WEST HAVEN, July 15, 2016 — The Official Blues Brothers Revue, featuring Wayne Catania as Jake and Kieron Lafferty as Elwood, will headline the 35th annual Savin Rock Festival, showcasing a virtual encyclopedia of American music with an infectious mix of the duo’s signature humor.
The event, which pays homage to the legacy of Savin Rock Park, will also spotlight its first beer garden since the festival began in 1982.
The four-day festival will kick off Thursday, July 28, in Old Grove Park with a midway of games, rides, music and, of course, boatloads of mouthwatering seafood.
It will open at 5 p.m. with the national anthem sung by Caitlin Morrissey.
Eight to the Bar, a swing, boogie-woogie and Motown act, will perform at 5:10 p.m., followed by ’50s, ’60s and ’70s favorites by The American Longboards at 7 p.m.
The festival, sponsored by the University of New Haven, is Thursday, July 28, 5-9 p.m.; Friday, July 29, 5-10 p.m.; and Saturday-Sunday, July 30-31, noon-10 p.m.
Marenna Amusements will offer a family pack of 24 tickets for $20 and bracelets for unlimited rides for $25. Otherwise, tickets cost $1 each.
Marenna will premiere a carousel that was recently filmed in New York’s Central Park for an upcoming movie starring Kevin Spacey, said the company’s owners, George Marenna Jr. and George Marenna III.
On Friday, July 29, the 102nd Army Band, composed of members of the Connecticut Army National Guard, will play patriotic anthems at 5 p.m., followed by The Bronx Wanderers, “a high-octane ’50s, ’60s and ’70s rock ’n’ roll experience,” at 8:30 p.m.
A number of civic and fraternal organizations and nonprofit groups will have informational booths set up, and the food court will have a row of area vendors serving up the fare — fried seafood, split hot dogs, frozen custard — that catapulted old Savin Rock to notoriety as “the Coney Island of Connecticut.”
On Saturday, July 30, the West Haven High School dance team will perform at 11:45 a.m., followed by teen rock band Tears Fall Down at noon, reggae group Moto at 1 p.m., alternative rock band The Bamboo Treehouse at 2 p.m., rhythm and blues group The Nu Groove Band at 3 p.m. and crooner Michael Rea at 5 p.m.
Rubber City, powered by a horn section that rivals such bands as Chicago and Tower of Power, will go on at 6 p.m.
At 8:30 p.m., The Official Blues Brothers Revue will lay down a 90-minute playlist from the timeless repertoire of The Blues Brothers, including “Soul Man,” “Rubber Biscuit” “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Rawhide,” “Peter Gunn” and “Gimme Some Lovin.’”
Produced by Dan Aykroyd and Judy Belushi Pisano, wife of the late John Belushi, the Blues Brothers Revue honors Chicago’s rich history of blues, gospel and soul music, according to a release from the show’s publicist, David Budge.
Under the musical direction of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame impresario Paul Shaffer, Catania, Lafferty and the high-energy eight-piece Intercontinental Rhythm & Blues Revue Band “deliver a big sound, performed with the passion and precision of the original Blues Brothers band,” Budge said.
Catania and Lafferty were discovered in Las Vegas and handpicked by Aykroyd and Belushi Pisano.
Once the duo leaps onstage, Belushi Pisano said, Catania and Lafferty become the original characters created by Aykroyd and John Belushi in 1978 when the original act debuted on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
“Kieron and Wayne are not imitators; they live the music and embody those characters,” Belushi Pisano said. “They understand the spirit of The Blues Brothers and revel in the joy of being Jake and Elwood.”
Catania and Lafferty are the only artists sanctioned by the show’s producers to don the trademark hat and sunglasses and walk in the legendary footsteps of Jake and Elwood Blues. The duo fronts an incendiary live concert that combines the comedy and hits from the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers” and subsequent recordings with an interactive multimedia show for all ages to experience.
“Backed by a powerhouse band, concertgoers are in for a night of laughter, dancing and foot-stomping fun,” Budge said.
If it rains, the Bronx Wanderers and Blues Brothers Revue will play in the West Haven High auditorium, 1 McDonough Plaza.
On Sunday, July 31, Top 40 solo act Jim Crutchfield will perform at 1 p.m., followed by oldies group Vinnie Carr at 2 p.m., classic rock band Furious George at 3 p.m., Tower of Power tribute group On the Serious Side at 4 p.m. and contemporary rock band Crystalline Cloud at 5 p.m.
The festival will close once again with a 6 p.m. concert by The Asberry Boys, which include the four youngest siblings of The Taubl Family Band who made it to the finals of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” in 2008, followed by Stevie Nicks cover group The Navels at 8 p.m.
The West Haven High School Band Parents will hold a craft fair Friday-Sunday, July 29-31, from noon-8 p.m.
The Top Hat Dance Academy will perform at noon Sunday, July 31, followed by Simply Dance at 12:30 p.m.
To help with expenses, the Savin Rock Festival Committee will sell T-shirts and other merchandise in the hospitality tent. It will also charge nonresidents $5 for parking.
Organizers said the parking revenue and beer and merchandise sales will support next year’s festival budget.
The beer garden, which is cash only, will pour four craft, domestic and imported draft beers, as well as a hard cider and a wine. It will serve beer Friday, July 29, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, July 30, 1-9 p.m.; and Sunday, July 31, 1-7 p.m.
Mayor Edward M. O’Brien praised the contributions of committee members in planning the 2016 festival.
“The committee has worked hard to emulate the proud heritage of ‘the Rock’ by booking another showstopping lineup of entertainers in hopes of matching — if not surpassing — last year’s attendance record,” O’Brien said.
West Haven’s flagship festival was established by the Chamber of Commerce — initially under the direction of Brian M. Stone, David Gesler and Michael Shiner and thereafter by John L. Perrone and his wife, Mary Perrone — to bring organizations, clubs, businesses and families together for a summer festival that celebrates life in one of America’s oldest coastal communities.
From the dawn of the Savin Rock House hotel in 1838, Savin Rock had long been a resort hub until it was officially incorporated as an amusement park by the Savin Rock Park Co. on Memorial Day 1925, when it opened to 300,000 visitors and 66,000 automobiles in one spectacular day.
For the next four decades, the popular seaside park captured the hearts and imaginations of “Rock rats” young and old with its distinctive sights, sounds and smells. “Connecticut’s playground” shuttered Sept. 21, 1966, to pave the way for the Savin Rock Urban Renewal Project.
Attendees are reminded that a city ordinance prohibits domestic animals on certain parks, beaches or recreation areas. The fine is $50 per offense.
Also, per the Police Department, backpacks, bicycles and glass containers are prohibited, and coolers are subject to search.
For the 2016 schedule of events, click on Savin Rock Festival below.
— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator