The Meriden Daffodil Festival

For over a decade now the last weekend in April has been one of my favorite weekends on the calendar. It’s the weekend of the Meriden Daffodil Festival, a two-day festival held in the central Connecticut town of Meriden at their gorgeous Hubbard Park. Yes, there are vendors, carnival rides, tons of fried foods, and the park itself is worth visiting on any weekend of the year. But for me it was always the three stages of local music that had me as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. (Plus it was free, which when you are dragging a gaggle of kids with you,  feeding them, and sticking them on rides that was always appreciated.)

The folks who run the Daffodil Fest were quick to pull the plug this year thanks to the COVID-19 crisis. Almost immediately after the governor announced various restrictions one of my favorite events of the year was stolen from us all. As I mentioned I’ve attended this festival for at least a decade straight, minus the one year it poured all weekend, and my respect for what these folks do over the course of a weekend is high enough that I invoked their festival’s name several times when I was trying to convince the good people of Glastonbury to expand their festival to include multiple stages of music seven years ago.

I had the privilege years ago to spend time filming artists performing at the Meriden Daffodil Festival for a local TV show that I produced called Live & Local. In 2012 and 2013 I filmed dozens of acts with varying degrees of successful results. I decided that if we couldn’t go to the Meriden Daffodil Fest this year, we could at least revisit some highlights from years past. Below you’ll find 13 performances that originally aired on WCCT from some of CT’s finest acts of the day. Some of these artists are still around, some are long gone. But this provides a pretty solid snapshot of the musical landscape at the time, courtesy of the Meriden Daffodil Festival. Enjoy it, and I’ll see you all next year in Hubbard Park.

 

Farewood
A staple at several Daffodil Fests and always one of my favorite bands to catch live. Their ethereal brand of alt rock sounds like it should be out of place at an event like this but it never was.

 

Frank Critelli
I think Frank has played every Daffodil Fest ever. For good reason too, and not just because he’s a Meriden resident. The guy knows how to work a crowd better than anyone else in the state and he’s a helluva songwriter too.

 

M.T. Bearington
I miss this band. Hands down one of the most underrated acts to ever come out of CT. Their albums were fantastic. Their live sets were even better.

 

Sidewalk Dave
Another band I miss. If I’m not mistaken these guys were (accidentally) booked to play first on the Welcome Stage on a Sunday morning. Holy crap what a fantastic wake up call.

 

Breakthrough Frequencies
Easily one of the heaviest bands to ever play Daffodil Fest. I wasn’t sure how the reception would be but they absolutely killed it that day.

 

Daphne Lee Martin
Always a favorite whenever Daphne plays live. We were able to capture a special appearance by Sam Perduta of Elison Jackson too.

 

Elison Jackson
Speaking of which… These guys have since relocated to Philly but they will always be a CT band in my book. One of my all-time favorites.

 

Goodnight Blue Moon
There were/are few bands in CT who can fill a stage with such sheer fun and enjoyment the way Goodnight Blue Moon can. They are a must-see whenever they all play together.

 

Little Ugly
Another band gone before their time. For a brief period you could argue that Little Ugly was the best band to come out of Hartford, at least in the 2010s.

 

Paper Hill Casket Company
Another great band that is missed dearly. Their live sets were as eclectic as their exceptional recordings.

 

1974
One of the most electrifying live bands CT has produced over the last two decades. Also a band that I was positive people at Daffodil Festival would adore. I wasn’t wrong.

 

The Manchurians
Hard rockin’ blues doe the right way, every time. This is another act that played Daffodil Fest on almost an annual basis and no one complained. (I didn’t any way.)

 

Violent Mae
What’s left to be said on this blog about possibly my all-time favorite CT band? This was another time that a band a little heavier/darker than expected was asked to open a stage at an ungodly hour. I believe the sign on the front of the stage (which still listed them as Becky Kessler and Floyd Kellogg) says they were playing at 10 a.m.


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