John Fogerty, Hall & Oates Rock Out at Town Party
On what was undoubtedly the hottest day of the year so far, the annual Greenwich Town Party proved once again why it’s the hottest ticket in town.
The all-day party at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park featured six main stage acts and seven town stage acts. By the time the high temperature of 90 degrees passed its peak, John Fogerty, the leader of the late-sixties, early-seventies band Creedence Clearwater Revival and considered by many to be one of America’s greatest songwriters, was warming up to hit the main stage.
Before long, rock classics like “Green River,” “Fortunate Son,” “Looking Out My Back Door” and “Proud Mary” were firing up the crowd and reverberating across the water, their author in excellent voice 45 years after recording the songs.
Fogerty regaled the audience with tales of Woodstock—he and his band had come on stage after the Grateful Dead, at 2:30 a.m., when everybody was high, asleep, or both, he recalled.
Fogerty also noted that his son, Shane, playing guitar alongside him, had just graduated from USC with a 4.0 grade average. “Just goes to show, the apple can fall far from the tree,” Fogerty remarked. The town party coincided with Fogerty’s 71st birthday. His daughter presented him with a cake on stage, and his wife and manager, Julie, made a brief appearance.
Headlining the event were Daryl Hall and John Oates, who took the stage shortly after 8 p.m. and put on a show for nearly 5,000 people. Highlights included their seventies hits “She’s Gone,” “Sara Smile” and “Rich Girl.”
Tedeschi Trucks band, featuring singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi and her husband, Derek Trucks, enthralled their afternoon audience with their blues and soul-based rock. Tedeschi is renowned for her rich, bluesy voice and Trucks as a slide-guitar virtuoso. Their debut album, “Revelator,” won a Grammy for best blues album in 2012.
This year, general admission tickets for the sixth annual party sold out in about 20 minutes.
The 12-hour day officially kicked off with children’s activities at 10 a.m., followed by a performance of the Star Spangled Banner by Pamela Kuhn, but for Ray Rivers, co-president and director of development for the GTP, the day was years in the making.
The town party was born of an idea that Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio had while on a trip with his wife, Barbara, to Spain.
“Ray noticed that all the great towns in Europe had their own town party,” said Ray Rivers. “They would see everyone in the town participate in these parties. It was like the town shut down. Greenwich is a great town, so why not start a local town party movement in Greenwich?”
From there, Dalio set the wheels in motion to get the town party started.
In 2010, the GTP held its inaugural event, with blues guitarist Buddy Guy headlining.
The GTP team has since been bringing the community together with great music each Memorial Day weekend, though there have been minor road bumps along the way.
“In the first years, Ray Dalio made sure we could even have a party,” Rivers said. “The idea was that we wanted everyone to be able to come. We wanted to be a party for the community.”
Held at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, the town party in its first year only had a few dozen sponsors. This year, Rivers says, is the first in which the party has actually sold out of the sponsor tickets, reaching over 1,000 sponsors.
“I’m so happy to say we sold out of every sponsor ticket this year,” Rivers said. “We’ve really come a long way as a community, and they’ve embraced the message.”
Lions on the Moon with Bobby Paltauf and C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band rounded out this year’s main–stage acts.
On the town stage, Shane Kirsch & Rang-a-Boom, Charlie King and The Next Big Thing, Blue Avenue Groove with Elise Testone, Kalimur, Anitra Brooks, Echoes, and the John David Pinto all performed music ranging from jazz, funk to rock.
Over a dozen local food vendors kept the party going as the line for Longford’s Ice Cream seemed to be growing by the hour. Food vendors included Aux Delices, Fjord Fish Market, Bobby Q’s, Asiana Cafe, Mini-Melo, Bistro Versailles, Garden Catering, Mill Street Bar and Grill and many more.
Before the smell of fresh food surrounded party-goers, veterans from the Veterans of Foreign Wars passed out poppy flowers in honor of the Memorial Day weekend.
The Party also included a silent auction, which was held all weekend long. One lucky bidder won a guitar signed by Daryl Hall and John Oates and got to take a photo with them as well.
“There’s a way for everyone to participate,” Rivers said. “The party is greatly supported by volunteers and local businesses in the community. We also rely on our sponsors greatly.”
For the GTP organizers, the main ingredient for the party was undoubtedly the people who made up the event, whether volunteers, musicians, local vendors or just residents of Greenwich.
“One of our favorite stories is when we were told by a partygoer that they ended up dancing with the checkout girl from the grocery store,” Rivers said. “These are the people in our community and who make Greenwich great.”