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Meriden
Daffodil Festival
April 24-25, 2004
Hubbard Park Meriden, CT

Go to Daffodil Fest web site

Read our past 
festival reviews:
2003
(rain shortened,
no review)

2002
2001

Visit The Official
Meriden Daffodil
Festival Web Site
for information on all the following events & festivities!

General Info

Events

Arts & Crafts

Antique Show

Food

Volunteers

Directions

Photos

Home Page

Listen to music
from some of
this years performers:

The Furors
Strangers in Fiction
Something on You

James Velvet
I Got a Shirt
John Alley

The Swaggerts
Rockbottom
Shake

Mark Mulcahy
A Look For The Honey

The Manchurians
Storm Warning
All I Want

Frank Critelli
This Day
Blues #4

The High Lonesome Plains
Brass Ring (Nothing Lasts)
Porch Light

River City Slim and
The Zydeco Hogs

Creole Zydeco
Farmers Special
Un Autre Soir Ennuyant

Green Inside
Song For My Friends
Drown

*Special*
Last Year's
"
Most Listened To"
Daffodil performer
song sample

The Big Fat Combo
Chicks Dig It

* Special Bonus Song*

Sam The Clam
by: The Big Fat Combo

A Day At The Daff.
(a review of the 2004 Meriden Daffodil Festival)
by Gary Vollono
Daffod1.gif (7622 bytes)                            Daffod2.gif (7642 bytes)

I report on this year’s Meriden Daffodil Festival from a unique perspective; as that of a volunteer, in which I was asked to manage the Welcome stage. You see, the Festival, which has been held on the last weekend in April every year now for the past 26 years, has three stages of continuous music for 2 solid days, as well as everything that constitutes an old fashion town festival on the green. There’s amusement rides for the kids, arts & crafts, a parade, a road race, and a tent bigger than the parking lot which hosts more food vendors than I can count. The vendors sell everything from Belgium waffles, funnel cakes, and fried dough, to Philly cheese steaks, chocolate covered strawberries, and chowder in bread bowls! And that just scratches the surface. But, in my eyes, first and foremost it is the music (notice how I placed it last ;-), that makes this event.

I’ve been involved with the Daffodil Festival and its music coordinator – ThinManMusic label owner Rob DeRosa, for the past 4 festivals. It is through him that I came to volunteer. I can’t go on enough about the amount of time that the Daffodil Festival committee and all the volunteers give to help see to the success of this down-home community event. And through it all, there is the music.

That’s how I ended up standing on the Welcome stage at 10:00AM Saturday morning this past Apr. 24th introducing Buzz Gordo to the sound man and one or two people walking by. Buzz was one half of the duo advertised as the McCormack Brothers, the other half was stranded in Mass. due to knee surgery. So Buzz goes on solo and plays such an energetic set that the many, many people arriving at the fest in the shuttle buses did stop to take it in. With the beautiful sun shinning and a bit of the early spring nip in the wind it was a glorious day in Hubbard Park and here was a guy entertaining no one in particular, but presenting a show complete with batter and song intros as if the stands were packed. Buzz Gordo was having a wonderful time singing and playing guitar, and it was infectious. Barry the sound guy and I shot each other knowing smiles, because this was starting out to be one of those rare musical days - there were many surprises around the corner…

Before I continue I must explain that while the stage times of all the bands on the 3 stages are staggered, it is virtually impossible to see every band playing each day (though Rob makes sure to catch at least one song by every band). Therefore, I apologize to all the bands that played and I do not mention (well over half), but I just couldn’t juggle managing the Welcome stage while trying to catch a bit on the Food Tent Stage and the Band Shell stage. Though I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to, with a little help from the Welcome Stage, I managed to see most of them.

After Buzz Gordo, it was The Furors and now there were fannies in the seats (and I believe fannies is the appropriate word of choice, for surely it is a type of description that would wind up in a Furors song). With Derek Holcomb failing spastically about on his electric guitar, producing sounds that jumped to life, the late April winds began to blow. Meanwhile, sitting behind a completely oblivious Derek, is Tom Dans. Stoic as ever he attempted to keep the rhythm on his drums while holding the falling over mic and singing his harmonies - even as the ever forceful winds were knocking his symbols and stand into the drum kit - but play on they did, and it was grand.

1:00 brought a certain swagger to the festival, from New Haven The Swaggerts ripped open the day with a searing set of Rockabilly that had the Goths in attendance smiling. Suffice to say the Goths were out in force, and guess what? They were having a good time, and when a Rockabilly band has the Goths smiling, that’s when you know it’s a good time.

