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"It Was A Lovely Night For A Concert"

From one end of Middle Beach West to the other, music lovers in Madison were treated to a wide range of music Thursday night. There have been a few complaints to town hall as well, and voters will at some point get to decide the fate of one venue.

 

Editor's Note: Were you at either concert? Share your pictures, videos, and any comments with us!

Thursday night, at Madison Beach Hotel, the British rock back, The Fixx entertained a crowd of several hundred on the Grassy Strip outside the hotel, compliments of Madison Beach Hotel.

The Fixx band members became friends with Lou Carrier, president of DHG, which manages the hotel, when Carrier used to manage a Hard Rock Cafe. So when the band decided to tour to promote their new album, Beautiful Friction, they put the hotel on the schedule.

The concert drew people from all over.

Great band, great show, and bandmembers who are "nice guys"

Daniel Farkquharson, John Santarsiero, and "Lonesome" Billy Calash traveled in from New Haven, to enjoy the music. Daniel is a bass player and songwriter who also plays keyboards and guitar. John is a drummer and Lonesome Billy is a songwriter and guitar player. They've performed with Torque, Hi-Fi Automatic, and Bittersweet Vine.

Daniel said The Fixx is not only a great band that puts on a great show, he said band members also do a good job of staying in touch with their fans via Facebook and other social media. "They have always been really nice guys," he said. "I wrote to them, they wrote back to me. I appreciated that."

Lorri Glen and Tim O'Brien traveled into Madison from Meriden. They had just gotten done camping for three weeks at Hammonasset Beach State Park, and were settled in back home, when they heard about The Fixx playing at Madison Beach Hotel and decided to come back to Madison. Lorri was wearing a t-shirt that said "The Fixx." O'Brien said he had one that used to fit "forty pounds ago."

Big Fixx fans

"We are big Fixx fans," he said, as the couple parked at the Dolly Madison parking lot. "We wouldn't miss this."

The Dolly Madison was charging $25 for parking, or it was free if you stayed at their rooms, or ate there. They also took the opportunity to promote their offerings, which include lobster rolls, seafood, and a Mexican night coming up.

Cheryl Martone of Westbrook, who also works in the kitchen and cleans rooms, was working the parking lot Thursday night, chatting up the customers and letting them know about upcoming specials. "I do everything here," she said, adding that people should be sure to check out the Mexican night.

Supergirl and Wonder Woman were in attendance

Marty and Jinny Triola brought Siena and Kaia Triola, who were dressed as Wonder Woman, and Supergirl, respectively. They came from closer by, since they live one street over from the hotel.

Connie and John Filardi came from Guilford. They said they love the free movie Tuesdays and music Thursdays offered from by Madison Beach Hotel. At first they were a little puzzled by The Fixx.

"Who are they?" Connie asked. Later she said she was enjoying the music.

Ann Ballard, who lives on Middle Beach West, brought her daughter Jenny and Jenny's friend Paige D'Aniello, who also lives in Madison.

"It brings people together from all over"

Ballard said she was thrilled to have such great entertainment offered, for free, so close by. The Fixx was one of a series of concerts offered by the hotel, for free, this summer.

"This is wonderful," she said, as she reclaimed her iPhone from her daughter and gathered her and her friend up to walk down Middle Beach West to the concert, which was already underway. "It brings people together from all over. I can bring my 12-year-old daughter and her friend. And I can enjoy it."

Further down Middle Beach West, at one of the homes that faces the water, a family reported they too were enjoying the music from their home, which faced the water. "Everyone is enjoying listening to it," one of the family members said, declining to be quoted by name.

As night fell, Jack and Kathy, who asked that their last names not be used, were walking along Middle Beach West as the concert was underway. They come down often to walk on Middle Beach West from North Madison, where they live.

"It's great for the town"

"I think it's great," Kathy said. "It's great for the town. It's great for the hotel. I've heard people complain, and I get tired of that. It's usually the people who don't participate, who don't want something new."

Jack agreed, and said he was glad to see hundreds of people attending.

"We come down here all the time," he said. As they approached the intersection of Middle Beach West and Island Avenue, we could hear the music playing, and the children playing in the surf at the beach across the street from the hotel, unless a car was driving by.  As cars drove by, the sound of the car would drown out the background noises coming from the hotel.

"This is a town, not a private association"

"Do you ever hear a football game down here in the fall?" he said. "What are you going to do, ban football. We think this is wonderful. This is a town, not a private association."

Outside of the Madison Beach Club, on Island Avenue at the other end of Middle Beach West, the sounds of the concert were clearly audible coming off of the water. The lights from the concert could be seen as well, in the distance.

Mary Burkhardt, when asked about the concert, said she thought it was great, but that she was heading home to watch the Republican National Convention, because she was "obsessed with it."

