Meriden welcomes back homegrown singer-songwriter Gary Burr
By Daniel Passapera, Special to the Record-Journal
MERIDEN — The Olde Church Summer Spin-Off Series has brought in several musicians throughout the summer to perform at Hubbard Park. However, Thursday night the crowd was in for a special treat.
Singer-songwriter Gary Burr, a Meriden native, has written and co-written multiple top 10 hits with the likes of Juice Newton, Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers and more. But before the accolades, there was a time when the Platt High School graduate was finding his way.
“I was supposed to go to work for my dad with his electric company,” Burr said. “Every night I tried to write a song that would keep me from having to crawl through people’s attics.”
Burr would bolster his career by moving to Nashville in 1989. But even after decades in Tennessee, he has never forgotten his roots.
“I’m really proud to be from Meriden and proud to be a New Englander,” Burr said. “I know Nashville has been home, but I never lost that feeling of being a Meridenite.”
During his performance, Burr shared some of his fondest childhood memories, like skating on the park’s Mirror Lake or strolling past the park’s daffodils.
His enthusiasm and appreciation for his hometown has not gone unrecognized.
“He is somebody that Meriden can be proud of, and I know he enjoys coming back, especially to Hubbard Park,” said David Cooley, an organizer of the concert series.
Playing at the park, in the presence of friends and able to see Castle Craig, was extremely emotional, Burr said.
“I’m looking at where I scattered my mom and dad’s ashes,” he said. “To say that it’s an emotional evening is putting it mildly, to look out there and see just about everybody I was ever in a band with, it’s just wonderful.
The Olde Church Acoustic Series aims to bring “the best of local Connecticut artists” with the bonus of alleviating the stress and woes of bigger venues, said Cooley.
The concerts are free of charge.
“You get a good night of entertainment and a good night of being with folks from your community,” said Cooley.
Many seated in groups and pairs bobbed their heads and sang along to Burr’s work as he performed under the park’s band shell. Originally, Burr didn’t realize the effect that music could have on his life let alone the lives of others.
“It [music] saved me, it was such a blessing, I had no idea that I had it all inside me,” said Burr.
The series will continue to provide live music in the summer and through the rest of the year. According to the Meriden Parks and Recreation calendar, the next concert in the series will be held at Hubbard Park on Sept. 1.
Members of the audience appreciated the opportunity to see Burr.
“I just think it’s awesome that he remembers our hometown and with all that fame that he’s encountered this is where he wants to be,” said Claire Forcier, a longtime Meriden resident.
For more information, visit oldechurchacoustic.com
EDITORIAL: Concerts put city in spotlight
Two concert series hosted by the city at Hubbard Park and the Meriden Green this summer have helped bring people back together.
Tonight’s free concert at the park’s band shell with Gary Burr is a little bit extra special as the esteemed country singer is a homegrown talent.
“I can’t wait to come home to Meriden and play in the park where I spent my summers swimming and my winters ice skating,” Burr said in a Record-Journal story.
It’s refreshing to hear a successful native speak so well of his hometown and acknowledge the power of dreams – the subtext being dreams can come true, that aspiration is a cornerstone of success. Burr was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and has won numerous awards over the years, including Country Songwriter of the Year.
His dreams led him to share the stage with big stars like Carole King and Ringo Starr. His songs have been record by Tanya Tucker, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Randy Travis, Patty Loveless, Michael Bolton, Kelly Clarkson and many more country greats.
A city can have dreams too, just like country music singers, and local leaders talked about what the two music series have added to summer nights in Meriden.
“The summer music concert series show how important it is to come together as a community,” said Mayor Kevin Scarpati. “The series were great for people prior to Covid-19 and even more important for people after Covid-19 to rebuild that sense of community. They are great community events that help us utilize the Meriden Green and Hubbard Park.”
The Burr event was the second concert of the The Olde Church Summer Spin-Off Series that expanded its indoor acoustic concerts into the park for the summer. The summer series is a collaboration with Meriden Parks and Recreation, MEDCO, and First Church of Meriden.
Organizers selected Thursday evenings for the Hubbard Park events so as not to interfere with the Twilight Concert Series on Friday and Saturday on the Meriden Green. The Twilight Concert Series is backed by Restore With The Arts Inc.
These two concert series have helped bring people downtown and into Hubbard Park to enjoy live music and this can bring life to the city beyond a night’s entertainment. Bringing Burr, an example of dreams fulfilled, into the mix was an excellent addition to the plan.