At 2:00 I walked through the Food tent where River City Slim and The Zydeco Hogs were tearing it up with their Cajun / Zydeco set. If a band with an accordion and washboard (after which, by the way, you will never look at washboards the same again), can get your feet tapping and head bobbin’ in a brief 5 minute stroll, I can imagine what the whole set must’ve done. I met up with Frank Critelli (musician and fellow volunteer), as I walked over to the Bandshell stage, where The Management had just finished wrapping up. Frank informed me that they were his new favorite band – “An adolescent Stones – They ROCKED”.  Checking and seeing that Green Inside was up next at 2:30, I made a note to drop back and catch some of their set. But first I needed to introduced Mark Mulcahy on my stage (yes, by now the festival of music was soaring, and I was feeding off the proud feeling I had about managing the Welcome Stage, so that I was now referring to it as “my stage”)…

I got back to the stage and ex-Saucer and Miracle Legion artist Mark Mulcahy (local legend) and his band (featuring old Miracle Legion band mates and currently of Frank Black’s Catholics) were setting up, it was 2:15 and fifteen minutes until I was needed to introduce them to a now gathering crowd. I decided to hit the bathroom and grab a bite. Returning with about 7 minutes before show time, I found Mark and the band beginning a song. As the tune slugged along and began to gather steam I walked over to “my” soundman Barry – “Getting a sound check?” “I guess so,” was Barry reply, “They didn’t say anything, but...” But, as Mulcahy and group continued to play it became evident that they were getting it going to a point that they weren’t stopping, and they didn’t. Song after song it became one of those special “one-of-a-kind” events where it just happens, and it did. I think those in attendance were astounded. Barry and I again smiled, the sun was high in the afternoon sky and this festival had just taken on that unique quality that only comes around so often in life, and it was good.

With the stands still abuzz over Mulcahy’s set, New Haven’s Godfather of rock James Velvet took the stage with the Mighty Catbirds and showed once again how roots rock ties together the vastness of the musical genres. At this point, having missed Green Inside, I took off to the Bandshell stage where The Reducers were shaking up the crowd on the great lawn with their original punk sounds of the 70s. I only caught 2 quick songs but it was appropriate with the way they were slamming ‘em down. It made me think of The Ramones and pogo-ing…ahh. Back at the Welcome stage the last half of the Catbirds set was a seminar on how great musicians work off each other. Dean Falcone on electric guitar, Dick Neal on mandolin, and Steve Combs on stand up bass walked in line with James’ rhythm. They coxed such beautiful sounds of majestic quality, that it gave you goose bumps.

Bunji was the last act to take the welcome stage on Saturday. As this young jam band with amazing chops was taking off, I took off, literally. I again sprinted down to the Bandshell stage where The Manchurians were in full flight. Their Chicago barroom R&B was blazing to a point where I could’ve sworn flames were shooting out of Mike Roth’s fingers while Roger C Real took over the stage in all its glory. People were drop-dead blown away as Midnight Train (my personal favorite) barreled through the speakers and had ‘em wailing in the aisles (on the lawn).

Dodging those rushing to the merchandise table for a copy of The Manchurians CD “One For All,” I made my way back to the Welcome stage and caught the final 15 minutes of Bunji’s, Dave Matthews tailored jams. Listening to how tight they were made it all that hard to believe that these were a bunch of teenagers, they played like they have been together for decades.

After closing the Welcome stage for the evening, I wondered into the Food tent. Lulled by the Traffic-like groove that Deep City Elm was laying on the crowd, I quickly found a seat, and mellowed into a sax-laced vibe. About the only thing missing here was an ice cold brewski.

Completely unwound by Deep City Elm’s excellent set, I gathered myself up and began my trek out. This led me by the Bandshell as Elvin Bishop and his band were playing the final set of the evening. Now, being one who has never been a fan of Southern Rock, and who never really followed Elvin Bishop, I had no desire to stick around (after all, beating the traffic was more of a concern to me at this point – hell, I already had 12 + hours of some dynamite music!). But, I did stop to take it all in; The Great Lawn that stretched out from the stage, the crowd of people groovin’ to a good time party band - and as I stood there, something began to happen – The Music – The music, of which genre I’ve never really cared for, began to move me. Before I knew it I was boppin’ along to Elvin and the 7 piece band of veteran artists, who I knew not of, but who I am sure many others could have rattled off their semi-famous names in a heartbeat to me. It all proved one thing, that no matter what style/genre you want to peg on it, if the music and the artists playing it are good, then damn they’re good. And, if the music is coming from the artists at an event that is presenting them, then Damn that event is good!

The Meriden Daffodil Festival, Rob DeRosa, all the performing Artists, and each and every volunteer make this musical event that damn good. I suggest you do not miss the next one. I’ll see you there in April, 2005.

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Last Revised: Feb. 27, 2005.