Parksville music fest breathes new life into the Dead End Cafe

Music lovers of all ages can come out to hear local groups perform opera, jazz, Broadway and more once a month at the Dead End Café in Parksville as part of the Parksville USA Music Festival.

Performances are held on the first or second Sundays of each month, and feature a variety of local artists: the Coyote Anderson Quartet, the Hudson Valley String Quartet, Lydia Adams Davis and the Lyric Quartet. The festival line-up includes a few special themed shows, including a November tribute to the late Pete Seeger called “Folk and Country Music That Made a Difference.” 

The next performance in the lineup will be on Saturday, June 7, and will feature the Lyric Quartet -- now with a few new members -- singing Viennese operetta and Broadway musical numbers. 

The Parksville music fest has also spawned a more laid-back Friday night dinner and music series, "Friday Nights at the Dead End Café," featuring jazz, blues, country and folk. This Friday, May 30, the series kicks off with a special appearance by bluesman Slam Allen, who will play shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. 

Dead End Cafe owner Tom Caltabellotta says the only genre of music he doesn’t touch is rock, due to “lack of experience.”

Caltabellotta founded the festival in 2013 in honor of his late wife, Michelle. Together, the couple made up half of the original Lyric Quartet, with Caltabellotta singing Baritone and Michelle accompanying on the piano to a repertoire of Broadway and opera classics. In 1989, the couple founded the Dead End Café, now closed as a year-round restaurant but still carrying on Tom and Michelle's vision of a place for live music and neighborhood camaraderie.

“She was the best person, just the best possible person,” Caltabellotta said. “We never fought. The only thing that could make us fight was the restaurant.”

In her memory, Caltabellotta says he’d love to see the festival grow and continue. For years to come, he’d like to see people crowding the recital hall he built himself inside the cafe the couple co-owned for nearly 20 years.

“I’d like to live forever, but I can’t,” Caltabellotta says. “I do hope someone will carry this on and keep the music in Parksville.”

Caltabellotta said he hopes to establish a scholarship in Michelle’s honor for aspiring young accompanists to study their craft.

Parksville USA Music Festival. First or second Sunday of the month, April through December, at the Dead End Café, 6 Main Street, Parksville. Tickets are $17 in advance, $20 at the door. For a full lineup of performances in the Parksville USA Music Festival, see the group's Facebook page or visit their website at