VersoFest Schedule: Get Ready To Rock (And Rap) (And Dance)

When organizers brought everyone from Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker to Joan Baez, Ravi Shankar and Sha Na Na to Woodstock, the world thought that was very cool.

The Westport Library’s 2nd annual VersoFest won’t feature skinny dipping, bad acid and mud.

But the 4-day event promises a lineup at least as broad as Woodstock’s, plus panels, workshops and other events about an across a wide array of media and platforms. It’s our town’s special festival — 2023-style.

Running from March 30 through April 2, VersoFest ncludes Sunflower Bean and the Smithereens; androgynous rock fashion, and hip hop’s 50th anniversary, and something for both Deadheads and gearheads.

Last year’s inaugural event drew thousands to the Library’s Trefz Forum, and meeting rooms throughout the building. This year’s VersoFest — named for Verso Studios, the state-of-the-art media facility — builds on that creative start.

Sunflower Bean kicks it all off on Thursday, March 30. Hot off headlining at South by Southwest, they’ll follow Americana opening act Amilia K Spicer, and vinyl DJ Miriam Linna.

On Friday, the Smithereens — featuring Marshall Crenshaw — keep VersoFest’s energy sky-high.

Saturday and Sunday are jammed with panel and workshop programming. Highlights a keynote conversation. Steve Lillywhite — whose producing credits include the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, U2, the Dave Matthews Band and Phish — will chat with Chris Frantz, co-founder of both Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club.

Earlier in the day, Steven Van Zandt’s educational foundation, TeachRock, offers a presentation on the Dead’s 3-story, 28,800-watt hot-rodded PA system. (Anthony Coscia’s scale model recreation will also play music throughout VersoFest.)

Anthony Coscis with his Wall of Sound.

New York Times trend reporter Rachel Felder will host a panel on “Evolving Rock Fashion: From Marianne Faithfull to Debbie Harry to Lizzo.

Artist Dylan Hundley moderates a photography panel that includes Westport native Michael Friedman, whose “lost negatives” from the 1960s form the basis of a stunning upcoming book.

Saturday night showcases “Laser Stranger Things” and “Laser Floyd” shows. Both feature music of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” series, and the music of Pink Floyd.

Alice Cooper fans get a two-er: an exhibition of costumes, props, instruments, unpublished photos and more on Saturday and Sunday, plus a screening of the documentary “Live from the Astroturf” (and a Q-and-A and book signing with bassist Dennis Dunaway, on Sunday. (His Blue Coupe group, with Joe and Albert Bouchard of Blue Öyster Cult, play a pre-VersoFest fundraiser March 10.)

Norton Records co-founder Miriam Linna — whose roots in rock, garage, punk and R&B run deep — is the subject of a Music Oral History with Beehive Queen and “Saturday Night Live” singer Christine Ohlman (returning after her memorable 2022 VersoFest appearance).

Christine Ohlman

Early Sunday evening half a century of hip hop is celebrated with a Legends Beats and Grooves block (scratch DJ demonstrations and discussions).

All day Sunday, vinyl dealers will sell and trade their records. All weekend long, workshops cover topics like “Writing for Independent Film,” “TV/Media Production,” “Podcast, Streaming and Radio,” and “The Business of Music.”

Concerts and workshops are ticketed events; panels and keynotes are free.

A cash bar will be available all 4 nights of the festival. Food trucks in the parking lot will augment the Library Café. VersoFest concerts are co-produced with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

And remember that memorable scene in “Woodstock,” with the guy who was cleaning Port-a-Sans?

All Westport Library bathrooms will be open — and cleaned regularly — during VersoFest.

(Click here (and see below) for the full schedule, and ticket information.)

(“06880” rocks Westport. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

2 responses to “VersoFest Schedule: Get Ready To Rock (And Rap) (And Dance)

  1. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Drip, drip, drip. Serious progress toward fulfilling the social control apparatchik formerly known as “the library.”

  2. Twice have I purposefully attended a music event at Westport Library and both experiences prompted immediate feedback to the librarian and the event coordinator: “Half the volume please, next time, I am leaving now.”

    Many other times I accidentally arrived at the library during a performance to experience the same: audio blasted twice as loud as normal, pleasurable, music listening can occur. Does anyone else recall being driven out of Westport library Trefz Forum’s cavernous booming super bass body stressing over amplified distortion of what was otherwise an excellent music performance?

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