Once a year, white, suburban Westport turns into the blues capital of the world.
Also, the barbecue center of the universe.
It’s great publicity — and branding — for Westport. But it’s not a Westport crowd.
They come from across Connecticut. And Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and beyond.
They come for fantastic music. Great (and decidedly non-vegan) food.
And — for their kids — face painting, bounce houses and the chance to run around and around and around.
And come they do. Crowds formed long before the library parking lot and Levitt Pavilion opened at 11 a.m. They’ll be there today, too — smiling and enjoying the hell out of the day, just like everyone did yesterday.
Here’s what they saw and did:
I got there just as the barbecue contest was ending. This is all that was left.
But I was right on time for Anders Osborne, on the Levitt Pavilion mainstage.
This guy went from the BBQ contest to the music…
…while this guy was getting all the attention.
If you didn’t — or couldn’t — buy a pass for the sold-out Levitt acts, there was lots more music in the library parking lot tent.
There was art — like this from Dante Tilghman (left) — for the adults…
…face painting for kids like Zachary O’Dell…
…while others found a way to hear the music for free. This group probably WAS from Westport.
From Mary Ann Hall’s Music for Children, through musicals at Coleytown, Bedford and Staples (Class of 2007), to the bands he’s played in and the record label he ran at Hartwick College, Drew has immersed himself in sound.
But after college, he says, “I lost my musical focus.” He spent a year managing a YouTube viral artist. Ultimately, he realized, he wanted to be on stage — not behind the scenes.
In the past 2 years he’s played over 150 gigs. Drew does it all: concerts, weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs. In November he appeared at the FTC Warehouse (with, among others, Anders Osborne).
Drew also made the Top 10 of Boston’s “Community Auditions” TV show — a 4-decade-old forerunner of “American Idol.”
Speaking of which…
Last summer, Drew was invited to an “American Idol” audition in Philadelphia. He roared through 3 rounds of auditions — then was asked to return, to perform in front of real-live judges.
It was another all-day affair. But singing in front of Harry, JLo and Keith was amazing.
Drew’s 1st song was “I’m Ready.” Harry said he’s buddies with singer/ songwriter Anders Osborne.
The judges liked Drew’s voice. JLo asked for another tune. He quickly tuned his guitar out of double drop D — without a tuner. Impressed, Harry said, “You’ve got good ears, man!”
Drew played the 1st 2 verses of “Dock of the Bay.” Keith stopped him, and asked why he chose the song. JLo glared at Keith and said, “’cause he can sing!”
Drew got 3 “yeses,” and walked out — with a golden ticket to Hollywood!
Drew Angus with his parents — and his golden ticket.
“Being validated by 3 industry veterans and the producers was incredible,” Drew says.
“Idol” did not air Drew’s audition last week, when Philly was up. But he saw himself on TV, with his golden ticket.
Talk about a great screen shot!
“Reality TV is not just what you see on TV,” he notes. “There are a lot of amazing people who never get air time. Hopefully, you’ll see me in Hollywood next week!”
Winning “Idol” would be fantastic, Drew says. For now though, he’s taking it one performance at a time.
Tune in Wednesdays and Thursdays (Fox, 8 p.m.) to follow his journey.
(Drew Angus’ version of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” comes out next week on iTunes and Spotify. He’s donating proceeds from the sale and streaming of the track to the charity Little Kids Rock, which provides instruments and music education to underserved children across the country. Drew performs on February 2 at the Bitter End, and March 2 at Rockwood Music Hall.)
Westport is many things to many people. We’re hedge fund headquarters, an arts colony, and a great place to raise kids.
For 2 days every year, Westport is also the blues and BBQ capital of the Northeast.
A multi-hued, very diverse crowd of music and food lovers descended on the Westport Library and Imperial Avenue parking lots, plus the Levitt Pavilion, today and tonight.
The 8th annual Blues, Views & BBQ Festival kicked off in its highest gear ever. From kick-ass music to definitely non-vegan food — and with games, booths, fun and more for all ages — it was the liveliest opening day ever.
Tomorrow’s (Sunday) show runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. If you’ve never been, you have to check it out (info here).
If you’ve been before, you know you’re going back.
Anders Osborne — the Swedish bluesman from New Orleans — rocked a full Levitt Pavilion house tonight.
Amits Bread was a perfect complement to Big Animal Barbecue. Check out their smoker, next to Amit.
What’s a barbecue festival without ribs…
…and fried food.
These kids loved Tom’s roid-rippin’ hot sauce.
Dane Tilghman came from Pennsylvania to show his blues-infused artwork.
Tats: They’re not just for teenagers.
The Levitt Pavilion concerts were sold out. But a brass band played for everyone else in the Westport Library parking lot.
An enthusiastic crowd enjoyed the Levitt Pavilion shows.
Even at the crowded Levitt, there was a chance to chill, and enjoy the day.
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