen, which pays tribute to the English band Queen, the Yale Whiffenpoofs take to the stage the following weekend—accompanied by choral groups from all three city high schools.
“I wanted to be part of (this effort) because I’m from Bristol,” said Archambeault, who made his mark on the baseball diamond as a pitcher going 28-5 for the American Legion team. “Memorial Boulevard School was a great place for us when we were younger… I always looked in that auditorium as just a wonderful place.”
Archambeault said he became involved with the project when he read about the efforts while he was staying in Florida. “I just thought it would be cool,” said Archambeault. And he knew he was going to have some available dates for the band. “It was just an opportunity that was staring us in the face.”
“(The concert is) just a great opportunity to go into my hometown and make a difference,” said Archambeault.
Archambeault said Memorial Boulevard carries many memories. “First of all,” Archambeault quipped, “Seventh and eighth grade there were the four toughest years of my life.”
Also, he said, “My sister Elizabeth…was in ‘South Pacific’ there. Carl and Carol, the twins, had done so much there. Memorial Boulevard school is a very special place. To do what we can to help Bristol grow, flourish, thrive, is an honor.”
Archambeault also is excited about bringing his talented band to the stage in his hometown. In addition to his brother, on “voicestravarius” and Fitzgerald on guitars, Celebrating Queen includes Queen’s guitarist Jamie Moses as well as Tommy Williams, who plays with The Hooters and who once was the music director for Debbie Gibson.
The rest of the band includes Chris Good from London on bass and John Cappadona from New York City on drums.
When the fans come out to the show, said Archabeault, they can expect “Rock and roll baby… They can expect big vocals from myself and the guys behind me. They can expect us to sound a lot like Queen did live. We put on a very energetic show with a wall of sound, wall of vocals, and they can expect hear the hits.
“We’re going to put on a show,” said Archambeault. “We’re going to validate Memorial Boulevard School theater as a wonderful place to have shows,” he said.
Putting in a pitch for the show, Archambeault said, “I want to say hello to all of my friends and family. Come on out to see a great show. If you’re a Queen fan, do yourself a favor to see this.”
Celebrating Queen plays the Memorial Boulevard School theater on Saturday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $29, $22 for students. Go to TicketLeap.com or visit Barley Vine, Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, Hamelin & Sons, Edgewood Market, or City True Value Hardware Store for tickets.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.