The Town of Greenwich, Connecticut, has many blessings, and one of them certainly is the annual Greenwich Town Party, which was held this past Sunday, September 5. And what a blessing it was!
Forced by COVID to be canceled last year and rescheduled from its traditional Memorial Day slot, the 10th annual GTP was a much needed shot in the arm (pun intended), for a Greenwich community aching to get out and celebrate the glory of being alive together.
Rain dampen their spirit? Fuhgeddaboudit! What the heck; party on!
With children’s activities and local food vendors kicking the event off at 10:00 AM, and live music performances running constantly from 11:00 in the morning to 10:00 at night, the GTP is a music-lover’s dream. As such, it is exactly the vision that Barbara and Ray Dalio, the event’s inspirers, sought to achieve in replicating the tradition of large parties held by the great cities and towns of Europe which the family, and Barbara in particular, had come to know and love.
Ray’s father, Marino Dalio, was a jazz musician, and Ray grew up to love music of all sorts. So it was natural that Greenwich’s town party would feature great music. And with their contacts in the world of music, the Dalios helped ensure that GTP music would be truly awesome.
Helen and I arrived in time to see Greenwich native Caroline Jones perform on the main stage. What a wonderful experience. Growing up, our two girls were classmates with Caroline and her younger sister, and we have watched Caroline transform from a young girl to a folk artist-composer to a full-blown country music star and composer, with her own unique style and presence. The crowd absolutely loved her, and it will be fun to watch her career continue to soar, so that we can say “we knew her when!”
Next up was the band Happy Accidents, featuring Michael Mugrage, Mark Zelenz and Greenwich resident Annie Seem, performing original music and covers of classic songs. True to their name, the band kept the crowd’s spirits up and flying.
At around 3:00 PM, Ray Dalio took to the stage to introduce one of his favorite bands of all time, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, featuring his good friend Charlie Gabriel. The band delighted the audience with its outstanding energy, rhythm, variety, virtuosity and even some mischievous humor. No laid-back, drawing room style jazz was this; we were all blown away by the big, bold, brassy sound of saxophones, trumpets and trombones combining, clashing and raising the (metal) rafters with their glorious sound. Individual solos showcased the exceptional genius of these performers, including the drummer and keyboard artist. Ray promised that they would “put a smile on everyone’s face,” and they certainly did. What a treat.
Shane Kirsch and his band Rang-A-Boom played next with a great mix of funk, blues and rock to pick up where the PHJB left off, keeping the (increasingly rain soaked) party going strong!
Then, at 5:00, the Zac Brown Band took the main stage and an explosion of great fun ensued. Joined by Caroline Jones, the group played a mix of their own hits (which everyone in the audience seemed to know by heart) and covers of songs by Billy Joel, Elton John and others, which absolutely delighted the crowd. As hard as it tried, the rain could not make a dent in the singing, dancing and fun.
Longtime Greenwich resident Charlie King performed next with the band The Next Big Thing. We’ve known Charlie and his family for many years, and it never ceases to impress us that our town contains so many multi-talented people. Charlie gave an absolutely top-notch performance which included original music that many in the crowd knew by heart and sang right back in defiance of the ever-threatening rain. No one, and no thing, was going to stop the fun.
And then, about 8:00, came the main attraction. The Eagles. No need to say more. What an exceptional gift to be able to listen to a band that helped craft an era of music that defined the lives of so many in the audience of a certain age, and that also captivates the attention of subsequent generations. If music is a language, then it is the lingua franca of generations. Hit after hit they played, inviting the crowd to sing along, which it did with gusto. When the stage lights first went down, we knew the show was not over, as we had not yet heard “Hotel California.”
Once we did, and the show was truly over, we all traipsed through the shoe-trapping mud toward our respective destinations. The rain, and the mud, and the (unfortunately common) trash on the ground reminded us of Woodstock. Perhaps GTP 2021 should be called “Greenwichstock.” It certainly was that memorable.
So what exactly is this Greenwich “attitude?” Certainly, it includes a mixture of community, conviviality, joy in collective celebration, and weather resistance. But at its core, the attitude is one of gratitude. Gratitude for the vision that gave birth to the GTP, appreciation for the initial and continuing support of Ray and Barbara Dalio for this terrific gift to our community, kudos and thanks to the citizens and friends that worked so hard to make it happen (at the risk of leaving out many important contributors, special shout-outs to GTP co-president Ray Rivers for organizing the event, and to Scot Weicker and his team for pulling off event logistics that would give the US Army Corps of Engineers a run for their money), and showers of thanks to the performers and their crews who helped make “a soggy day in Greenwich-town” one we will never forget.