Let’s Get the (Greenwich Town) Party Started

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON FOR THE GREENWICH PARTY OF THE YEAR: the Greenwich Town Party on Saturday, May 25. The event is so popular that access to tickets is gained through a lottery system each November (for Greenwich residents only). It’s our version of Wonka’s Golden ticket but with room for 8,000 at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, odds are better than Charlie faced—and the experience almost as magical … or more, if you love music.

Since 2011, an astounding list of musical greats have graced Greenwich Town Party’s massive stage on the water, including Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, The Eagles, Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, John Fogerty, Zac Brown Band, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Revivalists and Buddy Guy. When patrons win their way onto the ticket list, no one knows which bands will play; but no one doubts that the $85 price for 11-plus hours of music, fun, food and celebrating community is the best deal in town (or maybe across the entire country, chocolate factories included).

This year’s headliner, Mumford & Sons, will not disappoint with fan favorites like “I Will Wait,” “The Cave,” and their new collaboration with Pharrell Williams, “Good People.” (Fun fact: Lead singer Marcus Mumford wrote the theme song and scored the musical interludes for Ted Lasso.) Nathanial Rateliff and the Night Sweats—whose combustible mix of soul and rock have landed them on Saturday Night Live and as the opener for the Rolling Stones—will also perform on the Main Stage. GTP founder Ray Dalio assures that if you don’t love them already, you will after May 25. The Town Stage will feature local bands whose talent will add to the soaring town pride that day. Read on to learn where some past Town Stage acts are now, including Drew Angus, who will be promoted to the Main Stage opening act this year.

If it wasn’t your golden-ticket year, there may still be options. GTP Neighbor passes, which provide unlimited access to the Houlihan Lawrence Neighborhood Area with wine, beer and catered food throughout the day and evening, as well as designated parking, are $500 per person. Sponsor passes, offering unlimited access to the Sponsor Tent with catered food and full bar throughout the day and evening, and premier parking in the Island Beach Lot located directly across from Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, are $1,500 per person. Multi-year and multi-person packages are also available. (All levels are available on the GTP website.)

Greenwich Town Party, Inc. is a nonprofit organization and all proceeds go toward the sustainability of the event and keeping the general ticket price affordable.

Ray Dalio

THE MAN BEHIND GREENWICH’S BIGGEST BASH

When founder Ray Dalio conceived the idea for a annual festival in Greenwich that everyone would eagerly anticipate, he wasn’t thinking of the usual enticements: caviar, fine crystal, lavish floral arrangements and a Vogue-worthy dress code. Dalio wanted quite the opposite—a party where a barista, cop and hedge fund director rub shoulders, all grooving to the beat of the same big-time bands and local musical talent. A place where the brands that partygoers wear and the stocks in their portfolio are meaningless and what matters is great tunes. Dalio succeeded, and part of his formula for success is picking the bands that will bring the crowd together.

We sat down with Dalio to learn how he develops the lineup and why community matters.

tell us how you originally imagined the music scene at GTP to be. has it exceeded your expectations? I view Greenwich Town Party like a party that I’m throwing with my friends in which I’m responsible for picking the music that I like and that they’d like. Of course, I want to give them the greatest musicians of my generation and that I have been exposed to, so that’s what we’ve had. But I am conscious that I want it to be great for all generations, which is why this year we chose Mumford & Sons as our lead act.

which musicians are your favorites? You’ve seen them. Plus, I have more up my sleeve that I don’t want to disclose.

tell us about your choice of mumford & sons this year. They are excellent musicians that deliver upbeat music that appeals to most people of all generations.

what about nathanial rateliff, also performing on the main stage. He’s a funky rocker and great entertainer, who many people love and many people need to be introduced to.

what about the town stage? what were/are your goals in showcasing local musicians? It has been fabulous—great music with great neighbors playing it.

what are your goals for GTP as a whole? Community—to create a great party that brings those who live and work in our town together, to have a blast together, from both working on throwing the party and enjoying it.

anything else you’d like to add? Psychologists who study happiness have determined that community is the greatest source of happiness and well-being, and you can feel it for yourself. So I urge you to pitch in to help make and/or dive into the fun of this great Greenwich Town Party.

