Category Archives: Entertainment

Darlene Love Headlines Next Levitt Benefit

You may not know Darlene Love’s name (though you should).

You sure know her music. Under Phil Spector, she sang lead on the Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel.” She worked with everyone from Sam Cooke, Dionne Warwick and the Beach Boys to Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Sonny & Cher. She performed on Broadway (“Hairspray,” “Grease,” and as herself in the first jukebox musical ever, “Leader of the Pack”), then won a Grammy for her featured role in the Oscar-winning “20 Feet From Stardom,” about backup singers.

Darlene Love

The New York Times said: “Darlene Love’s thunderbolt voice is as embedded in the history of rock and roll as Eric Clapton’s guitar or Bob Dylan’s lyrics.”

Oh, yeah. She’s ranked among Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers. And in 2011, she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

On July 16, Darlene Love comes to the Levitt Pavilion. It’s a benefit performance that helps support dozens of nights of free programs. Tickets go on sale today (Monday, June 21) at 2 p.m. Click here for details, and to purchase.

So what free programs will Darlene Love’s show support?

Here’s the rest of June:

  • June 22: Treehouse Comedy
  • June 24: Aztec Two-Step 2.0, featuring Westport’s own Dodie Pettit and Rex Fowler
  • June 25: PJ Pacifico (full band show)
  • June 26: Nicole Henry
  • June 27: Bunky Griptite Orchestra
  • June 29: Suzanne Sheridan Band
  • June 30: Grammy winner Joanie Leeds —  Children’s Series launch.

For free tickets to those June shows, more details, and a calendar for July and August, click here.

Roundup: Yankee Doodle Fair, All-Americans, River Cleanup …

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Big news from the Westport Woman’s Club: They held their first monthly luncheon in over a year.

Bigger news: The Yankee Doodle Fair is back!

The century-old event — Westport’s traditional last week of school/beginning of summer carnival — was canceled last year and this, due to COVID.

But the WWC has arranged for all the rides, games and cotton candy vendors to come this fall. The 2021 Yankee Doodle Fair is set for September 23 to 26.

As usual, all profits go toward grants and scholarships. It’s a great fundraiser, by an amazing group.

This fall’s Yankee Doodle Fair will be a great way to ring in the new school year. To raise money for those in need. And of course, to try to win one of those very elusive stuffed animals.

The Yankee Doodle Fair takes over the Imperial Avenue parking lot. (Photo/Lee Scharfstein)

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Westport Paddle Club’s first-ever Saugatuck River cleanup yesterday was trashy.

The Riverside Avenue rental and lesson facility supplied dozens of people with kayaks. They headed upstream, collecting trash along the way.

A thunderstorm sent them back to shore before everyone was done. Still, they filled barrels with “stuff.” Some of it was brush; much of it was man-made (and man-tossed).

Jr’s Deli fed the crowd. Rain cut short the reggae band. But the most important work was done.

And next year, it will have to be done all over again.

A small sampling of the large amount of trash collected from the Saugatuck River.

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Most high school sports teams are lucky to have one All-American, every decade or so.

Before this year, Staples boys lacrosse had 5 since 2010.

This spring, they added 3 more.

Congratulations to the Wreckers’ newest All-American athletes: recent graduate JP Kosakowski, and rising seniors Henry Dodge and Charlie Howard!

 

(From left) Henry Dodge, Charlie Howard, JP Kosakowski (Photos/Shelley Burger)

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Summer is here! Well, it arrives at 11:32 p.m. tonight, anyway.

To celebrate, the Minute Man donned a beach-type necklace.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

PS: I’m sure that, as usual, a commenter will write in about this “desecration” of our town’s monument.

Ever since 1910, our Minute Man has been decorated. He’s worn Santa caps and Easter bunny years. He’s had flags draped over his shoulders, and flowers stuck in his musket.

Without going all First Amendment here, he fought for the right to be free. I think he would be pleased.

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Tomorrow is worldwide “Make Music Day.” There are more than 1,000 events, in over 120 countries.

Unfortunately, there is no specific Westport celebration. But residents Louis Fuertes and Pat Blaufuss — members of the 4-person band Picnic on the 4th of July — will perform at Old Post Tavern in Fairfield (7 to 8 p.m.).

