Meriden welcomes back singer-songwriter Gary Burr

MERIDEN — The Olde Church Summer Spin-Off series brought in several musicians throughout the summer to perform at Hubbard Park. However, Thursday night the crowd was in for special treatment.

Meriden-born singer-songwriter Gary Burr has written and co-written several top 10 hits with artists like Juice Newton, Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers and many 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 power company,” Burr said. “Every night I tried to write a song that would save me from having to crawl around in people’s attics.”

Burr would bolster his career by moving to Nashville in 1989. But even after decades in Tennessee, he never forgot his roots.

“I’m really proud to be from Meriden and proud to be a New Englander,” Burr said. “I know Nashville is home, but I never lost that feeling of being a Meridenite.”

During her performance, Burr shared some of her fondest childhood memories, such as skating on the park’s Mirror Lake or strolling past the park’s daffodils.

His enthusiasm and appreciation for his hometown did not go unnoticed.

“He’s someone Meriden can be proud of, and I know he loves coming back, especially to Hubbard Park,” said David Cooley, one of the concert series organizers.

Playing in the park, with friends present and being able to see Castle Craig, was extremely emotional, Burr said.

“I’m looking at where I scattered my mother’s and father’s ashes,” he said. “To say it’s an emotional evening is an understatement, to look out there and see just about everyone I’ve been in a band with, it’s just wonderful.

The Olde Church Acoustic Series aims to bring “the best of Connecticut’s local artists” with the added benefit of alleviating the stresses and woes of larger venues, Cooley said.

The concerts are free.

“You get a good night of entertainment and a good night of being with people in your community,” Cooley said.

Many seated in groups and pairs nodded and sang along to Burr’s work as he performed under the shell of the park band. Originally, Burr didn’t realize the effect music could have on his life let alone the lives of others.

“This [music] saved me, it was such a blessing, I had no idea I had it all in me,” Burr said.

The series will continue to provide live music in the summer and throughout the rest of the year. According to the Meriden Parks and Recreation schedule, the next concert in the series will be at Hubbard Park on September 1.

Audience members appreciated the opportunity to see Burr.

“I think it’s great that he remembers our hometown and with all this fame he’s come across, that’s where he wants to be,” said Claire Forcier, a longtime resident of Meriden.

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