Ray Rivers

KEEPING THE PARTY GOING

“When we first launched the Greenwich Town Party in 2011, our mission was to create a European-style town party with live music and food that brought the whole community together,” says GTP Co-President Ray Rivers. “Barbara and Ray Dalio suggested we have our own town party right here where our own community could come together, celebrate and participate. Our goal was for the party to be inclusive, accessible and steeped in community generosity. We envisioned a potluck-style party where people who could afford to bring steak, brought steak, and those who could afford to bring a salad, brought that, and so forth. We wanted to mobilize volunteers across the town, as well as businesses and fundraisers, to help make the party special.”

The team set the community ticket price at $85 in 2011—the same price it is today. “That is only a fraction of what the ticket costs,” says Rivers. “The GTP quickly became the most anticipated event of the year in Greenwich and entrenched in the fabric of our community. Significant fundraising efforts, generous donors and sponsors have contributed above and beyond the cost of the event, so more people can afford it. In fact, every donation above $25 is matched by one generous Greenwich resident.”

Rivers emphasizes that the party will endure as long as the community’s generosity does, “until the party’s last note!” And that generosity comes in many forms: volunteering, donating, fundraising or simply spreading the word.

“This year we are focusing on keeping the party going to ensure future generations can enjoy this unique event just as much as we’ve loved it,” says Rivers.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

SPONSOR
Sponsor contributions support the sustainability of the event and allow more of the community to celebrate with general admission and senior tickets: greenwichtownparty.org/become-a-sponsor

DONATE
In the spirit of mutual generosity, everyone is encouraged to contribute as much as they can so more people can come together and celebrate the day. greenwichtownparty.org/donate

DONATE TO THE AUCTION
Local businesses can gain exposure while supporting GTP sustainability by donating items and experiences to the annual online and live auction. greenwichtownparty.org/auction


GTP VIPs

SHARE THEIR FAVORITE MEMORIES


LEGENDS & ICONS
“For me it was introducing Mavis Staples. Pinching myself the whole time. Legend, icon, you name it. Multiple Grammy winner, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner. None of us were worthy! Just felt lucky to be up there.”

—JEFF GLOR
GTP Emcee/CBS News Anchor


GIRL TIME
“I loved last year’s GTP and had so much fun with Carmen Belmont, my daughter Riley and her friend Hope Deschapelles. The New Orleans food and music were one of my favorite-ever GTPs!”

—HANNAH STORM
GTP Emcee/ESPN Anchor


FAMILY TRADITION
“I love hearing about families, friends, colleagues and neighbors coming together to enjoy GTP. Like the couple who went on their first date to the party, and eleven years later they are now married and bringing their kids! And other families who’ve gone every year since moving here and never knew a time when the GTP wasn’t the unofficial kick-off to summer.”

—RAY RIVERS
GTP Co-President


MOTHER NATURE’S SURPRISE
“Two years ago when Billy Joel was the headliner, it happened to land on my birthday. It was also the year that dangerous storms caused a delay in the run of show. For safety reasons, some artists got cut short. People ran for cover, and everyone sitting in their cars and sitting at home just hoped that Mother Nature wouldn’t be a party crasher. And there we were: organizers and a couple of emcees (oh, and my 15-year-old daughter) taking cover in the ladies restroom in the brick building adjacent to the Island Beach Ferry. We waited as Marni Lane and Susan Krisky kept pushing out every update that they could on social media and WGCH Radio. Then, in the crammed bathroom, suddenly came this singing, with a cupcake and a candle, and Rob Burnett following it up with a happy birthday Kendra speech. It was a fantastic memory. And no, despite some frightening moments and delays, Mother Nature did not prevail. GTP, as always, was a huge success.”

—KENDRA FARN
GTP Emcee


SHAKE IT UP!
“I have been photographing the GTP since it started. I was always the one to photograph the meet-and-greets with the artists. I have met so many of these superstar musicians: Clapton, Buddy Guy, Santana, Beach Boys, Tedeschi Trucks Band, etc. They were all wonderful with me and the fans who paid extra to meet them. All were great memories, but my favorite was with Brittany Howard, the lead singer of Alabama Shakes. My daughter, Ashton, is a huge fan of the band and even drove from Jacksonville to Alabama to see them in concert.