The CUkes — a ukulele group that originated at the Westport Weston Family YMCA — entertain in the Nordstrom Courtyard of The SoNo Collection mall (Norwalk, 6 p.m.).

And Talking Heads members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth — who live just over the line in Fairfield — are part of an international “This Moment in Time” musical event. Click here for details.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature finds a pair of egrets enjoying Compo Beach.

(Photo/Stephen Raffel)

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And finally … in honor of international “Make Music Day”:

Pics Of The Day #1522

One person said, “I feel like I’m in Key West.”

Another likened it to Burlington, Vermont. A third said “Italy.”

But all were on Church Lane tonight.

Perfect temperatures and a light breeze brought a big crowd to the blocked-off street.

Restaurants were packed. Music played. Franny’s Farmacy celebrated its 1-year anniversary. Kids played cornhole by Savannah Bee.

It felt like summer in Westport — just better, more appreciated, and more welcoming than ever.

Young kids posed as Staples High School graduate and recording artist Drew Angus played by Spotted Horse … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… and then danced in the street (Photo/Jordan Schur)

 

Franny’s Farmacy family and friends gathered for the hemp wellness store’s 1 year anniversary celebration. It continues tomorrow, with events from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Photo/Dan Woog)

 

Friday Flashback #249

It’s one of Westport’s lost, mostly forgotten mysteries: Pearl Bailey’s early-1950s recording of “I Caught Her in the Kitchen Playing Westport.”

It was even the subject of a previous Friday Flashback. But all I had were the lyrics. Even YouTube — where you can find anything — came up blank.

Today — thanks to the magic of Ellen and Mark Naftalin, and Miggs Burroughs — all of “06880” (and the world) can hear the sultry tune.

Ellen and Mark — longtime Westporters and musicians; she’s also a historian, he’s a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band — found the song.

In an album in their very own collection. It’s called — appropriately — “More Songs for Adults Only.”

Miggs turned the vinyl into an Mp3.

Click below to listen.

And if you want to sing along with Pearl, the lyrics are below.

There’s a little ranch house in the vale,
Pretty little ranch house up for sale;
All the shutters drawn,
Tenants all gone
And thereby hangs a long, unhappy tale.

‘Cause he caught her in the kitchen playing Westport,
A game indigenous to suburban life,
Where you take a wife of whom you’re not the husband,
While someone else’s husband takes your wife.

Some people may claim that the name of the game is Scarsdale,
Or Beverly Hills, or even Shaker Heights,
But commuters from Manhattan call it Westport.
And it’s the game that some of our local leading lights play
To while away those cold Connecticut nights.

Now in that little ranch house used to dwell
An advertising feller and his Nell.
Two kids and a pup, living it up,
And everything was sounder than a bell —
‘Til he caught her in the kitchen playing Westport
Between the washing machine and thermostat.

The husband thought it really was an outrage.
Said he, “You might at least remove your hat!”
Well, they may play it that way in Great Neck,
While in Levittown they’d never think it odd.
But there is not an architect in Westport
Who’ll ever forgive the cad that said, “My God! Sir.
I must have got the wrong cape cod!”

Since they are no longer groom and bride,
Quoting from the Sunday classified:
“Are there any takers
For three lovely acres
Of peaceful old New England countryside?”
‘Cause he caught her in the kitchen playing Westport
Which would ordinarily be a cause for gloom;
But though the sanctity of wedlock’s on the downgrade,
Currently housing is enjoying quite a boom!

And while they defame the name of the game in Boston,
Where naturally they think it’s a dirty shame,
In the green and fertile pastures of suburbia
The local dealers in real estate acclaim
It the best thing since the FHA, hey,

Westport is a grand old …
‘Midst pleasures and palaces …
Westport is a grand old game.

Roundup: Senior Center, Morningside South, Joey’s Delivery …

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It’s the news seniors have been waiting for.

Starting July 1, the Senior Center will reopen. It’s limited, sure — but it will be wonderful for the thousands of Westporters who rely on our great center.

The phased reopening will include in-house, outdoor, hybrid, televised and Zoom classes all summer long.

Director Sue Pfister and her staff have meticulously established safety protocols. They includes enhanced air-handlers, sanitizers, and other CDC-guided precautions.

There’s also a canopy over part of the back patio, to extend outdoor space.

