‘The First Waltz’ comes to Trackside

Wilton resident Andy Schlesinger hopes the first Wilton Rocks for Food charity concert, scheduled for Dec. 5 at Trackside Teen Center, won’t be the last. That’s why he called it The First Waltz, a moniker that plays on the title of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee the Band’s good-bye show and the namesake rockumentary directed by Martin Scorsese.

“The reason we’re calling it The First Waltz is we’re hoping there’s a second and a third and fourth,” said Schlesinger, who is organizing the event.

It all started with a Craigslist ad and several posts on the Wilton 411 and 412 Facebook pages. Schlesinger said he needed musicians, graphic designers, sponsors, and volunteers for a fund-raising rock concert that would benefit the Connecticut Food Bank and the Wilton Interfaith Food Pantry.

“I don’t know why,” Schlesinger said. “It was a weird epiphany I had. I’m a musician; it’s my passion. I’ve supported the Connecticut Food Bank a little in the past. It’s a nice local charity. That’s what I like about it; it’s local.”

The staff at Trackside liked his idea and donated space, transmogrifying what was at that point in time a simple thought into a full-blown reality. Ever since then Schlesinger has been hard at work soliciting the night’s entertainment. He has also launched a web page for ticket sales and donations and printed posters with a graphic designed specially for the event.

“Another reason why we’re calling it The First Waltz is that, like in the movie, we’re going to have guest musicians coming up on stage and jamming with the band,” Schlesinger said.

The Last Waltz featured cameos from Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, and more than a dozen other significant artists of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Similarly, Schlesinger’s First Waltz will feature full Wilton-based acts but also individuals who want to come up and do a song or two with the house band, which will be comprised of Schlesinger himself on guitar along with two other Wilton residents on bass and drums.

“There’s going to be professional-caliber guys, like myself and other guys who used to do this for a living,” Schlesinger said, “but the beauty is you’re also going to have the people who are getting to live a fantasy, who don’t play in a band but want to get up on a stage and jam. It’s open to absolutely everyone, regardless of age or talent. The only discrimination is you have to be a Wilton resident, and, of course, you have to be at least 21.”

Schlesinger said he’s received requests from bands and solo artists outside of town who want to join him onstage, but at this point the event is becoming too big for them to be able to participate, though he is hopeful there will be more room for them in the future.

“I’ve had musicians from other towns say, ‘Hey, we want to be a part of this,’ and I said, ‘No, this year it’s just too much.’ If we succeed, next year I’d hope to make it a little bigger,” he said. “I have over 20 musicians already. I’ve got three or four Wilton bands and then I’ve got eight or 10 people at least, individuals, who want to play, in various combinations, and it’s only Oct. 9.”

While also working to collect items for a potential silent auction the night of the concert, Schlesinger is still actively seeking a sponsor or sponsors to donate food and alcohol for the event’s purposes.

Schlesinger has lived in Wilton for six years with his wife, Kim, daughter, Natalie, and son, Pearson. He has worked as a professional guitar player and audio engineer.

“There’s some guys in Wilton who can really play; there’s a lot of top-notch musicians in this town. It’s pretty amazing. I’m excited to see them play,” Schlesinger said.

Tickets may be purchased and donations made by visiting BrownPaperTickets.com/event/2348216. Musicians interested in performing at The First Waltz may email Schlesinger directly at sleshnyc@gmail.com.

The minimum donation suggested for admission is $50. The time of the event is 8 p.m.