Gov. Lamont, Michael Bolton, Steve Miller Band to join forces for Connecticut Democratic fundraiser
A Baby Boomer who wanted to go to Woodstock as a teenager, Gov. Ned Lamont has a wide variety of musical tastes.
His latest musical foray is a rock concert next week in Bridgeport by the Steve Miller Band as a fundraiser for Connecticut Democrats with Lamont as the special guest.
The event is co-hosted by Grammy Award-winning singer Michael Bolton of Westport and legendary concert promoter Jim Koplik of Stamford.
A bipartisan musician, Bolton has performed for the presidential campaigns of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. He also appeared frequently at events in the late 1990s with then-Republican Gov. John G. Rowland, whose wife, Patty, was a major fan of Bolton. Bolton even wrote a character reference for Rowland in an attempt to obtain a lighter sentence in 2014 before Rowland was sent to federal prison for the second time in a campaign finance case.
“We, at The Michael Bolton Charities, believe John Rowland has much to contribute to our community and that given the opportunity, John will continue his work on behalf of women and children at risk,” Bolton wrote.
At the concert on July 29 in Bridgeport, Democratic supporters at the “gold’' level will pay $500 for a reception and two tickets to the performance, while those at the “silver’' level will pay $350.
The Steve Miller Band had some of its greatest hits in the mid-1970s, when Lamont was in college, as the band sang “Jet Air Liner,’' “The Joker,’' “Swingtown,’' “Abracadabra,’' and “Take the Money and Run,’' among others. Miller was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 2016 as a solo artist.
Known to often wear a Grateful Dead belt, Lamont came up with the idea for the reception at the concert at the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater, which was built on the site of a former minor league baseball stadium. Lamont is not personal friends with Miller, and both Miller and Bolton are not expected at the reception, officials said.
“It’s well known that our governor is a rock and roll fan, so this event will be an opportunity to have some fun while raising money for our amazing Democratic candidates across the state,’’ said Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party. “And where better to do that than at an amazing rock show at one of the best music venues in the Northeast.”
Lamont was touring a Hartford cafe near Dunkin’ Donuts Park last week when he was directed to a large record collection in the back of the cafe. He enthusiastically looked through the vinyl record albums by the Talking Heads and The B-52s, whose hit “Love Shack’' was released in 1989.
Lamont told The Courant that he has his own record collection but some of the records are “worn out’' from being played so often in his younger days.
Lamont never got to the famed Woodstock festival as a 15-year-old teenager, but he made up for it in August 2019 by staging a major celebration 50 years later as Connecticut’s governor.
It wasn’t Yasgur Farm in upstate New York, and the crowd wasn’t “half a million strong” as the song says, but Lamont tried to recreate the spirit of the rock festival at the namesake of the annual Woodstock Fair near the Rhode Island and Massachusetts borders. The governor stepped onto the large stage to greet the crowd, which was estimated by officials at about 1,500 in the concert area as thousands more visited other sections of the expansive fair grounds.
“Woodstock — 50 years ago!” Lamont announced to the crowd. “Three days of peace, love and music. Well, we’ve got a few differences here. ... At Woodstock, now the grass is on the ground where it belongs.”
Lamont, now 68, explained later that his parents had blocked him from attending the original, multiday, psychedelic festival.
“That’s absolutely true,” he said. “I’m still gnashing my teeth 50 years later. My father looked at me like I was nuts.”
A wealthy business entrepreneur from Greenwich, Lamont personally financed the 50th anniversary event in Connecticut, including $17,000 in prize money for the multiple bands that included $7,500 for the winners.
On the stage, Lamont announced that rock star Janis Joplin did not play one of her most famous songs at Woodstock, but he asked the crowd to join him in the song.
“Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?’’ Lamont sang as the crowd joined in. “My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends. Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?”
On July 29, the crowd is expected to sing along with the Steve Miller Band.
Christopher Keating can be reached at email@example.com