Westport Rocks The Music World

Westport may not be the center of the musical universe.

But last night, it sure came close.

Darlene Love’s first live performance in 2 years thrilled a sold-out Levitt Pavilion crowd.

The Levitt Pavilion was packed, on a beautiful evening. (Photo/JC Martin)

The singer — who turns 80 this month — gave one of the most memorable performances in the outdoor venue’s 47-year history.

Mixing her Phil Spector hits with gospel and more recent Stevie Van Zandt songs, she owned the stage with a powerful, wide-ranging voice and engaging banter.

Darlene Love in action. (Photo/JC Martin)

As befitting a former backup singer — if you haven’t seen “20 Feet From Stardom,” why not?! — she gave extended solos to a pair of future stars.

Darlene Love’s backup singers got their own star turns. (Photo/JC Martin)

Darlene Love was clearly delighted to be back on stage. And — because there are always Westport connections beyond the obvious — one of the key members of her rock-the-house band was our neighbor, saxophonist Crispin Cioe.

Saxophonist Crispin Cioe (left) is a huge Darlene Love fan. (Photo/Dan Woog)

He once called Darlene Love his “soul and inspiration.” He’s played with her for over 30 years.

And yes, they both gave a rousing rendition of that Righteous Brothers/Phil Spector song of the same name last night.

A pre-show announcement warned concert-goers that, because of COVID, there would be no dancing in front of the stage. So these fans — all probably born years after Darlene Love sang with the Crystals — danced in their own pod. (Photo/JC Martin)


Meanwhile, an hour or so earlier and a couple of miles away, Soundview Drive was the stage for a concert of a different kind.

More than half a dozen Broadway stars sang from the front lawn of Karen Elizaga and her husband, Jay Ptashek.

Broadway stars on Soundview Drive. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Mixing familiar show tunes with humor — it’s not every day that cars and trucks pass between singers and audience — the singers wowed a crowd arranged in beach chairs, across the street on Compo Beach.

6-year old Chloe Silverstein, and a small part of the large crowd on Compo Beach. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Among the performers: Staples High School graduate Mia Gentile (“Kinky Boots”) and Karen and Jay’s own daughter, Sloane Ptashek.

Mia Gentile, a proud Staples Players alum. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Admission was free. But anyone could make (and still can!) donations to  Broadway for Arts Education. The non-profit provides arts education to underserved youth in New York, Haiti and India.

Host Karen Elizaga and her husband, Jay Ptashek. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

7 responses to “Westport Rocks The Music World

  1. Simply a wonderful evening of music. Karen and Jay hosted a fun event and the music and setting was incredible. The Darlene Love concert at the Levitt was one of the best shows ever to grace the Epstein stage. Everyone must watch 20 Feet from Stardom to learn more about Darlene. A great evening of music on all fronts in Westport.

  2. Elaine Marino

    Darlene told the crowd that the concert was her first since COVID. She wore stilettos and rocked the stage. She is truly a legend. It was a great night!

    • Thomas Carey

      Darlene Love was great and a true professional. Backup singer Milton Van did a rendition of a Sam Cooke classic that brought the house down.

  3. Mary Sikorski

    Such a great evening and fantastic performance by Darlene Love at the Levitt last night. Bravo to all involved who made this wonderful summer evening such a huge success!

  4. Valerie O'Halloran

    Our hearts are dancing and so are our feet when you’ve got the amazing Darlene Love and her spectacular band making music!!!

  5. Frank Mioli

    Wish I was there. I truly miss conversing with you guys (my extended-extended family)! Hope to stay more locally in touch. Peace & Love Always, Frank Mioli 🖖🧔🍕