Cultural Events

Summer Jam Concert Series Opener To Coincide With Last Day Of School

Published: June 15, 2018 at 12:00 am


The Claris Construction Inc Summer Jam Children's Concert Series will return to the Dickinson Park bandshell for a sixth season with performances on Tuesdays at 6 pm beginning June 26.

The 2018 performance roster features a dynamic group of talented artists who have collectively earned Latin Grammy nominations, a Latin Grammy Award, multiple Parents' Choice Awards, and a plethora of additional accolades and songwriting awards.

Amy Mangold, director of Newtown Parks & Recreation, says the series brings a lot of joy to the community each year.

"It is wonderful to see so many families relaxing together with a picnic in the park while enjoying the shows by such talented children's entertainers," Ms Mangold said. "We are grateful to have sponsors who are so supportive of bringing award-winning musicians to our community every summer."

The series, a program of Newtown Parks & Recreation, is free and open to the public, courtesy of the generosity of the local sponsors that make this series possible. Claris Construction Inc is the title sponsor of the series for the sixth year. Gold sponsors include Andy Sachs and the Around Town Team at Coldwell Banker, Honda of Danbury, People's United Bank, Popowich Chiropractic & Acupuncture Care, and Union Savings Bank.

Additional support has been provided by Associated Refuse Haulers.

The concert series kicks off on Tuesday, June 26 - the final day of the local 2017-18 academic year - with a performance by Brooklyn-based Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights. The multi-award winning singer-songwriter Joanie Leeds provides high-energy, vivacious fun while performing her catchy tunes that have climbed up the charts to #1 on Sirius-XM's Kids Place Live and WXPN's Kids Corner.

Leeds's accolades include first place in the USA Songwriting Competition, an Independent Music Award, a Gold Parents' Choice Award, a NAPPA Gold Award, a Family Choice Award, and she has been a John Lennon Songwriting Award Finalist and an International Songwriting Competition Finalist.

Leeds and her band have performed songs from her seven interactive CDs in cities across the country. She most recently was nominated for two Independent Music Awards, one for Best Children's Album (Brooklyn Baby) and one for Best Children's Song ("Love is Love").

Following a break in programming on July 3 due to the holiday, Summer Jam will return on July 10 and continue weekly through August 7.

The charismatic and much loved Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys will be at the Elm Drive bandshell on July 10. Trien's music is a mixture of folk, blues, and pop. She has four Parents' Choice award-winning albums; two songs from her most recently released fourth album were selected as a finalist ("Fireworks") and semifinalist ("Wonderful You") for the International Songwriting Competition's children's music category.

Erin Masotta, coordinator of the concert series, points out that the band has traveled from Boston every summer since the inception of the Summer Jam series.

"Whether this is the first or the sixth time you are seeing Vanessa and her incredibly talented band, her show is not one to be missed," said Ms Masotta.

Summer Jam continues on July 17 with an energetic and bilingual show performed by 2015 Latin Grammy winner for Best Children's Album (Los Animales) Mister G.

He was also the recipient of the Parents' Choice Gold Award for Los Animales. Mister G has released a total of seven children's albums since 2010, receiving multiple awards and nominations for his music. The ABC Fiesta album received a 2014 Latin Grammy nomination and a Parents' Choice Silver Award. His 2012 album Chocolalala, as well as his most recent release, The Mitzvah Bus, are also Parents' Choice Gold Award recipients.

The July 24 performance will feature the incredible one-man-band of Parents' Choice Award recipient KB Whirly. Parents and kids alike are in for a treat with KB as he intertwines storytelling, improvisation, and interactive music-making by incorporating a variety of instruments as he highlights various genres throughout his show.

On July 31 Summer Jam will welcome Parents' Choice and NAPPA Awards recipient Rolie Polie Guacamole. With six albums of inventive music, parents will be just as engaged as their children. Rolie Polie Guacamole's music is imaginative, creative, and fun, with instrumental layers, rhythm, and humor.

The 2018 series will conclude on August 7 with a performance by PBS mega personality SteveSongs.

Mr Steve has eight albums, the most recent being his 2014 release Orangutan Van. The musician has been the recipient of numerous awards including two Parents' Choice Gold Awards. His personality is effervescent, his lyrics witty, and his music catchy. He will undoubtedly have the crowd jumping, singing, and dancing along him.

Summer Jam concerts will be held rain or shine but may be moved under the pavilion at Dickinson Park in the event of light rain. For more severe weather, the performance will move to an indoor location in town.

Important updates and weather-related location changes will be posted to the Newtown Parks & Recreation Facebook page, the Summer Jam Facebook page, and The Newtown Bee Facebook page.

Newtown has again been recognized for its distinguished commitment to high-caliber music education as one of the 2018 Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants. Summer Jam is proud to welcome award-winning musicians and songwriters to the community throughout the summer months, encouraging and fostering a love of music in children by highlighting a variety of musical genres and an eclectic array of instruments for all to enjoy.

Dickinson Park is at 50 Elm Drive. Additional parking is available in a lot off the park's Brushy Hill Road entrance. For additional information about the Summer Jam Concert Series, contact Newtown Parks & Recreation at 203-270-4340 or visit


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Newtown Cultural Arts Commission is presenting or coordinating on six weeks of special events. Which event are you looking forward to the most? (Visit our Features page for a full story with details about all of these events.)

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