The congregate luncheon program will remain closed until September. In addition, summer plans will not include drop-in visits or congregating during the initial reopening phase. Water fountains will not be available, so participants are encouraged to bring a water bottle from home.

Senior Center participants must pre-register with the new registration system MyActiveCenter (https://myactivecenter.com/) to sign up for activities, classes, and programs.  For instructions and a list of upcoming courses, please visit www.westportct.gov/seniorcenter or call 203-341-5099.

Back in action soon!

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For months, Westporters have wondered about the fate of the Kowalsky property. The large tract of land on Morningside Drive South and Clapboard Hill Road is some of the last privately owned open space in town.

Part of it is now on the market. The real estate listing says:

Perc tests and a Conceptual Plan are now available outlining a proposed 8 Bedroom home, Infinity Edge Swimming Pool and Septic. Build your dream home on this prestigious 2.0 Acre property in a well established Greens Farms neighborhood.

This property is truly majestic with part ownership of a man made pond, and several character outbuildings. This sought after location is less than a mile to Metro North/Greens Farms train station and Burying Hill Beach. Two homes on Morningside Drive South (# 90 and # 88) have SOLD within the year, both currently in stages of being torn down for over a million dollars an acre. There is value here on this special piece of land.

This is a Land listing. The home on the property is ‘As Is’. As with any Land listing, buyers to perform their own due diligence.

117 Morningside Drive South.

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Plenty of people like Hook’d on the Sound, the new Compo Beach concessionaire.

Plenty do not like the fact that it closes at 6 p.m.

The previous snack bar tenant — Joey’s by the Shore — stayed open till dark. Two years ago, he relocated to the former Elvira’s, around the corner across from Old Mill Beach.

Now Joey’s has introduced a delivery service to Compo. It’s available Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

You can order online. Enter “2 Soundview Drive” as the delivery address. Your food will be delivered — in a thermal bag, with no extra charge — at the pickup/ dropoff location next to the Compo volleyball courts.

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The undefeated, nationally ranked Staples High School rugby team kicked off its national tournament quest in Kansas City yesterday with a 26-22 win against St. Thomas Aquinas. The Wreckers are ranked #5; Aquinas was #4. The temperature at the start was 100.

Little Barn The Little Barn in Westport is the local site for viewing. The next match is tonight (6 p.m.), against #1 Herriman from Utah.

Watching yesterday’s game at Little Barn. (Photo/Terry Brannigan)

Previewing the tournament, a rugby publication described Staples as “the best-kept secret of the tournament. (They have) compiled one heck of a season up in Connecticut. Winners over big dogs Xavier, Greenwich, and Fairfield, these boys are battle-tested and battle-accomplished. Jot them down as your dark horse now.”

For more information on the national rugby tournament, click here.

Staples rugby in action, earlier this year.

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Wakeman Town Farm kicks off its farm stand season tomorrow (Saturday, June 19, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Every Saturday, the Cross Highway stand features farm-grown veggies, baked goods, honeys, Shearwater coffee, Wave Hill breads, Kneads pastries, Pam’s Jams, Guardians farm goat soap & lotion, plus logowear.

Tomorrow’s fresh produce offerings include collard greens, lettuce, kale, peas, radishes, garlic scapes, Chinese green onions, strawberries (limited quantities!), and herbs.

This year, WTF expands its offerings with a rotating list of local guest vendors. This week they welcome Lorenza Arnal, creator of Alma de Mexico’s homemade salsas, and Sk*p, a sustainably packaged hair & body care line with local roots.

PS: Visitors can also say hi to the WTF animals.

Teagan Smith, at the WTF farm stand.

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Tomorrow is also the day for Westport Paddle Club’s great Saugatuck River cleanup. Everyone is welcome to jump in a kayak, then pick up debris.

It starts around 5 p.m. — an hour or so before high tide — so you can paddle up with the tide, then drift back with it too.

Everyone will be back before 8. It will still be light — and time to party. Jr’s Deli & Grille provides the grub. (Click here for details.)

To get in the mood, check out last night’s report on News12. Even if you can’t make it tomorrow, you’ll learn a lot about the river. And the drone views are outstanding!

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Looking for action, entertainment and laughs?