"We can hear it on the porch ... we do not like it"

But then she realized I was asking about The Fixx concert at the Madison Beach Hotel. She was referring to a classical music concert about to start at the Madison Beach Club.

"Oh, no, no, no," she said about the Madison Beach Hotel concert, as she walked to the Madison Beach Club parking lot, which was packed with cars. "We can hear it on the porch, all that heavy bass. We do not like it. The sound travels."

Inside the Madison Beach Club, Artemis Simerson, Sergio Pallottelli, Rebecca Patterson, and William Braun of the Wall Street Chamber Players ("Wall Street in New Haven, not Wall Street in New York) were setting up and tuning their instruments which included, respectively, a violin, flute, cello, and piano.

Inside Madison Beach Club, the focus was on music and the conversation about community service

I asked Madison Beach Club President President Dick Grant what he thought of the concert down the street and he acknowledged that he could hear it. And then he changed the subject. He was looking forward to hearing the chamber players and then wanted to talk about the importance of the volunteer and community work that the beach club does, including fundraising through their annual Follies and supporting the town's all volunteer Madison Hose Co. No. 1, which holds their annual fundraiser at the hotel. 

Other guests at the event praised the Madison Beach Hotel for their community work, and their recent participation in the recent Beachcomber Night in downtown Madison. And they too could hear the concert going on at the hotel.

The Wall Street Chamber players started their concert, which featured music from the Baroque Era to the Early 20th Century, around 8:30 p.m. with a selection from Bach. Haydyn, Debussy, and Beethovan were to follow, with a short intermission to allow for the recharging of drinks.

From bingo hall to boat storage, the ballroom also excels as concert hall

The handsome wood paneled ballroom--which plays a variety of roles throughout the year from bingo hall to boat storage--provided outstanding acoustics for the event, the chamber players said when they were done, on par with some of the better music festivals they've attended. The doors to the patio were closed during the concert. Some sounds from the hotel concert filtered in, as did sounds of other Madison Beach Club patrons dining on the patio, and, from the other side of the room, the occasional sound of a car whoosing by.

And the concert was deemed "a triumph," by a woman seated nearby me, an opinion echoed by others as the chamber players recieved a standing ovation.

As I walked back to the Madison Beach Hotel, I spoke with a woman named Nancy, who was leaving the concert to walk to her home nearby.

"A lovely night for a concert"

She commented that it was "a lovely night for a concert."

I asked her if she could hear the sounds of the Madison Beach Hotel concert from where she was sitting at the Madison Beach Club concert.

"I did," she said.

Did it interfere with her enjoyment of the concert?

"It did not," she said, smiling, as she turned to go home.

Complaints to town following concerts

Madison Zoning Enforcement Officer John DeLaura said Friday that he has received several complaints about noise following the hotel concerts from about two or three people, and maybe about a half dozen emails. He said he has reviewed the information with the town attorney and does not plan to issue a letter of non-compliance to the hotel about the complaints.

He said the Zoning Board of Appeals conditions of approval do include restrictions relating to the amplification of music and outdoor events. He said the hotel is also operating the concerts as part of a separate agreement with the town relating to the Grassy Strip, where the concert was held. It is owned by the town, but is being used by the hotel as part of a short term arrangement that will expire at the end of the year, and be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen.

And, while the state does have noise ordinances, that would have to be enforced by the state, the town does not have a separate specific noise ordinance, he said.

"A complex situation"

"This is a complex situation involving the conditions of approval and, now, the temporary agreement about the Grassy Strip that allows them to host concerts and events on that space," he said. "What we have is ambiguity there."

DeLaura said it is his understanding that this is the last concert for the season, other than some classical music that is being planned during brunch this coming Sunday.

He said the issue of noise may be taken into consideration by the Board of Selectmen when they review the agreement with the hotel and decide next steps that should be taken with regard to it, but he said whether to do that would be up to the board.

A conversation, then a vote

Madison Selectman Joe MacDougald, who is acting First Selectman while First Selectman Fillmore McPherson is out of town, said that the entire board has not yet decided on next steps, but that he has had informal conversations with McPherson about what might happen next.

"I had a conversation with Fillmore about it just before he left. For me, what would be important is to start with at least one public session on what should happen. First we'll get a proposal before the public, then I think we should arrange a public forum to address it," he said.

Any final proposal having to do with a permanent transfer of the Grassy Strip  property to the Madison Beach Hotel will have to go before town meeting, he said.

Scott Miller September 01, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Who really thinks that the "free" stuff will continue after the hotel gains control of the Grassy Strip and has lasting parking arrangements? Once they can sell the venue for weddings and other profitable events do you really think your beach chairs will be welcome? Consider that this may be a PR Stunt! Your support and vote are being bought cheaply! We will have to live with traffic jams and noise forever if we do not stop this!
Malinda Moore September 01, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Right on Scott. It was a lovely night to just enjoy the sounds of the waves. We never heard of the performers nor do we want to. Peace and quit is preferred in our otherwise tranquil neighborhood. Whatever the MBH chooses to do inside is pretty much their business, but outside disturbing the public is everyone's business. They should mind their own business. We are sick of hearing from them and about them. They should consider bulldozing the whole place to expand the town's West Wharf Beach property for scenic shoreline public use.
Matt September 01, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Actually, once the MBH purchases the land (most likely at some cut rate deal where the taxpayers lose), I think the zoning issue would kick in to your favor. Right now, it seems the zoning board can't / won't cite the hotel, because it is a town piece of land they're doing this on, through this back door deal with the town. This was my biggest complaint about the deal... the hotel gets only all the advantages and we the taxpayers get all the liability and problems. Once the hotel owns it, they own ALL the responsibility. The fact that Madison does not have a noise ordinance that the police can enforce is also problematic. That has been an issue since as far back as I can remember.
Charlie Shafer September 01, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Yup, the idea of a business taking advantage of a residential neighborhood this way is sort of repulsive, and I don't even live down by the water. And it's more than one business profiting off a town owned piece of land. The hotel got a lot of special treatment from the town to get what they did; have the concerts inside so the neighborhood isn't disturbed. I'm a little amused that the supporters of the scene and free music were not from the beach area, but either out of town or uptown. Noise ordinances are absolutely in order (I still retch at the memory of a garage band practicing ever weekend across the street from us a few years ago). And I'm also a huge fan of live music, both as a presenter and performer, but it can't affect a neighborhood like that.
Scott Miller September 01, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I agree with your logic but I believe that our public officials are working with the town attorney to craft a way around the conditions of the variance given to the MBH so they can use the Grassy Strip without restrictions. A public outcry is the only thing that can stop it!
Scott Miller September 01, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Planning and Zoning, which has zoning enforcement authority under State Law, could put a stop to this without regard to the variance. Section 2.1 of the zoning regulations of the Town of Madison states in part: "No land, building, or premises or part thereof shall be used in any manner which shall create any objectionable noise, smell, light or radio or television interference." The zoning enforcement officer is supposed to take enforcement direction from Planning and Zoning on enforcement matters but in this case it appears that he is being directed by the Town Attorney and Selectmen.
Robert and Alison September 02, 2012 at 02:22 PM
ARE YOU PEOPLE SERIOUS?Are any of you aware of the facts surrounding the possible deal between the town and the Duquese family?Do any of you actually live in our neighborhood or town? Have any of you attended the free movie nights or music series the hotel has put on ALL summer long?You sound completely ignorant to what so many in the town have come to realize since the hotel opened..the owners are genuine,honest people.They have a love of Madison as strong as anyone possiby could and have consistantly put there money ahead of others to the benefit of the town.Their hotel company is involved, available,straightforward and promote local! SCOTT used words like "repulsive" and "taking advantage" in describing the hotel's putting on the music series?Practically the WHOLE neighborhood was there! Old people, young people, kids running around.We've talked to and enjoyed more neighbors this past summer than the previous 15 summers combined! SCOTT,you portray these people as pulling off a PR stunt and they're going to turn around and zap us all down the road.Consider that YOU MAY NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT! The reality is that these are people who love this town. In just one summer they have established a tradition that has brought neighbors and families together. The trade or swap for the piece of the grass strip for the beach area they own is a coup for the town,not the other way around.We had the summer of our lives this year with our kids.It's time to just say,thank you!
Mike Atkins September 02, 2012 at 02:47 PM
sounds like someone gets free drinks and meals?
Scott Miller September 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Robert and Alison-You Drank the Kool Aid and prove my point that PR works!
Pem McNerney (Editor) September 02, 2012 at 06:17 PM
It is true that there were many people from the neighborhood there. That is why I went down Middle Beach West, actually knocking on houses, going door to door, and stopping people on the street to see if they were being bothered. As you can see from the story, the ones I spoke to were not. That is not to say that everyone in the Middle Beach West neighborhood was happy with it. I did not talk with everyone on that street. I also think the sound travels over to the beginning of Middle Beach, and I did not get a chance to talk with anyone on that street yet, about that issue. I'm pretty sure some of the complaints are from a homeowner on Middle Beach and it's possible you can hear the concerts from where he lives, because of how the sound travels. A friend was nice enough to sign me in for the concert at the MBC, and we could hear it a bit from inside the ballroom, but the acoustics in the ballroom were good enough that it did not (for me) ruin the concert. I did not drink any kool aid (that night) and did not take any free drinks or meals.
