It's not uncommon for people to come to LaSalle Market & Deli for its Friday night acoustic night, but when patrons heard live music at lunchtime Thursday it was a complete surprise.
"I betcha they were (surprised)," said Artie Johnson, 21, of Bristol, a guitarist and singer for FAVARH band Perfect Flaws who participated in a 1 p.m. flash mob the Canton organization planned.
During a set that lasted slightly less than an hour, the band tackled music from Johnny Cash and The Beatles to Bob Dylan. The room was packed, patrons sang along and there was thunderous applause.
Bandmate Christian Lawson, 38, of Avon, said, " I think it was a very good experience. I was glad to be with my friends again."
He's been playing keyboard for 30 years. Nicknamed "The Maestro," Lawson said that his mom "actually played keyboard and guitar since I was very young and I wanted to follow in her footsteps."
Johnson has been playing guitar for a few years, taking lessons from Josh Black in the Farmington Valley.
FAVARH Creative Arts Coordinator Rick Stanton launched the band with them about a year ago. Their first public performance was opening for FAVARH's United Theater Ensemble, which has a show coming up at Canton High School this spring about the real meaning of life.
When asked how they picked Perfect Flaws as a band name, Stanton said, "It comes from the idea of being human."
Stanton and Johnson chose the songs and the three band members alternated singing lead.
One of the songs Johnson sang was "Bleed Red," which he said teaches people "we all have to be able to learn from the mistakes we make.... We don't want our hearts to break."
FAVARH Residential Program Assistant Tanya Coles-Dailey went to Stanton with an idea to organize a performance in collaboration with the organization for a project she was working on for her music and empowerment class at Springfield College. He suggested adding the flash mob element.
"It's about how the music impacts people together," she said of the class and project.
Coles-Dailey encouraged fellow FAVARH employees to come, watch and record the performance on their iPhones to be submitted for a final video.
Johnson and Lawson are part of the FAVARH program, which helps "children and adults with intellectual abilities achieve their personal best since 1958," according to the organization's website.
"I like it a lot," Johnson said.
FAVARH Executive Director Steve Morris said that the flash mob fit well with the organization's mission to help people fulfill their goals and live more independent lives.
"I think it's great. Mostly I'm impressed with LaSalle's and the Collinsville/Canton community for being so receptive of them," Morris said.
Perfect Flaws will have more shows in the future and is available for gigs. For more information, contact Stanton at firstname.lastname@example.org.