PHOTO — From left, Shane-O, Pauly, Joey and Reese of Pauly and the Goodfellas perform a high-energy, wisecracking mix of music and humor, including Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1957 hit, “Great Balls of Fire,” during “the ultimate show from the gangstas of soul” before a crowd of 5,000 happy faces Friday night, July 28. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
WEST HAVEN, July 29, 2017 — On the second day of the 36th annual Savin Rock Festival, the History of Rock & Soul Starring Pauly and the Goodfellas, billed as “the ultimate show from the gangstas of soul,” played the songs that defined a generation, entertaining 5,000 concertgoers with a high-energy, wisecracking mix of music and humor Friday night, July 28, in Old Grove Park.
The festival continues today, July 29, with a midway of games, food, rides and entertainment.
The event, which pays homage to the legacy of Savin Rock Park, features its second beer garden — complete with live music — since the festival began in 1982.
The four-day festival kicked off Thursday evening, July 27, with welcoming remarks from Mayor Edward M. O’Brien and followed with a stellar rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Caitlin Morrissey.
Sacred Fire was faithful in its tribute to Santana and was followed by party rock band The RumRunners.
The festival, sponsored by the University of New Haven, is today-Sunday, July 29-30, noon-10 p.m. This year’s stage is sponsored by Wheelabrator of Bridgeport.
Marenna Amusements is offering wristbands for unlimited rides for $30, 24 tickets for $24 and 12 tickets for $10. Otherwise, tickets cost $1 each.
On Friday evening, July 28, Turbulence, anchored by city native Bill Downes on drums, warmed up the crowd with a slew of Top 40 anthems.
Local organizations are setting up informational booths, and the food court is serving up the fare — fried seafood, split hot dogs, frozen custard — that catapulted old Savin Rock to notoriety as “the Coney Island of Connecticut.”
Today, July 29, the West Haven High School dance team and the Top Hat Dance Academy perform at noon and 12:15 p.m., respectively, followed by alternative rock group Clockwork at 1 p.m. and country cover band Boondocks at 2:30 p.m.
Rubber City, powered by a horn section that rivals such bands as Chicago and Tower of Power, goes on at 4 p.m., followed by “music that’ll move ya’” by Ball in the House at 5:30 p.m.
Living Colour bassist Doug Wimbish and his band play at 7:30 p.m.
Festival headliner Elements, anchored by a 12-piece band, start at 8:30 p.m., performing a 90-minute set of Earth, Wind & Fire hits, including “September,” “Can’t Hide Love,” “Boogie Wonderland” and “Fantasy.”
On Sunday, July 30, Simply Dance will perform at noon, followed by classic rock band Stratus at 1 p.m., oldies group Vinnie Carr at 2:30 p.m., pop rock group Sister Funk at 4 p.m. and R&B band Nu Groove at 5:30 p.m.
At 8 p.m., the festival will close with a two-hour concert by The Wayouts, “Connecticut’s freshest and most diversified cover band.”
The West Haven High School Band Parents is holding a craft fair today, July 29, noon-8 p.m., and Sunday, July 30, noon-6 p.m.
To help with expenses, the Savin Rock Festival Committee is selling T-shirts and other merchandise in the hospitality tent. It is also charging nonresidents $10 for parking.
Organizers said the parking revenue and beer and merchandise sales are supporting next year’s festival budget.
The cash-only beer garden is pouring three craft, domestic and imported draft beers, as well as a hard cider and a wine. It is serving beer today-Sunday, July 29-30, 1-9 p.m.
O’Brien applauded the committee’s contributions in planning the 2017 festival.
“The proud heritage of Savin Rock lives on in West Haven thanks to the hard work of the festival committee,” O’Brien said. “All the committee members have devoted their time, talents and energy to ensure another quality festival for the enjoyment of all.”
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, “the 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” of all ages with its distinctive sights, sounds and smells. “The playground of New England” 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.
View the event schedule at 2017 Savin Rock Festival.
View the official program at 2017 Savin Rock Festival Guide.
Follow the Savin Rock Festival on Facebook.
— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator