Erin Masotta quickly dished out a homemade lunch to her children Noah and Ivy. Their father John Masotta soon joined them on a picnic blanket among a crowd of other families gathering in front of the band shell at Dickinson Park.
Just past noon Wednesday, Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys stepped on stage as a crowd of families, summer day campers, and parents grew. The first concert of the new Summer Jam Concert Series was about to begin. By 12:30 pm Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold introduced Ms Trien, a friend of her from “years ago,” and two members of her band, from Boston. Joining Ms Trien onstage Wednesday were Jumping Monkeys guitarist and vocalist Julie Rama-Winslow and stand-up bass player Paul Kochanski.
Before the interactive show began — Ms Trien would soon lead the children through sing-alongs — she recalled months ago “I had wanted to do something for Newtown.” Still friendly with members of Ms Mangold’s family, Ms Trien had mentioned her interest in coming to Newtown. Word soon got to Ms Mangold, who, post 12/14, had been talking with Ms Masotta. She is the resident who had first approached Ms Mangold with the idea for a concert series for children.
After December 2012, Ms Masotta said, “We had so many offers.” Thinking ahead to months past the tragedy in Sandy Hook, she said, “We wanted to bring children together and be happy over the summer.” A children’s concert series came to mind “because music is so important to them.”
Ms Mangold felt that Ms Masotta’s idea fit perfectly with Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys.
“I knew she was a successful children’s performer,” Ms Mangold said. Although Ms Trien had wanted to reach out to Newtown months ago, she had been reluctant. Similarly, Ms Mangold hesitated to contact Ms Trien in Boston, assuming she was busy. Joking that she and Ms Mangold were “two women who didn’t want to impose” on one another, they finally connected.
Ms Masotta handed guests flyers, indicating that the upcoming weekly schedule includes musicians from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Ohio, and Massachusetts.
Seated on a blanket in the shade minutes before the music began were Oliver Pategas, and Brooke and Rylan Kennedy. Like many around them, the children had a close view of the band shell and musicians playing just for them.
Concerts scheduled through August 7 will take place weekly on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm at Dickinson Park. The free outdoor concerts bring music to families and children (ages 10 and under).
A host of local businesses, including Presenting Sponsor Claris Construction Inc, are supporting the series. Gold Sponsors include Caraluzzi’s, Andy Sachs The Around Town Team at Coldwell Banker, People’s United Bank, and Union Savings Bank.