When she found out I was going to be the photographer, she said she would fly up and come with me. Well, she was flying up that day but to be in her friend’s wedding as maid of honor—she didn’t realize it was the same day. So, I said: ‘Send a video message to Brittany and I’ll show her if I can.’ As fate would have it, Brittany came out of her dressing room to say hello, and I played the video for her. After a pause, she turned and said, ‘Can I send her a video message back?’ I sent it to my daughter, and as I was walking through the GTP field, Ashton called me screaming with all the bridesmaids and the bride. They were so loud they drowned out the local band playing! It was an amazing moment for my daughter and me.”

—BOB CAPAZZO
GTP House Photographer


GTP STARS —THEN AND NOW

WE CATCH UP WITH SOME OF THE MUSICIANS WHO HAVE LIT UP THE STAGE


RANDON “TAZ” NIEDERAUER

When did you perform at GTP? I performed with Lions On The Moon in 2014. I was eleven years old at the time.

Tell us about that performance. Playing The Greenwich Town Party was an amazing experience for us. My bandmates in Lions were Nicky Winegardner, a Greenwich resident, on lead vocals and guitar; Henry Thomas on drums; and my brother, Dylan Niederauer, on bass. It was an honor for us to perform at this iconic party as young musicians. The crowd was very supportive of our set. We were so grateful to have had the opportunity to play along with other amazing bands.

Favorite memory? Having our families and friends turn out to support us.

What have been some highlights of your career since then? Acting on Broadway for three years in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock the Musical; touring the world with my band; acting in Spike Lee’s Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live and the 30th anniversary of Phantom of the Opera; and currently playing guitar in multi-Grammy winner Jon Batiste’s touring band.

Where do you live? I live on Long Island, and New Haven while at school. I am a junior at Yale.

Anything exciting coming up? I just finished recording the music for my first album. That music will be released soon. My bandmate and friend Nicky Winegardner is attending USC and is also acting and recording music with producer Brad Schultz of the Grammy-winning band Cage The Elephant. tazguitar.com


CAROLINE JONES

When did you perform at GTP? I’ve performed at GTP five times now and twice the last time, as I performed once solo and once as a part of Zac Brown Band. My first performance was when I was 23. Time flies!

Tell us about those performances (or a couple that stand out). My very first time performing at GTP, there was a crazy rainstorm that happened to switch around the lineup and position me at the second stage ahead of Dave Matthews. This was a pinch-me moment, because I grew up listening to his music. That was definitely one of the most memorable moments.

Favorite memory? Rain is a theme, because it absolutely downpoured the last time I played GTP with Zac Brown Band. It was fine during my set, but during Zac Brown Band’s set, the stage was completely soaked. I had these really cool high-heeled boots that I had to take off, because it was just too big of a risk to completely fall on my rear end in front of my entire hometown. I ended up doing the whole set barefoot.

What have been some highlights of your career? The tours I’ve been a part of alongside numerous heroes and mentors of mine. I’ve gotten to tour with the late Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, the Eagles, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, OneRepublic and Zac Brown Band, which I’m now a part of as the first female member. Honestly, getting the chance to share the stage with that caliber of musicians and artists has inspired me and pushed me beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve learned so much and I feel really blessed that so many incredible legends have taken me under their wing. I also think performing at the CMAs with Zac Brown Band was another incredible highlight.

Anything exciting coming up? My new album Homesite is out now and my single “Million Little Bandaids,” featuring Zac Brown Band, is on Country radio. I’m about to kick off a year of touring across the country with Zac Brown Band and Kenny Chesney, so come out and see us! Lastly, I’m a brand-new mom. I have a three-month-old at home, so it’s going to be an exciting adventure taking him on the road this year. carolinejones.com


SHANE KIRSCH

Tell us about your performances at GTP. My band, Rang-A-Boom, has performed on both the Town Stage as well as the Main Stage, since the inception of GTP.