Robert and Alison September 02, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Mike and Scott, you two are in a minority. No one has bought me as much as an oyster cracker but they were smart (and maybe even thoughtful) enough to hire nice people, local people, meet with those of us who actually live and own homes in this area, provide entertainment for townspeople and have a great restaurant. The fact that my wife and kids have enjoyed themselves so much this summer means something to a taxpayer and resident like me. Pour me another tall glass of their Kool Aid. You guys can keep sucking lemons. In one summer these people have hosted 20 free events! Name one, single thing either you Scott or you Adam have ever done for our town. I'm not sure i've met you on our trash pickup walks? we will support the hotel as long as they keep their promises. They haven't broken one yet. The brainwashed majority would like to slice you sourpusses some fresh lemons!
Scott Miller September 02, 2012 at 09:49 PM
If the majority mattered the citizen's vote against the Grassy Strip going to the Madison Beach Hotel would have been honored! If the owners and managers of the Hotel were honorable they would honor the agreement that they made by accepting the terms of the variance to build the MBH! The MBH is in business to make a profit and weddings and other private events are clearly more profitable than free concerts. Just watch what they do when the get control of the Grassy strip!
Gus R. Horvath September 02, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Scott, is the Madison Beach Hotel the only profit oriented business in Madison? Are all the others non -profit? I negotiate the lease for the "free" parking lot property for downtown businesses on the north side of the Boston Post Road for $1.00 in the mid 1980s. the town then paid to to build the lot as well as the enlarge and pave the Scranton lot on the south side. The town now pays over $14,000 a year to the current owners. Why is subsidizing some town businesses OK but not for others?
Walter Lippmann September 03, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Robert and Alison, You may not have drank the kool aid, but you certainly misguided in your understanding of all the rules and ordinances the MBH has disregarded. If you are so thrilled by their "free events" have you considered all the inconveniences and down right disregard they have shown to the taxpayers of Madison. They ignore ordinances, variences, parking and zoning requirements, and anythiing else that cutrtails their rights as a business in Madison. What promises have they kept, illegal parking, building walls and bocce courts without permission, jeopardizing the town by serving illegal drinks in prohibited areas, are you kidding me. You have drank more than kool aid. The town's citizens have voted one way, anf the MBH continues to ignore the wishes of the majority. The majority of the " brainwashed citizens" cannot be bought by some meager offerings of free movies, concerts, etc. They are still concerned with the parking situation, the additional town liability, the additional manpower cost for the town's various departments, the erosin to the beach area across from where the hotel drains it's water overflow and many other issues too numerous to itemize. This is a democracy and the voice of the majority should prevail. We don't suck lemons we want our rights as citizens to be administered.
Anita Bath September 03, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Anyone who has any issues with pem and her reporting, contact the ollowing person Regional Editor Megan Bard at megan.bard@patch.com.
Wilson September 03, 2012 at 01:53 AM
You guys can have this battle. I believe the whole hotel issue is a complete mess. As a beach front owner I feel the political deals, the in-fighting, the fact that it ruined the old New England landscape of the shoreline and turned quite summer nights on the beach into strobe light bass thumping chaos, I won't go there. I won't recommend friends and family do either. And I can't wait to vote out of office the current selectman and anyone that is elected and has influence on the appointments of the people who let them get away with this. What a shame. It will never be the same.
Scott Miller September 03, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Gus, The difference is that the Madison Beach Hotel is a commercial business in a residentially zoned neighborhood. It is therefore a conconforming use and required a variance to be rebuilt. It is now violating the conditions of that variance. Whatever the merits of the subsidy of the downtown parking arrangements , the parking is in the commercial zoning district and not invading a residential neighborhood. A big difference, I would say.
Wilson September 03, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Alison, as a fellow beach front owner I agree that we have access to these events. I just find them a complete change in theme and texture to what we have loved about our quite summer residence. But lets us not forget all us beach-front owners have free access to these events but if you can't find parking or don't want to pay $25 to park or don't live in within walking distance all of the summer neighborliness you are raving about is not accessible to you. We have to be careful not to disclose our 1% (of the population of Madison) status to this access.
Gus R. Horvath September 03, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Scott, Good point.
Jon September 04, 2012 at 05:33 PM
A perfect solution. Let the town actually collect revenue by having concerts at the Larger Grassy Strip = The AIRPORT. This way we solved the heavily settled area around the bach club from being disturbed by the noise, the hotel can't collect their "free" $25 cover charge for parking, and the waste-of-money purchase by the town boneheads can actually provide a revenue source to pay down some of the debt they laid on each homeowner.
Matt September 04, 2012 at 10:31 PM
HAHA. Best use for that waste of money I've heard yet. However, I can assure you that the bird people will never allow such a thing. The kind of sound and light could disturb a bird or squirrel. Never mind that AIRPLANES used to regularly buzz right in and out without disturbing them, or any other logical response. Once the bird people and Duo tell our town leaders that they don't like it, that will become policy. There are no birds to look at from a different angle at West Wharf. So they're indifferent to that matter.

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