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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.