Charlie Karp Rocks The Levitt

When Charlie Karp died in March, his many friends were devastated.

The Westport native left Staples High School early in his junior year, to play with Buddy Miles. Though he had an extraordinary musical career — playing at Jimi Hendrix’s funeral; writing, recording, teaching and, especially, performing with the world’s greats — he always came back to Fairfield County.

So it was appropriate that last night’s tribute concert took place at the Levitt Pavilion. Charlie’s longtime friend and collaborator Brian Keane — himself a Grammy-winning artist, songwriter and producer — put together a remarkable event.

Roger Ball of the Average White Band (lead sax) joined Fred Scerbo, Ricky Alfonso and Joey Melotti for “Pick up the Pieces.” (Photo/Dan Woog)

From Germany, Nashville and plenty of other places, Charlie’s friends and admirers canceled gigs and rearranged schedules. More than 70 vocalists, gospel singers, keyboardists, percussionists, horn players and (especially) guitarists flew and drove to Westport.

Westport native Barry Tashian fronted the Remains, who opened for the Beatles. He then played for many years with the Flying Burrito Brothers and Emmylou Harris. Long before all that, he was Charlie Karp’s guitar teacher. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Their list of credits is eye-popping. They’ve played and recorded with, or opened for, everyone from the Beatles, Doors, James Brown, Smokey Robinson and Roberta Flack to Wynton Marsalis, the New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops and London Symphony Orchestra.

The Reunion Band — formed originally with Charlie Karp’s very talented Staples High Class of 1971 professional musician classmates — reunited, and added a few members. (Photo/Dan Woog)

With just one rehearsal, the musicians — many of whom knew each other, but had never played together — delivered one of the Levitt’s most powerful, pulsating shows ever.

Julie Aldworth McClenathan and Bonnie Housner Erickson were Charlie Karp’s classmates at Staples. (Photo/Dan Woog)

It even included a tribute from Charlie’s friend Keith Richards. He was otherwise engaged, on tour with his band the Rolling Stones.

The Good News Gospel Choir added their talents too. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The benefit raised funds for a scholarship in Charlie’s name. Every year it will help talented student musicians, by providing studio time at the Carriage House in Stamford and Horizon in West Haven.

When he wasn’t playing keyboard, John Lamb was dancing. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Midway through the concert, storm clouds rolled in. Thunderstorms — predicted, and ominous — never materialized. The clouds moved on, and the sky brightened.

“Charlie’s angels,” someone said.

A storm threatened … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… but never came. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Brian Keane (left) produced the tribute concert. Carole Sylvan and Ada Dyer added powerful vocals. (Photo/Dan Woog)

As one of Charlie Karp’s classmates, I was honored to take a turn as one of the MCs. (Photo/Carleigh Welsh)

(Tax-deductible checks made payable to Fairfield County’s Community Foundation [put “Charlie Karp Memorial Fund” in the memo] can be sent to Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, 40 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854. Donations may also be made online at Follow instructions under the donation tab.)

8 responses to “Charlie Karp Rocks The Levitt

  1. John Knofla

    What a great night … ❤️️

  2. Jean Whitehead

    Thank you so much, Dan. (From one of those who couldn’t be there……And thank you for recognizing the bonds between us, from a time we all shared….and for the opportunity to occasionally revisit.) Long live the kindness, smile, and generosity of the incredibly talented Mr. Charlie Karp. 💐💛

  3. Dave Eason

    Such a great night and a whole lot of talent on that stage. Great job by all!

  4. David "Jonesy" Jones

    I am overwhelmed with the support and the outpouring of love from the greatest Staples High school class ever, the class of 71′. Brian Keene was a magnificent promoter and host. Charlie is probably looking down and thinking “what did I get this guy into”. Shout-out to Leslie Schine for a tremendous before party. Also want to thank “The Woog-bone” for all he does for Westport. Finally, to my beautiful wife Jaonie for listening to another story about just how cool “I” really was. Awesome 71er’s!

  5. Charles Taylor

    Yea Barry T. RIP Charlie

  6. Margaret Hart Rynshall

    The concert was incredible thanks to the hard work and coordination efforts of some very special friends, plus the amazing musicians who shared their talents, all in honor of Charlie, made the music even more heartfelt and enjoyable. The sounds coming from the stage were fantastic! And It was great seeing lots of classmates show up for this special event. Charlie would certainly think it was cool. I only wish Fred Cantor could have been there. We missed you! Thanks again, Dan for this tribute.

    • Fred Cantor

      Margaret, thanks so much for your shout out. We were able to see the last three songs plus the encore. And we did run into some fellow ‘71 alums right after the concert. Sorry we didn’t see you at that time.

  7. Thanks so much Dan. It was a fabulous fun filled concert. Mike

    Sent from my iPhone