Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked that, "Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting some on yourself."
Wethersfield singer and guitarist Sal Basile has been living the truth of that saying for many decades.
Countless audiences have benefited from his love affair with music. And they send it right back to him, following him from venue to venue, which has made him one of the most popular entertainers in the state.
Basile was born in Calabria and came to America at age three on the Andrea Doria, which sank three years later. Music has always enriched his life.
"I was 14 years old when I started thinking about singing and playing," says Basile.
It enthralled him, he said, listening to his father's high tenor voice as he sang Italian love songs to his mother.
"He played on an old guitar brought over from Italy by my uncle," he recalls. "It sunk into me."
When Elvis and the Beatles rocked the music world in the 1950s and 1960s, he was completely hooked.
"I taught myself how to play the guitar," said Basile, who hung out with other guitar players in his dorm freshman year at UConn, picking out tunes by James Taylor, Neil Young, and others who were popular during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"By the time I finished college, I had enough of a repertoire of music that I would play for gatherings of grad students and other groups, where I got experience and feedback," he recalls.
"I was in my mid-30s when I saw an advertisement on a music store panel that said if you were interested in playing with a band to take a sticker, so I did," he said.
That led to his first professional work with a folk-rock band. It played soft folk rock songs made popular by the Bee Gees, Crosby Stills and Nash, Air Supply, and others.
"We started in nursing homes," he said. "The first was the Hillside Avenue Nursing Home, in Hartford. Then we did a show for senior citizens, and we had a great time."
Soon, the group added a base player, and they called the band Diversion.
"Our first big gig was a fundraiser at the school where I was teaching [Quirk Middle School on Albany Avenue, in Hartford] in '88 or '89," he said.
Later, they recorded two big concerts on VH1 tape. After that came more gigs, including a fundraiser at Bulkeley High School, appearances at local restaurants, and benefits for the food bank and the VFW, in Rocky Hill. Basile was also teaching and coaching when he decided to go for his master's degree at Trinity. It became hard to keep the band together.
But the good things in his life were just beginning. In 1989, he met the other love of his life. Mimi was a secretary at Bulkeley, where Basile was now teaching English, and they were introduced by a mutual friend.
"He was a happy guy, always with a guitar, and I said to myself, 'What's wrong with him? I want some of that always happy,'" Mimi recalls.
It did not take long.
"Right away, he wanted to know what I was doing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday … we went to a baseball game, a concert, and then a movie; and he booked me for about the whole year," she said.
Music was again involved when, on July 9, the couple was on the beach at Rocky Neck. Mimi gave Sal a card that bore on the outside a reproduction of a Maxfield Parrish painting of a beautiful naked woman sitting on a rock with stars in the sky. Inside, the lyrics of a beautiful song instantly resonated with Basile. The song ended with the line, "With you in the distance, I am."
After she read the card to him, he said, "Will you marry me?" And she said, "Of course." In 1991, the song, Contigo Enladisco, became their wedding song. Since then, Basile has been singing Italian love songs and more to Mimi – the cycle completed. She is always part of his performances, even when she is not present.
Meanwhile, Bill, from the Diversion band, had put together another band, called the Blues Rockers, with a guy named Dave Spitzer and a lead guitarist also named Sal. Basile joined that group, the other guitarist dropped out, and Sal, Bill, and Dave became Triple Play. They were together for several years, playing restaurants and events, and then Sal and Dave decided to branch out into a duo called Dually Noted.
Dually Noted is still going strong, and Basile also performs solo at regular venues - now that he has retired from teaching. He has a strong fan base that includes family, friends, his church group, and just about anybody who has heard him play. He is quick to credit them all for his success.
"I have been privileged to play for my camping buddies at different events, like New Year's Eve and our parties, as well as long summer weekends at Privacy Campground in the Berkshires, for the last 15 years or so," he said. "And my solo gig groupies from Trinity Church, in Wethersfield, my family, and my summer camp friends at Suffield Academy are awesome."
"Playing duo with my friend, Dave, in Dually Noted is a highlight of my life every time," said Basile, who appears to enjoy each performance as much as his audiences.
He explains that with a shout out of love to his father, "who showed me with his voice and guitar the beauty and power of music!"
Dually Noted plays at Oct. 28 For the Halloween party at St. James Parish Hall, in Higganum, and on Nov. 3 at the Irish American Home, in Glastonbury.
Visit Basile's Facebook page at https://facebook.com/salvatorebasile.9693.
Basile performs solo at the Three Figs, in Suffield, on Oct. 19 and the Pine Loft, in Berlin, on Oct. 20.
He will perform a classic oldies solo concert Nov. 4 at Trinity Church, in Wethersfield, and his schedule this year for the Big E in Springfield, Masachusetts is Sep. 29 from 10 to 11 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m., and Oct. 1 from 10 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. This is his third year at the Big E.