WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (CelebrityAccess) David Foster, a music legend in and around Connecticut for not only his early ’70s club the Shaboo Inn but for years in the area as a musician, is leaving his mark with the Shaboo Stage in Willimantic, Conn., which will open this weekend and hopefully be part of the state’s culture for years to come.
The stage, in Jilson Park, will have a 9,000 capacity and be positioned 30 minutes east of Hartford, and 25 minutes west of the casinos of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino. Foster stressed that there are few – actually no – outdoor sheds in the state with this capacity, with Live Nation’s nearest amphitheatre catering to the 30,000 range.
Foster has built a career as a musician, including as the frontman for the Foster All Star Band that can include stars like John Cafferty or Michael “Tunes” Antunes and he is the current leader of a band at the Mohegan Sun Casino, but he is a legend in Connecticut for building Shaboo Inn, which had an 11-year run in Willimantic and was the predecessor to the next legendary club, Toad’s Place.
“Shaboo was open from ’71 to 1982 and I’m credited with first plays in Connecticut for Journey, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, Dire Straits, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, just to mention a few,” Foster told CelebrityAccess. “When we first opened the club we booked every living blues legend: Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker. Muddy Waters played there 50 times. Bonnie Raitt 50 times, Hall & Oates.
“Then the people in New York would see the Hartford rag and say we’re booking BB King, Bo Diddley, all these blues guys. ‘This place is hot, let’s throw them some contemporary stuff.’ The William Morris’s of the world would call us. Dr. John, Tower of Power. We made it a very famous venue. I was the first to play The Ramones, the Dead Kennedys.”
It is because of that status that the city has named the new outdoor venue the Shaboo Stage.
“I built a million dollar structure there, permanent stage and roof. It will be there forever and ever,” Foster said. “My vision is to turn it over to the proper people who deal in that capacity. I built it for my friend Jimmy Koplik. I’m not sure if they’re going to end up using it, but he’s going to have first dibs on it. If he wants to make a deal with me and the city, I want to do five evenings a summer, or six. Not that much. Just a summer series that will live forever and ever.”
Foster, who has a limitless trove of cool stories (“I have a poster of Bonnie Raitt and Little Feat, and it was a $2 cover”) has done charity work in the park for 20 years and was happy to continue the tradition.
“We’re just going to do a two-nighter this summer because they had to build it all summer,” he said. “They just finished it last Friday. We’re going to do the two shows this weekend. Basically we’re looking at the summer of 2019.”
The stage is 60′ by 90′ and can hang approximately 18 tons. The ribbon cutting is this weekend with many statewide dignitaries expected to attend.
Foster can be reached at 860-423-5700 and firstname.lastname@example.org