'A day of endless smiles, hugs and music'06/07/2022 02:41PM ● By Richard Gaw
Photo by Heather Schaen “A Concert for Dennis” is being produced by Dennis Melton's wife Donna and his brother Dale.
By Richard L. Gaw
In the difficult weeks that followed the passing of her husband last May, Donna Melton held two ceremonies to honor the life and impact of Dennis Melton, the long-time architect and community leader.
The first was held on a hot weekend morning in the backyard of their home in Cochranville before close friends and family, and the second took place at Hartefeld National Golf & Country Club that invited more than 100 of Dennis’ long-time partners in business and civic leadership. While both of these ceremonies were solemn and endearing, Donna and Dennis’ brother Dale knew that there needed to be one more tribute to Dennis that would require the calliope clash of guitars, drums, keyboards and harmonious voices tilting their heads to the sky.
For three hours next Sunday, that tribute – the one that will honor Dennis Melton the musician -- will come to life, and it promises to be loud and joyful.
“A Concert for Dennis,” which will be held on June 12 at Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square, will introduce a Who’s Who of more than 25 local musicians to the stage, all of whom have performed and recorded with Melton over the past several decades, including former Hooters’ band member John Lilley, vocalist Alfie Moss and Dale, Donna and Dennis’ son Michael.
Donna said she and Dale were inspired to organize the concert after hearing WVUD radio personality Scott Birney’s on-air tribute to her husband on the day after Dennis’ passing.
“Scott went over the entire chronology of Dennis’ music, all of these different iterations,” she said. “It was extraordinary, and I just knew that we had to acknowledge all that Dennis had achieved as a musician, and create it with the best friends he ever had in making that music.”
The three-hour concert will feature a 15-song set list that will showcase four tunes written by Dennis, including “Gather ‘Round,” “Doin’ the Best I Can,” “Sometimes,” and “Isn’t it Enough,” as well as some of Dennis’ favorite tunes. For Dale, who will serve as the music director for the event, whittling down the entire catalog of his brother’s music came down to choosing from a diverse list.
“It’s a collection of Dennis’ favorite songs and a few of which he wrote,” he said. “When Donna, Michael and I made the final selections, we realized that they are technically easier to perform, but also equally powerful. It will allow us to better put the love into the show.
“Being a bass player and a singer like Dennis was, these two components form the two ends of an ensemble,” he added. “Dennis understood that and brought that to every ensemble he performed with or recorded with. This concert will be easy to perform because Dennis made it easy for every musician he worked with.”
During the concert, a plaque will be unveiled in Dennis’ honor that will be affixed to the park’s performance stage, which he designed and where he hosted and performed several shows as part of the park’s summer concert series. The event will also pay tribute to some of Dennis’ musical colleagues who have recently passed away.
While Donna is well aware that there will be moments throughout the concert that will trigger the reminders of her husband’s absence -- felt not only by her but by several members of the audience and performers who knew Dennis well -- she said June 12 will be about celebration.
“I want this concert to be absolutely joyful,” she said. “On one hand, it will signify the end of the tributes to Dennis, and while that will be hard, it will also be beautiful to come together with musicians we haven’t worked with before or not in years, and create something wonderful.
“This is going to be a day of endless smiles, hugs and music.”
“A Concert for Dennis” will be held on June 12 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the performance stage at Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square. In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be held at The Kennett Flash. Food and beverages will be available at the concert. Admission is free, and donations will be welcome to benefit The Kennett Flash and the Melton Terrace at the new Kennett Library & Resource Center.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].