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