The Remarkable Theater’s upcoming shows include:

  • “Black Panther” (Monday, June 21)
  • “The Birdcage” (Wednesday, June 23)
  • “The Breakfast Club” (Monday, June 28)

All shows begin at 8:45 p.m. Gates open at the Imperial Avenue parking lot at 7:45, for tailgating. Click here for tickets.

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Westport’s own Dale Najarian is one of 5 features artists at George Billis Gallery‘s new pop-up exhibit, “Summer Escape.”

It opens today (Friday, June 18), with an open reception from 4 to 7 p.m. The exhibit runs through July 25.

“Summer Escape” includes oceans, beaches, pool scenes, waterscapes, and paintings inspired by travel in the US and Europe.

George Billis Gallery is at 166 Main Street. It’s open every day except Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

“Compo Beach,” oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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Staples High School’s Class of 1976 is planning their 45th reunion. And — in the spirit of ’76 — they’re doing more than their share.

The July 30-31 weekend includes parties at the Black Duck and Compo Beach. They’ve added a “Great Gatsby” town tour.

And — because several classmates volunteer with CLASP Homes, the supportive housing organization for people with developmental disabilities (and Tracy Flood works there), the reunion-goers will do yard projects at the site. (They might not even know that CLASP was founded in 1976!)

Class of ’76 members seeking more information can email staples76reunion@gmail.com.

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“Westport … Naturally” finds us today at Burying Hill Beach:

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally … in honor of Staples High School’s 450-plus graduates yesterday, here is Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.”

The whole thing. But if you want just the traditional processional march, it starts at 1:57.

 

Roundup: Remarkable Films, Stop The Bleed, Marine Police …

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Doug Tirola — one of the founders of the Remarkable Theater — is a native Westporter, and father of a Staples High School student. He know we’ve got some remarkable members of the senior class — and that they had a remarkable year.

Tomorrow Doug — whose day job is filmmaking — wants to hear about their experiences. He’s making a short feature starring Staples seniors. It will play before (naturally) the drive-in screening of “The Breakfast Club” later this month.

High school seniors are invited to a quick interview tomorrow (Wednesday, June 16, 3 p.m.) at Staples’ front entrance.

NOTE: Seniors who are not yet 18 should email kate@4throwfilms.com for a release form, to be signed by a parent prior to film.

“The Breakfast Club”: Quite possibly the best high school movie ever made.

 

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The vibe at Westport Paddle Club is chill.

But the young staff — overseeing kayaks, paddleboards and the increasingly crowded Saugatuck River — has major responsibilities.

Yesterday, owners Taryn and Robbie Guimond brought Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services staff onto the Riverside Avenue site. EMTs ran everyone through every imaginable safety scenario and protocol.

The entire Westport Paddle Club staff is now certified in CPR, first aid and “stop the blood.” They’re ready for anything — and for you.

Safety first at Westport Paddle Club.

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Speaking of safety … Sandra Lefkowitz writes:

“With so much negativity about police in our country, we feel lucky we have a Police Department that responds quickly and professionally  to our needs, on many levels.

“On Sunday around 2:30 p.m., my husband Larry and I, 2 Westport friends and our puppy were stranded on our small boat in the Sound. It just stopped, and refused to start again no matter what we were tried.

“To our much appreciated rescue came 2 police officers: a man and a woman. With efficiency, respect and utmost professionalism, we were towed to our marina on Saugatuck shores.

“We are privileged to live in a town with such an incredible Police Department. Thank you!”

The Lefkowitzes’ boat, after being towed to safety.

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For weeks, Pequot Trail neighbors have been upset about the clear-cutting done in preparation for a teardown and new home.

Yesterday, News12 reported on the issue.

As noted in the report, owners can do whatever they want with their property. But, Tree Board chair Monica Buesser notes, trees play many roles beyond beauty — including noise abatement and reduced flood risk.

Click here for the News12 story.

Aerial view of clear cutting on Pequot Trail. (Screenshot courtesy of News 12

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Marketplace at Franny’s of Westport celebrates its first year as a local pop-up partner this Saturday (June 19, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.).

The Bedford Square shop will be filled with live music, free samples and giveaways. Tracey Medeiros will sign copies of “The Art of Cooking with Cannabis,” and Franny Tacy — founder of Franny’s Farmacy — will be on hand too, to say, um, “hi.”

