Locals this week will kick off a beloved summer tradition with a twist.
On Thursday, the same night that the popular Waveny Summer Concert Series begins, New Canaanites will have the option of hearing another band play on the front lawn of Town Hall—a brand-new event conceived months ago by First Selectman Rob Mallozzi that officials say offers a different venue and experience to the established Waveny series.
“The location is perfect for a summer gathering,” Mallozzi said of the Town Hall event, which will run 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and feature the Norwalk-based Summertime Band. “With so many restaurants, ice cream shops and other businesses nearby, I hope our residents will come down and take advantage of all this area of town has to offer.”
From 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. the same night, original folk rock musician Kenn Morr will entertain the crowd behind the balcony out back of Waveny House.
“He played last year and really impressed,” said Recreation Director Steve Benko, head of the department that organizes the Waveny Summer Concert Series (see the full schedule here), presented again this summer by Bankwell.
The six-man Summertime Band plays swing, rock n’ roll, classic rock, funk, doo wop, standards and a capella. Both concerts are free and residents are invited to bring foldout chairs and picnics to enjoy the evening.
The same-night performances came about by accident, officials say. Typically, the Waveny series takes place on Wednesday nights. According to Benko, there are typically five Wednesdays in June—but this month started on a Thursday, and a local organization had already reserved a Wednesday event in Waveny House, pushing the first concert of the summer to Thursday. Benko said he didn’t realize that the first selectman had already scheduled the Town Hall concert.
Leo Karl, chairman of the New Canaan Community Foundation’s board of directors, said the nonprofit organization is “proud to support” the Wednesday, June 28 performance by the band Gunsmoke as part of the Waveny Summer Concert Series.
“Our Foundation loves any event that brings together a wide cross section of our community and the summer concerts are a great example. As ‘the Hub for local Philanthropy,’ our Community Foundation helps to connect local individuals with causes and organizations that they care about. Collectively, we bring residents together to provide both financial and volunteer service to our neighbors in need. And sometimes, like the summer concerts, we just like to bring our community together for a good time.”
Steve Karl, vice president of Karl Chevrolet, a longtime sponsor of the Waveny concerts, said the Elm Street dealership and repair shop looks forward every year to the series.
“It has become one of the great summer traditions in our town,” he said. “Steve Dayton and the Recreation Department always select a great lineup of bands, so the music is outstanding and of course the venue is spectacular. The evenings provide the perfect setting for a family outing, meeting a group of friends, or even a date night to catch up with that special someone. When you are there enjoying a nice evening, a light breeze blowing, the music playing, and the sun setting in the distance, it is truly a magical place to be. And it can only be experienced here in New Canaan.”
Mallozzi has said the idea for the Town Hall front lawn concert—paid for out of the first selectman’s economic development funds ($4,000 for the current fiscal year, see page 19 here)—came to him during the grand opening of Town Hall in September 2015 and then again last July when the 77 Main St. property hosted a Peruvian Independence Day celebration.
According to Benko, the first Waveny concert of the year generally sees about 300 to 500 attendees—a modest figure, with school still in session, he said—while concerts afterwards will draw up to 700 or 800 people.
“We had nice crowds all last year,” Benko said.