After more than a decade of being one of the region’s most successful and popular fund-raising initiatives, Band Together is disbanding, but not before playing one final show on March 30 for the Center for Family Justice at Vazzano’s Four Seasons in Stratford. Over the 13 years it’s been in existence, Band Together built a legacy that includes raising $3.4 million for non-profits and earning accolades, like the American Red Cross Community Impact Award, plus several Citations of Public Service from the Connecticut General Assembly.
For co-founders Rob Fried and Jerry Vigorito, the break up is mutual and amicable. And both agree that change is inevitable.
Fried, who plays bass guitar, will pursue a similar Band Together initiative with a new direction, called Band Central. “We will continue to play live ‘themed’ shows for charities, and we have a number of events already scheduled in 2019,” he said. “We’ll also add larger ‘concerts for a cause’ and be producing different content like podcasts and videos.”
“Vigorito, who plays harmonica and sings, remains involved in a number of other area bands. “I needed to reconnect with my grateful service on a more personal level,” he said, explaining the break. “I am currently producing a film with my friend, actor Christopher Atkins. In many ways it’s the same as producing a concert event. You’ve just got to know the right people and let them shine.”
Prior to Band Together, the pair performed in several local groups together. “We grew tired of playing clubs only to sell more liquor and pizza for the club owner,” said Vigorito. “We figured that if we could fill a club, why not fill a theater and raise money for a good cause.”
“A particular gig triggered this,” added Fried. “We were standing in the parking lot one night, after a club owner asked us to leave early, and said that he would give us half-pay. He was disappointed in the number of people that came that evening and chose to not honor his commitment to us. Jerry and I looked at each other and said, ‘what are we doing?’”
What they did next was decide to focus their talents for a good cause. The first official Band Together gig was at the Norfield Grange in Weston in March 2006. “We sold about 100 tickets and raised about $3,000 for Habitat for Humanity,” recalled Vigorito, who wasn’t surprised with the success that followed.
“We had momentum, the infrastructure and resources, plus we were the only group in the country performing with such variety and regularity,” he said. “Our success grew out of a grateful community that felt part of the Band Together family. We lifted the hearts of our audience, the performers and the benefactors. It was infectious. A Band Together show just made you feel good.”
“Jerry and I both had a lot of heart and fire. Also, at that time, the live music scene was not as crowded. We developed a great relationship with Fairfield Theatre Company, which became our home base. We have done over 50 shows at FTC,” Fried said.
The pair was able to attract top names to the stage, as well. Some of that star power included John Oates, Ronnie Spector, Joe Bouchard (founder of Blue Oyster Cult), Christine Ohlman, and Will Lee.
“I am proud of what we have done as Band Together and grateful to Jerry and everyone involved for the magic we made happen,” said Fried. “We all need to continue to evolve and learn. So for me, it’s less about Band Together ending, than it is about finding new ways to improve community well-being while having fun playing music.”
“I’m honored to have performed with such a vast and diverse group of talented musicians, in the hundreds. Really, Band Together is Rob and I on the stage together,” Vigorito added. “Simply put, one without the other is not Band Together. I’m going to miss it.”