Families danced and sang along to live music by rock legend John Waite, the popular country band Thompson Square, and the talented local bands American Honey and Bad Boy Saturday evening at the Jam at the Dam at Z-Topia, the former Stevenson Lumber property on Monroe Turnpike, which has been transformed to a center for business and entertainment.
The rain held off for the event, organized by husband and wife, Greg and Peggi Gnandt. Golf carts shuttled concert-goers from the parking lot at the top of the hill to the activities down below in a day that featured vendors, food trucks, the Litchfield County Axe House mobile axe throwing truck, games of cornhole and two beer and wine tents.
The National Anthem was performed by singer Sandy Quinonez.
See the photo gallery capturing images from the shows at the end of this article.
“This may be our first, but certainly not our last,” Peggi Gnandt said of the concert. “Everything ran smoothly, it was a success as a whole. Everyone of varying ages enjoyed themselves. The feedback was positive.”
She said both Thompson Square and John Waite praised Z-Topia as a venue they would enthusiastically come back. “It was just very unique and they loved it,” Gnandt said of the atmosphere.
Businessman George Zwally hosted the Jam at the Dam.
“We were able to limit ticket sales, keeping an intimate setting,” Zwally said.
Police officers directed traffic and Zwally said, “we also kept security tight, so the artists were able to walk around and interact with the fans. This would not be possible at a large venue. Everyone that worked on this project was top notch!”
“This was a pilot test and only a limited number of tickets were sold, because it was a new event,” Peggi Gnandt said. “It went very well. We definitely plan to have more family friendly events on this property.”
Waite’s birthday was July 4, so Gnandt bought him a gift bag with a bottle of one of his favorite wines, a 2019 Domaine Du Pegau Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Cuvee Reserve.
Waite’s autographed artwork was sold at the show, including works he created inside his trailer, according to Gnandt.
“They were such lovely, down to earth people,” she said of Waite and his bandmates. “They were wonderful. These guys were in their sports coats and they performed an unbelievable show and they were so gracious.”
The music started with American Honey, a country, pop, rock group from Groton.
“They were unbelievable,” Gnandt said. “They came and played and went from Monroe to the Mohegan Sun to play a second show.”
Though American Honey performed at Wolfe park the week before, Gnandt said the group is not as well known in this area. “They were unbelievably powerful,” she said, adding the audience seemed impressed.
She shares similar feelings for Bad Boy, a local band that plays rock and country hits.
“We’re friends with them,” Gnandt said. “They played at the Barnum Festival. We loved them so much we said, ‘would you guys be interested in coming?’ In a split second they said yes. They’re awesome. They’re a great band.”
Food and merch
Among the merchants at the Jam at the Dam were Bling it On! which sold unique jewelry and accessories; Because I Soy So, Candles; Bob’s Jerky for a Cause; Phire in the Hole hot sauces; Carolina’s Jewelry; Plain & Fancy Boutique; Pure by Sasha-Aromatherapy; Manny Mixes nonalcoholic drink mixes; and Meg’s accessories, handbags and jewelry.
Gnandt said Because I Soy So took down the names of those who bought candles and set their purchases aside, so customers didn’t have to carry it around during the show on the hot day.
They and other retailers like Bling it On! and Bob’s Jerky for a Cause waited for their customers to pick everything up after the event.
Gnandt said she and her husband always invite a nonprofit to their events and Saturday featured Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary of Middlebury. “We donated and others can through Facebook,” she said.
“The food truck vendors knocked it out of the park,” she said. “They all want to come back. That, to me, is a huge success because I want the vendors to do well.”
She praised The Sausage Kings, who came from Bayside, N.Y., and helped to setup the Bayside Lemonade stand.
This N That Catering by Maria Batista brought 40 pounds of chicken cutlets, according to Gnandt.
Some others included The Blind Rhino, a Norwalk food vendor known for its chicken wings; Szabo’s Seafood of Shelton, and The Parlor – A Rolling Joint brick oven pizza of Stratford.
Gnandt said a taco truck, La Birriamania also did well Saturday. Desserts were sold by Little Kernal’s kettle corn and Micalizzi’s Italian Ice.
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