Westport Sings The Blues

Westport is home to the biggest hedge fund in the world.

We’ve got McMansions up the wazoo, and a town-owned country club with a wonderful inn overlooking Long Island Sound.

Quite a place to sing the blues.

But the blues will be wailin’ this weekend — and down-home barbecue will be served — at (hey, this is still Westport) the Levitt Pavilion and library.

It’s the 4th annual Blues, Views & BBQ Festival.  And — believe it or not — we don’t have to import our bluesmen (and women) from the Delta.  They’re right here in Fairfield County.

Many of them even have Westport ties.

Crispin Cioe gets ready to wail.

There’s music all weekend long.  But the highlight is Crispin Cioe’s Westport Heritage Blues Band (Saturday, 2:20 to 3:35 p.m.).  A musician who has toured and recorded with the Rolling Stones, J. Geils and Albert Collins — and a 10-year Westport resident — Crispin has mined the local music scene for the best bluesmen, r-and-b artists and rockers.

And he’s put them all together in one band.

Charlie Karp dropped out of Staples to play with Buddy Miles, Jimi Hendrix and Love.  It was a great career move:  40 years later, he’s still playing and recording, fronting great bands like White Chocolate and Dirty Angels.

David Hull is from Stratford, but  lived for a while in Westport.  He too played with Jimi and Buddy; he now plays regularly with James Montgomery.

Drummer Kevin Hupp has played here often, including the legendary band Slo Leak with Charlie Karp and studio legend/former Westporter Danny Kortchmar.

John “Ratso” Girardi owns a recording studio in Stamford, and is a Levitt Pavilion favorite.

Special guest Rocky Lawrence is a Bridgeporter.  But listen to this:  He spent the last 10 years with Honeyboy Edwards, a Delta blues guitarist who died last month at 95 — and who played with Robert Johnson.  Rocky will be featured in the Westport Heritage Blues Band’s tribute to that legendary bluesman.

The Buddy Miles Express plays Finnish TV in 1971.  Charlie Karp takes a blistering solo around the 2:52 mark.

So is Westport ready to replace Mississippi and Memphis as a true blues capital?

Not hardly.

Still, the musical spotlight shines here this weekend.  And even thought it’s at the Levitt Pavilion, not some smoky juke joint, that’s fine.

“There’s a tradition of great blues musicians who developed here.  Some still live here,” Crispin says.

“People are drawn to this music.”

Even if they drive Land Rovers, and park them in 4-car garages.

(The 4th annual Blues, Views & BBQ — presented by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — runs Saturday, Sept. 24 from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  In addition to music, there are barbecue competitions for backyard chefs and kids; a food court; a “Kids’ Corral”; rib and pie eating contests — and pig races.  Click here for more details, including ticket prices.) 

A “Playboy After Dark” show.  Charlie Karp is the very long-haired guitar player.  David Hull is the American flag-shirted bassist.  Hugh Hefner is the host.

4 responses to “Westport Sings The Blues

  1. Dan. Don’t blog – write. “Hedge fund” “Westport Blues” “70’s Clips of some ill-mannered, has-been Weston (not Westport) guitar teacher! blah-blah-blah!

  2. Great story! Thank you! Just a reminder that the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival starts FRIDAY 9/23 with Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes! They might be from Jersey but you can toast “The World’s Greatest Bar Band” at two local favorites: Dunvilles & River House. Since we had to move the opening night concert inside (to The Auditorium at Saugatuck School, 170 Riverside), and there’s no food or drink (except water) allowed inside, we lined up $5 beer and house wine at these two generous establishments for all Southside concert-goers to kick off the weekend in style. Just flash your tickets, handstamps or bracelets from Friday’s concert and get the weekend started by havin a party!

  3. So tell me where all these performers are performing the rest of the year? Anywhere in Fairfield County?

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