While the 'stars' of this past weekend's 34th Annual Daffodil Festival at Meriden's Hubbard Park had already come and gone due to the unusually early spring, the daffodil-less festival had plenty of other attractions to boast about including crafts, amusement rides, kids' entertaintment, food, and of course, music.
For the roughly 75,000 festival goers, the weekend's seasonable and sunny weather was just the ticket to enjoy 35-plus bands spread out over the festival's three stages.
Some highlights of the weekend's performances:
Salsa dura bandleader and Meriden resident, Pedro Valentin, led his large orchestra through their paces during an energetic hour-long set of classic salsa tunes. This was the affable Valentin's first appearance at the festival and he was gracious for the opportunity to be the representative of Latin music at the fest.
Rockabilly and roots music purveyors, Big Fat Combo tore through some their original material and a few choice covers, despite the wind that had whipped up a dust storm in front of the Jeff Crooms Welcome Stage.
Hartford native, Grayson Hugh, who's white-boy soul was popular in the late 80's ("Bring It All Back") was unfortunately relegated to the food tent stage. Resembling Hank Williams Jr., Hugh played stoically behind his keyboard, while his wife and backup singer, Polly Messer, smoothed out the edges.
Mates of State, the husband-and-wife indie-pop duo of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammell, (Stratford residents) played a long set of tunes mostly culled from Mountaintops and some of their kid-friendly fare. With the couple's young daughters frolicking in front of the stage, their poppy keyboard and drums arrangements were pitch perfect for the end of evening set closer.
The Grimm Generation turned in a stellar set of hard-to-define, semi-acoustic songs of love, hate and alcohol. Principal Grimm members Carmen Champagne (vocals) and Jason P. Krug (vocals and acoustic guitar) were joined by Dave Hogan (electric guitar) and multi-intrumentalist Lys Guillorn who provided some wonderful counterpoint and texture to the duo's raw sound.