By Tommy Pollio
When I walk into a room, whether it’s in a friends home, a restaurant, or bar, one of the first things to resonate with me are the sounds that occupy the space. Is it the friendly chatter of guests, the noises of someone cooking in the kitchen, the television in the background, or perhaps if I’m lucky enough…, music?
To some, maybe that’s too dramatic to say, but I try not to take music for granted. It’s too special to me; too dear to my heart, do I dare say, sacred.
To be clear, I am not a musician myself or music professional; but an avid fan. The vibrations that fill a room can be subtle and sweet or strong and distinctive. Background or center stage, depending on what and whom is being played (and at what volume of course).
But why is it so important to me you may ask? The music we listen to is the soundtrack of our lives. Oldies to indie and everything in between. It could be a motivator, an anthem, a love song, or something that makes us feel good or conjure a memory. As Frank Turner said, “I still believe that everyone, can find a song for every time they’ve lost and every time they’ve won.” There’s a song out there for every person in every situation; a song that speaks to them and evokes emotion and I think when you find that, it can be magical.
I’m often asked about the music I play at the Pasta Shop. I’m happy to say I make the playlists and I enjoy making them very much so. It’s never left to chance. The music is too crucial to me to not curate it specially for our audience, and ourselves. What I mean is, these playlists consist of not only songs that embody the sentiment and vibe I want to create and exemplify here in the shop, but are also songs I enjoy listening to while I work. I want the music we play to be interesting, enjoyable, and unexpected. The selections can vary and I find it especially gratifying to juxtapose different genres to keep the listeners engaged. This also allows for our diners to be exposed to a diverse lineup of artists and styles, which in turn, has the ability to be more relevant and appealing.
Tunes that we have all heard too many times on the radio can be boring and stale, even if they are amazing pieces of music in their own right. That’s not appealing to me.
I’m hungry for a song that may be catchy or fresh, possibly one that can get your foot tapping, but also something that’s not easily recognizable. Maybe it’s a composition you’ve never heard before or perhaps it will remind you of a song or artist you’re familiar with or enjoy. Maybe it’s reminiscent of a time or place. Music is truly incredible and has the power to spark a conversation or even stop you dead in your tracks. The deep cuts are often the best tracks on an album. The lesser known songs that the real fans know and crave. The amazing, obscure, and esoteric songs that are hidden behind the hits.
To me the music selection at a restaurant is vital, and almost as important as the items on the menu. The music sets the tone and atmosphere in a room and can make a space feel alive and electric with energy . Next time you’re in a restaurant, if you’re fortunate enough, maybe you’ll hear a new band, or even an old Elvis song. Maybe the melodies will put you in a good mood even if it’s an artist or group you’re unfamiliar with or unaccustomed too. In the words of Etta James, “The two things you can’t fake are good food and good music.”
Tommy Pollio grew up in Denville, and spent years moving around the USA working for great chefs and learning his craft. He is Co-Owner and Chef at The Pasta Shop.