There was music in the air all day and smiles everywhere this past Saturday, August 3rd, 2013, at the 2nd annual "Danbury Fields Forever" Music & Arts Festival in Connecticut, where 10 acts played Beatles and solo songs for a crowd of about two thousand fans from all over the East Coast at Danbury, Connecticut’s beautiful Ives Concert Park.

The gates opened shortly after noon, and Chuck Lore, aka "Charlie Guitar," started off the festival with his jazzy versions of Beatle classics on solo guitar. Fans made their way to their seats or opened blankets or folding chairs out in the lawn areas. Ken Michaels of the “Every Little Thing” weekly radio show was the event’s MC and he welcomed the acts throughout the day.


Huge inflatables, face-painting and a hula-hoop exhibit kept the young ones entertained, while Long Island's acoustic tribute band, "Something" did their set. The harmonies were spot-on and their song selections further warmed up the crowd


Throughout the venue there were Beatles music & memorabilia vendors and theme booths, including the world-famous artist Shannon, whose breathtaking murals of John, Paul, George and Ringo graced the park.


The first “wow” moment of the day came at the end of the set from "Fools On The Hill," a CT group who were one of only two bands who had played the festival the year before. Their friend and CT neighbor, Gary DeCarlo came onstage to join them for a version of his Steam hit "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Godbye," a song that he co-wrote and sang lead on, which hit #1 in 1969 and knocked The Beatles’ “Something/Come Together” out of that top slot. It was only one of two non-Beatles songs played at the festival, but the crowd loved having a national act surprise them. It was also a great ending to a stellar set from the band


Next, Jeff Slate performed a tribute to Harrison with some of George's best-known solo & group compositions. He turned things up a notch for his finale of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," where he was joined by members of the Cryers,  world-famous artist Shannon on lead guitar (!), Jeffrey DiCera (from the McCartney tribute band "One Sweet Dream") on drums and John Lennon's friend & recording engineer Dennis Ferrante on back-up vocals. It was the second "wow" performance of the day and a nice showcase for Slate, who is used to working with stars alongside him (his band, "Birds of Paradox" features members of Wings and Lennon's Elephants Memory).


Massachusetts-based “BeatleTracks” brought their tight harmonies and well-seasoned musicianship to the stage, with a bit of backstage suspense. The six-piece band was one short and Jeffrey DiCera was ready to fill in, but as the band was taking the stage, their drummer showed up with no time to spare. The veteran musicians were a nice contrast to the young group that played shortly afterward, ”Genetic Control.” The Bronx band, the other returning acts from last year’s festival, played heavy rock versions from The Beatles’ catalogue, highlighted by a Joe Cocker-meets-Ringo-meets-Led Zeppelin version of “With a Little Help From My Friends.” The audience demanded an encore and the band squeezed (or should we say squeeze-boxed) in a quick Who medley, the only other non-Beatle offering of the day. Again, the crowd didn’t mind.


Sandwiched between BeatleTracks and Genetic Control was the Lennon Legacy Show, a moving and spot-on tribute to John presented by Dave Pal from upstate New York. With Lennon specs and army jacket, the singer/guitarist not only looked like John but sounded just like him. The crowd was mesmerized.


The festival was now in full gear as Lennon Legacy made way for the only national act on the bill, The Cryers. The New Jersey group, led by Joe Orlando, have played with Denny Laine and other international stars, and are veterans of many other Beatles music festivals. A rockin’ version of “Two of Us” and some harder-edged reggae versions of Beatles classics were just some highlights of their set. To put it simply, their professionalism and superb musicianship ignited the crowd


Now it was time for the dress-up “boots & suits” bands. From their first song, “It Won’t Be Long,” to their closing audience-participation rendition of “Twist and Shout,” The Hofners had the audience in the palm of their hands – singing and dancing on their feet. Two highlights were "If I Needed Someone" and "Act Naturally." Expectations were high for The Hofners, an off-shoot of the band “MerseyBeatMania” which headlined the festival last-year. The Hofners are an all-star band of sorts assembled by Mike “Ringo” Streeto (Fab Forever, Yesterday, Legends, etc.) with Dave Pal (Beatlemania Again) on rhythm, Mike Montinola on lead and Mark Ehmann (from Dallas, TX’s “A Hard Night’s Day”) on bass. Adorned in their “Help!” outfits, The Hofners expertly covered early Beatles hits to the crowd’s complete satisfaction


The other costumed band, Mystery Tour, went from Sgt. Pepper outfits to Abbey Road clothes and the crowd ate it up. Obviously, songs from Magical Mystery Tour, Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road made up the band’s set, but by then there was magic in the air, and the CT touring band could do no wrong. At the very end of their set, Mystery Tour welcomed up members of bands who were still around, and Dave Pal led everyone in closing the day-long fab-filled fun-fest with “Give Peace a Chance,” the festival’s theme. A surprise special guest, “Ringer Starr,” an amazing Ringo lookalike and soundalike whose real name is Mike Callahan, traveled from Michigan to be part of the festivities, played the drums and sang back-up for this grand finale. Truly another "wow."


A fund-raiser for Newtown’s Memorial Playground, 100% of net profits from ticket sales from “Danbury Fields Forever” benefited the charity by raising approximately $10,000.00.


Produced by Charles F. Rosenay!!!’s Liverpool Productions, the festival “guaranteed to raise a smile,” and it more than succeeded


"Ringer Starr" (Mike Callahan of Michigan) meets Paul Fredericks (of the CT band "The Way-Back Machine") at "Danbury Fields Forever." Photo courtesy Paul Fredericks


Artists subject to change. This production is not affiliated with The Beatles or Apple Corps LTD


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