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PHOTO — Doobie Brothers tribute band What a Fool Believes perform one of many crowd-pleasing hits in Old Grove Park on Sunday, Sept. 19. Billed as “a Doobie Brothers experience,” the two-hour show capped the West Haven Centennial Concert Series. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
WEST HAVEN, Sept. 20, 2021 — What a Fool Believes, the incomparable Doobie Brothers tribute band, came rocking down the highway and took it to the streets of West Haven on Sunday, Sept. 19.
Well, more like Old Grove Park — dubbed “China Grove” by the New Hampshire-based group, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Doobies’ 1973 rocker.
After a trio of rain postponements, the six-piece band performed a hit-packed set of the Doobies’ signature chords and harmonies in front of a vibrant crowd of about 1,000 concertgoers in the 151-year-old Grove overlooking Long Island Sound.
Billed as “a Doobie Brothers experience,” the two-hour show capped the Centennial Concert Series as part of West Haven’s 100th anniversary festivities.
Radio personality Brian Smith, the evening’s master of ceremonies, entertained the gathering between sets with bursts of quick-witted humor.
The show, presented by the City of West Haven Centennial Celebration Committee, was part of a six-month series of free events commemorating the community’s 1921 birth and its incorporation by the General Assembly as Connecticut’s youngest municipality, said Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, the committee’s honorary chairwoman.
What a Fool Believes’ fun-filled, high-energy performance celebrated the Doobies’ 50th anniversary and covered both the Tom Johnston and Michael McDonald eras.
With many people on their feet and some dancing, the band played such timeless songs as “Listen to the Music,” “Long Train Runnin’,” “Black Water,” “Takin’ It to the Streets” and, of course, “China Grove.”
They were anchored by the smooth-sailing yacht rock classics “Minute by Minute,” “What a Fool Believes” and “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” McDonald’s 1982 solo output.
The show was sponsored by West Haven Vietnam Veterans, of which several members attended and were acknowledged by Smith and the grateful crowd.
A row of food and dessert trucks served up eats and sweets on Palace Street, including Franco’s Fried Dough-Licious, Mister Softee and West Haven Ices.
The concert joined a long list of special events observing West Haven’s secession from Orange a century ago, including the Centennial Boat Parade in June, the Centennial Savin Rock Festival in July and the Centennial Fireworks on Sept. 3. The rural and residential sections of Orange separated in 1921 when the residential part, West Haven, became the state’s youngest town.
In the spirit of West Haven’s birthday, committee Chairwoman Beth A. Sabo sold centennial coins, lapel pins and WestHavenOpoly, the centennial version of the board game Monopoly featuring prominent locations in the community.
All merchandise proceeds generated by the committee will offset expenses and support the $50,000 centennial budget approved by the City Council, said Sabo, the city’s commissioner of human resources.
For other centennial merchandise, visit the official Online Store.
The store, hosted by West Haven vendor West Shore Associates, sells such centennial-branded merchandise as long- and short-sleeved T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, stainless steel tumblers, stemless wine glasses, insulated beverage bottles, ceramic mugs, retro sunglasses, canvas and cotton tote bags, eco-performance face masks, and pigment-dyed twill and mesh trucker caps.
A portion of the vendor’s merchandise proceeds will support the centennial account, Sabo said.
Watch the concert on West Haven YouTube.
For a complete list of centennial events, see the Schedule.
— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator
Doobie Brothers tribute band What a Fool Believes perform one of many crowd-pleasing hits in Old Grove Park on Sunday, Sept. 19. Billed as “a Doobie Brothers experience,” the two-hour show capped the West Haven Centennial Concert Series. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
About 1,000 concertgoers gather in the Grove. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
From left, West Haven Vietnam Veterans member Phil Erff, Treasurer Steve Carney, President Dave Ricci, and members Kevin Sullivan and Howie Thomas. The organization sponsored the show. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
Mark Franco, the owner of Franco’s Fried Dough-Licious, shows a homemade fried dough with Chloe O’Connor inside his popular food truck. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
Marissa and Mark Franco and Chloe O’Connor are all smiles while serving hungry customers. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
Kristen Teshoney, of West Haven, buys a coconut ice at the West Haven Ices cart. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
Mister Softee ice cream truck owner Tarik Saray serves a customer. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
Radio personality Brian Smith, the master of ceremonies, jokes with the crowd. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
People dance to the music of What a Fool Believes. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
What a Fool Believes keep the party going. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
A full moon rises above the stage. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)