Doobies, Meatloaf, Buckwheat And Willie Share A Westport Stage

On Sunday, Jose Feliciano lights a (figurative) fire under the new Levitt Pavilion stage.

The singer/guitarist/songwriter is a very appropriate act for the already-sold-out grand opening of the redesigned bandshell (and — be still, my heart and bladder) actual bathrooms. He’s popular, talented and a fantastic performer.

Jose Feliciano (Photo/David Bravo)

Jose Feliciano (Photo/David Bravo)

But the Weston resident — who is donating his fee back to the pavilion’s building fund — is hardly the 1st Very Big Name to appear at the Levitt. In fact, a look back at nearly 40 years of headliners reads like a Billboard Who’s Who.

Foreigner. Frankie Valli. The Doobie Brothers. Southside Johnny. Blues Traveler. Tom Jones. Don McLean. Kenny Loggins. Smokey Robinson. Roberta Flack. Tito Puente. Judy Collins. Al Hirt. Cab Calloway. Andy Williams. Ray Charles. Count Basie. Buddy Rich. All have performed benefit concerts (the only time the Levitt sells tickets, though some folks sit on Jesup Green and enjoy the concerts gratis).

Some artists did not have to travel far. In fact, they could have walked to the Levitt. Michael Bolton, Ashford & Simpson, Meatloaf, Corky Laing and Neil Sedaka are Westporters who headlined Levitt shows. Dave Brubeck lived in Wilton.

Keith Richards

Keith Richards

Weston’s Keith Richards made a memorable appearance at a Willie Nelson concert. (Willie drove here in his famed tour bus.) Keith ambled onstage with his guitar, said “I’ve always wanted to play with Willie,” and performed 2 memorable duets. You can’t make this stuff up.

Some of the shows were not as memorable — hey, it happens. The Drifters and Temptations may have included an actual Drifter and Tempt, but they were clearly past their sell-by date.

So were the Beach Boys, who had the misfortune of being moved to the stifling Staples fieldhouse because of bad weather.

Chuck Berry and Little Richard were the actual guys, but they too were a bit long in the tooth.

Yet those few dogs are more than overshadowed by the dozens of great shows. Not many suburban towns boast open-air, summer shows by Huey Lewis & the News, America, Dave Mason, the Four Tops, Dickey Betts, the Chieftains, Chuck Mangione, John Sebastian, Robert Goulet and Tony Bennett.

Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco

My favorite memory, though, may be Buckwheat Zydeco. It’s a long way from Louisiana to Westport, and this might have been the whitest audience he ever saw. But he and his band — with their accordion, guitar, keyboard and (my favorite) washboard — had hedge fund managers, housewives (and househusbands) dancing in the grassy aisles.

Those aisles are now re-sodded. There’s a new stage, concession stands, and (did I mention this earlier?) actual bathrooms.

On Sunday, there will also be Jose Feliciano. And the start of another 4 decades of remarkable entertainment, down by the river.

(No free tickets remain for Sunday’s Jose Feliciano concert. To join the wait list, email levitt@westportct.gov. The lawn opens to ticket-holders at 5 pm. Click the Levitt Pavilion website to see more upcoming attractions. )

 

 

 

6 responses to “Doobies, Meatloaf, Buckwheat And Willie Share A Westport Stage

  1. jeffreylauniere

    I remember many shows at the Levitt. Though I moved from Westport many years ago, there were some great memories of Westport, and the Levitt Pavilion was one of those.

    Thanks for the great reporting.

  2. Perhaps in this venue someone from the Levitt staff will respond to my two phone calls and one email from July 8, inquiring about the tickets? So far I’ve heard nothing.

    I called and wrote two emails asking for an update since I was rather keen to see the concert. I was told there was a “glitch” in the system, and it would be working until 2 pm. Well, it was not working at 2 pm. The link wasn’t up and running until late at night apparently, after I had already tried many times and went to sleep. By 6 am on the morning of July 9th, all tickets were “sold out”.

    I’m left to my own conclusions that it’s another famous Westport scenario of it”s not what you know, it’s who.

    I wonder how quickly someone would call me back to reconsider the $3000 donation I was considering.

  3. Stephanie Bass

    Chuck Berry was VERY hot in concert. And positively dirty when female members of the audience came on stage to dance w/ him (not me — big op lost…)

  4. I agree Buckwheat Zydeco was one of the best shows ever at the Levitt…. When did Huey Lewis play!!! Kenny Loggins was a fun one too

  5. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I believe that Donna Summer performed at the Levitt for one of their fundraisers and she was a resident of Westport back then.

    • Audrey Hertzel

      Hey Dan, once again your blog reached Westporters before the “other town news site” did and, therefore, a lot of your followers were able to get tickets…including me! You’re awesome..and the woman I spoke to from the Levitt Pavilion thinks so too! P.S. Tickets were gone in 12 hours–most of them probably to your followers!