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The world is opening up. But plenty of neighbors are still in dire straits.

To help fill Person 2 Person’s Norwalk food pantry, Westport Sunrise Rotary members will collect food donations in the rear of Saugatuck Congregational Church (Saturday, June 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

They urge folks to include these items on upcoming shopping trips: hearty soups, snack and granola bars, pasta and sauce, 1-pound rice boxes, peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, canned tuna and chicken, canned fruits and vegetables, dried and canned beans, pancake mix, cold cereal, oatmeal and shelf-stable milk.

Among the most needed household and personal items: laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner, dryer sheets, toothbrushes and toothpaste, disinfectant wipes, hand and body soap, kitchen sponges, deodorant, liquid dish detergent, diapers and wipes (especially sizes 5 and 6), tissues and Kleenex.

From left: Greg Dobbs (Person2Person food pantry site manger) with Westport Sunrise Rotarians Rob Hauck and president George Masumian.

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What would “Westport … Naturally” be without a very cool deer photo?

Well, a lot leafier, for one thing …

(Photo/Katherine Bruan)

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And finally … today is the birthday of Waylon Jennings. Born in 1937, he died in 2002. Along the way, he gave us classics like:

“06880” Podcast: Trey Ellis

Trey Ellis is one of the most interesting — and accomplished — people in Westport.

He is a leading chronicle of the Black experience. An award-winning novelist, Emmy and Peabody-honored filmmaker, playwright and professor of screenwriting in the Graduate School at Columbia University, he recently served as executive producer and interviewer for the HBO documentaries “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight For Equality,” and “King in the Wilderness.”

The other day, I spoke with Trey. We talked about writing, creativity, Black lives here and elsewhere, raising children in Westport, and much more.

It was a fascinating, wide-ranging conversation. Click here for the newest “06880: The Podcast” episode.

Screenshot from the Trey Ellis podcast.

The Way It Is: Bruce Hornsby Rocks The Levitt

It was just like old times.

A tour bus was parked in the lot. Westporters opened picnic baskets, popped wine bottles, settled in for a show. The Levitt Pavilion was back.

Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers headlined last night’s benefit. Following in a long tradition — Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, John Fogerty and many more — the benefit show sizzled.

Most Levitt events are free. They’re paid for by events like this. After a summer of silence — the Levitt, like nearly every other entertainment venue in the world, went dark during the pandemic — last night’s show was more than just a benefit for the pavilion.

It was a resounding way to say: “Welcome, Westport, to another summer of joy!”

If you weren’t in the capacity crowd: Here’s what you missed, courtesy of “06880” photographer JC Martin.

First Selectman Jim Marpe and Levitt Pavilion marketing director Carleigh Welsh welcome the crowd.

Bruce Hornsby

Not everyone who enjoyed the concert bought a ticket. (Photos/JC Martin)

 

Pic Of The Day #1518

Levitt Pavilion, from Grace Salmon Park (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Roundup: June Snow, Safety Fence, Downtown Lights …

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That old saying about New England weather — if you don’t like it, wait a minute — is spot on. Still, it doesn’t usually snow in June.

If you’re Netflix, you make it happen. For a couple of weeks, a crew has filmed “The Noel Diary” in a residential neighborhood. It’s a Christmas (as in 2022) movie, so a bit of ingenuity is needed.

Here was one scene, yesterday. I’m sure it will look more realistic 18 months from now.

On screen, and in real life.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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Meanwhile, summer is actually almost here. That means more folks walking, jogging, biking and driving past the former Positano restaurant on Hillspoint Road.

For over a year, permit violations have halted construction on what was to be a private residence. The building — half-finished, swathed in blue, surrounded by weeds — has become a neighborhood eyesore.

A security fence now encloses the property. That makes it safer.

But now it looks worse than ever.

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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The Westport Downtown Association’s GoFundMe campaign was a success.

The organization has installed more lights along Church Lane — including the Patagonia and Urban Outfitters buildings.

Next on the lights list: Main Street.

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Jim Hood lives on Compo Beach. Is that where his dog learned to swim? Or does it just paddle instinctively? Who cares? Here’s today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/Jim Hood)

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And finally … today is Flag Day. Long may she wave, proudly and brave!