What were some GTP highlights for your band? One of the best moments for us was sharing the bill with John Fogerty and Hall & Oates in 2016. We played after Fogerty and before Hall & Oates. These are two acts that I have listened to my entire life. The following year we got to open the main stage where Steely Dan was the headliner—yet another band that has played a tremendous role in why I love music.

You’ve taught at Brunswick for 19 years. How have your students been involved at GTP? My Brunswick Music Improv Bands have performed regularly at the festival since the inaugural year. Each year, it’s nothing short of amazing. My students receive top billing along with some of the greatest names in music, and they always remark that it is a pinnacle moment for them. It’s just as rewarding for them as it is for me to see them up there sharing their gift in front of the GTP crowd consisting of family and friends; and with so many of them growing up in Greenwich, it makes it even more special.

Where else have you been performing lately? Last August, I joined the horn section on saxophone with Parliament/Funkadelic featuring George Clinton at The Capitol Theatre. I play saxophone with Burlington, VT–based funk/hip-hop group, Belizbeha. With them, I’ve had the opportunity to perform at The Montreal Jazz Festival and Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. Locally, I occasionally play with The 8-Track Band [who have also been on the GTP bill] and Pete Francis and Dragoncrest Collective [who played GTP last year]. Lately, I’ve been deejaying a few local events using all vinyl. The past couple Vino & Vinyl sets I’ve done at Putnam and Vine in Greenwich put a unique “spin” on the wine tasting experience. shanekirschmusic.com


WINSTON RIDER

When did you perform at GTP? I played the Town Stage in 2022, the year Billy Joel headlined. I was 18. It was an amazing experience, as I am a fan of Billy Joel’s music. After I performed, so many people reached out and were supportive of my music. Everyone wanted to help with moving my career to the next level. I am very grateful for that.

Tell us about your GTP performance. I played five of my original songs and was backed up by Tom Seguso on drums and Ron Haney on bass. They are amazing musicians. I worked with them to arrange my original songs as a band, as I usually performed solo with all acoustic sets.

What have been some highlights of your career? A few highlights include being in the lineup and performing at Jingle Ball All-Access Lounge in 2023 [Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC] as well as being interviewed on the red carpet at Madison Square Garden after the performance; this was my second time playing Jingle Ball. I also performed at the 2023 Bedford Music Festival [The Wailers headlined], as well as at the 2023 Summerfest in Milwaukee. Regarding songwriting, I have been working in Nashville writing and co-writing.

Anything else exciting coming up? I will be playing at the Bitter End in New York City this April, The Canyon Club in California [in April] and at the 2024 Summerfest in Milwaukee this summer. I am also excited to have written twelve original songs for a movie called Sirens—written and directed by local talented film maker Lucy Burnett—which will
be released soon. winston-rider.squarespace.com


DREW ANGUS
GTP MAIN STAGE OPENING ACT FOR 2024

When did you perform at GTP? My GTP story is kinda funny. I was supposed to play in 2022 when Billy Joel was the headliner. It was my birthday; and shortly before we were to go on stage, a rainstorm rolled in and hung for long enough that we ended up not getting to play. The band and I made our triumphant return last year, though, opening for the Nola Superjam.

Tell us about that performance. We had a great show, great energy. The crowd was into it, and we had a blast. Those opener spots on the Town Stage go by so quick, you really have to have the show dialed in—no second to spare!

Favorite memory? Billy Joel was awesome to see after that thunderstorm. It was a tough day for me and the band, but Billy made up for it!

What are some career highlights? I played the inaugural Sound on Sound Music Festival in 2022. Elton John shouted out one of my songs on his social media this past winter. I’ve been on American Idol. I’ve sung the national anthem for the Mets at Citi Field. I’m a billboard charting songwriter; in 2023 I wrote a song for another artist that reached #18 on the Billboard AC [Adult Contemporary] chart.

Anything exciting coming up? I’ll be at Fairfield Theater Co. stage one on May 17 and on the Main Stage at GTP. I run the CT Songwriters Collective—a monthly Nashville-style songwriters round featuring great Connecticut songwriters—the second Tuesday of every month at Park City Music Hall in Bridgeport: @ctsongwriters drewangus.com/tour

Photographs: courtesy Greenwich Town Party

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