The blues are coming to Westport.
And not just any blues — these are Mark Naftalin’s. This is big-time.
On Sunday, September 18 (3 to 5 p.m.), the Westport Library presents Mark Naftalin’s Blue Sunday. It’s the first in a monthly series of concerts, all produced and hosted by musician/producer/radio host Mark Naftalin.
The kickoff event features guitarists Chance Browne (The Twinkies, Hi and Lois artist), Chris “Otis” Cross (Otis and the Hurricanes) and Paul Gabriel (Blue In The Face, Paul Gabriel Blues Band, Connecticut Blues Society Lifetime Achievement Award); harmonicists Manny Foglio (Manny and the Mojomatics) and Mark Zaretsky (Cobalt Rhythm Kings); bassists David Anastasia (Mojomatics, Walter Lewis Blues Trio, The Zero Boys); percussionists Matt Moadel (Portal) and Barry Urich (Blue In The Face, Jose Feliciano); accordionist-pianist-vocalist Smokin’ Joe Najmy (Otis and the Hurricanes, Mill River Band); sax master Crispin Cioe (Albert Collins, James Cotton, Uptown Horns, Cracked Ice); washboard wizard Washboard Slim (Washboard Slim & The Blue Lights) — and Naftalin himself on piano.
He played keyboard with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The path-breaking interracial Butterfield Band opened doors for blues masters like B.B. King and Muddy Waters. Naftalin later recorded and/or performed with Michael Bloomfield, James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Percy Mayfield, Carla Thomas, Irma Thomas, Otis Rush, Big Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner and many others.
In 2015 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
Living and working in the Bay Area, Naftalin produced over 1,300 blues radio broadcasts on 3 FM stations, and over 30 blues festivals. His Blue Sunday at the Westport Library is a nod to those years.
In 2002, he and his wife Ellen moved to her hometown: Westport. The Mark Naftalin Show is now in its 7th year on WPKN (89.5 FM).
Blue Sunday capitalizes on the success of the Library’s Verso Studios music and media festival VersoFest, and the adventurous Chris Frantz Presents Emerging Musicians series.