Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kansas & The Family Stone Perform in Hamden's Summer Concert Series

Kansas  - photo by John V
The Town of Hamden, CT always has a fantastic series of outdoor summer concerts (free of charge) during the month of July. This year was no exception: earlier this month, music fans were treated to a doo-wop show featuring members of The Drifters and The Tokens. The following week showcased a well-attended & warmly received performance by dance pop diva Taylor Dayne. But in the last two weeks, The Hamden Arts Commission outdid themselves once again. On July 24, Kansas arrived at Meadowbrook Park for a rocking show that featured well-known hits like “Dust In The Wind.” The band also performed a selection of songs from throughout their long career, including “Play The Game Tonight," "Sparks of the Tempest," and “Closet Chronicles.”

Over the years, the group has shifted its focus back and forth between their progressive roots and more pop oriented material, but they still have a very loyal cadre of fans who love their music. The band was amazing vocally and instrumentally, and sounded great on crowd favorites like “Point of Know Return” and “Hold On.”  The band recently released a long form documentary about their history, titled “Miracles Out of Nowhere.” Local rockers XYZ Revisited ruled the stage with a set of energetic metal to start the evening,  and laid the groundwork for Kansas’ awesome set. The huge crowd loved every minute of the concert. Seeing a national act like Kansas for free in an outdoor setting was fantastic, and the weather cooperated as well; it was a beautiful night. The show wrapped up with a fantastic encore performance of the classic “Carry On Wayward Son.” 

The Family Stone - photo by John V
Then on July 31, The Family Stone, with founding members Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini and Greg Errico brought the funk to town with an energetic set of their soul & r&b classics, including “Dance To The Music” & “I Want To Take You Higher.” While their original leader, Sly Stone, has been plagued with a myriad of personal problems over the last few years and doesn’t currently tour, the band has soldiered on to bring their classic sounds to their fans. The current lineup features Sly & Cynthia’s daughter Phunne on vocals, and she sounded wonderful. The group had an electrifying groove, and captivated the crowd. The band cajoled & entreated the audience to keep dancing & singing on every song they performed. And how could you not dance to tunes like to “Everyday People,” and “Stand!” The group sound sharp & powerful: they had the chops and they were The Family Stone, united in the funk, rock & soul.

It was an exhilarating night, climaxed by one final knockout dose of funk on "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)." The Family Stone brought the funk, kicked it up several notches, and then left us wanting more. By the way, Hamden resident (and former contestant on The Voice) Blessing Offor, opened the show with a wonderful set of soulful music. His album, Roots, is worth seeking out. If you get a chance to see either Kansas or The Family Stone in your area, I very highly recommend both groups. And keep your eyes on The Town of Hamden website (usually in late May or early June) for announcements of the shows coming up for next year. The hard work & dedication of the Hamden Arts Commission, their local & corporate sponsors (as well as donations from concertgoers during the shows) keep this amazing series going strong every year.

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