Tag Archives: Levitt Pavilion

Levitt Cancels 2020 Season

Things may inch back to “normal” this summer.

But it won’t be normal on the banks of the Saugatuck River. 

The Levitt Pavilion has canceled the entire 2020 season. The reason, of course, is the coronavirus. 

One view of the Levitt Pavilion … (Photo/Claire Bangser)

The Levitt board says:

This decision is first and foremost based on our commitment to your safety, and the safety of our artists and audiences, staff and stakeholders, and the community at large.

2020 would have marked our 47th summer season under the stars. This will be the first time in our history that we will not produce a season. Sharing this news is difficult — but we know it is the only responsible thing to do.

As a not-for-profit organization, the Levitt Pavilion produces one of the largest and longest-running free outdoor festivals in the nation. We are committed to being able to ensure our future ability to deliver on our mission: To provide abundant free access to the arts, to compensate and support artists at every stage of their careers, and to preserve and cultivate an outdoor destination where people of all ages can come together safely to enjoy the arts, nature – and each other.

… and another … (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

The Levitt Pavilion is also an anchor organization for a vibrant downtown Westport. We will continue to work to be in a position to light up Westport once more, when it is safe to do so, in our unique way, and to continue to attract thousands upon thousands of people to come back to Westport and support our local businesses, restaurants and our esteemed cultural institutions.

We are working to ensure we can still be here to deliver on our mission in the future, to help serve and rebuild our community, and to help mitigate the effects this cancellation, alongside countless others, has on the artists and team that make our season and special events possible.

To support these outcomes and maintain our very lean operations, we will continue to fundraise. So that we can remain functional, we ask that if you’re able, to please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

… and the view from the stage. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Pic Of The Day #1078

Behind the Levitt Pavilion (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

To order any of John Videler’s Westport prints, click here.

Pic Of The Day #1043

Levitt Pavilion: closed for winter (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

Pic Of The Day #983

Heartfelt feelings near the bridge from the Levitt Pavilion to the Imperial Avenue parking lot (Photo/Johanna Rossi)

Photo Challenge #254

Last week’s Photo Challenge showed a spot not far from downtown that most Westporters have never gone.

Though it’s a place everyone should see.

Sandy Rothernberg’s image was of the point at the Riverwalk path behind the Levitt Pavilion where Deadman Brook flows into the Saugatuck River.

It’s beautiful, serene — and open to the public. You’ll get a different perspective there of the water, and our town’s relation to it.

Since the Levitt renovation, the path now winds all the way around — from the library to the Imperial parking lot side. Midway there, you’ll see the scene Sandy captured. Or click here for the closeup.

This one was tough. It took nearly 24 hours before the first readers guessed correctly. Congratulations, Madison Malin and Steve Dopp!

This week’s Photo Challenge, meanwhile, may be our first-ever nighttime shot. If you know where in Westport you’d find this — night, day, whenever — click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Johanna Rossi)

Photo Challenge #248

Fall is here. The Levitt Pavilion is dark.

But for dozens of nights this summer — like every other one — the Levitt lit up Westport with free concerts.

The lights above the stage were last week’s Photo Challenge (click here to see). A couple of readers guessed the Staples High School auditorium or Westport Library — but nearly everyone else nailed it. The Levitt Pavilion has tons of fans.

Congratulations to Matt Murray, Fred Rubin, Andrew O’Brien, Jack Backiel, Les Dinkin, Jay Tormey,. Seth Braunstein, Martin Gitlin, Rich Stein, Bobbie Herman, James Weisz, Seth Goltzer, Darcy Sledge, Jonathan McClure and Joelle Malec– you lit up the answers!

Amy Schneider snapped this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d find this, click “Comments” below.

And if you know who this guy is, we’d love to find out!

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

Pic Of The Day #852

Levitt Pavilion and full moon, from the Saugatuck River (Photo/Nicole vonDohlen)

Pic Of The Day #828

Yesterday’s rainbow, as seen from Bartaco … (Photo/Erik Ostbye)

… and the Levitt Pavilion, for the great concert by Our Native Daughters … (Photo/Claire Bangser)

… and over Cockenoe Island (Photo/Sharon Lipper)

Minstrel History Comes To Levitt

As chair of TEAM Westport — our multicultural commission — Harold Bailey thinks a lot about how our town addresses race.

The topic is everywhere nationally, from politics and policing to religion and sports. Some discussions are superficial; others, quite nuanced.

Westport is not the most racially diverse place on the planet. But we are tied inextricably to the national conversation.

The recent “Remembered…” exhibition at the Westport Historical Society revealed — with stark photos, words and artificats — that kidnapped, enslaved Africans were critical to the founding and growth of this place.

Bailey says that Our Native Daughters do something similar on a national scale, for American music. Conceived by 4 gifted women, and spurred by a MacArthur “genius grant,” the group reclaims minstrel music of the 1800s from the tropes generated by whites wearing blackface. The quartet redefines that music, through its African-American roots.

In the process, Bailey says, “they vividly portray the ways in which the enduring storytelling and bonds from black women have been the bedrock of the African-American family, from antebellum America to the present.”

Our Native Daughters

That’s powerful stuff. This Tuesday (July 23, 7:30 p.m.), Westport gets a chance to see and hear it in an intimate setting.

Our Native Daughters perform a special, ticketed concert at the Levitt Pavilion. TEAM Westport and the WHS co-sponsor the event.

We’re in great company. The next day, the group performs at The Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC. On Sunday they’ll be at the Newport Folk Festival.

The Levitt date actually launches Our Native Daughters’ tour. A crew from the Smithsonian Channel will be on hand to film this show.

NPR says Leyla McCalla’s delivery is “characterized by willowy sereneness and subtly jazzy phrasing,” Allison Russell’s by “feathery, softhearted trills and curlicues,” Amythyst Kiah’s by “flintily soulful resonance,” and Rhiannon Giddens’ by “lithe expressiveness and regal bearing.”

Banjos are key. But all 4 women play several instruments.

The Levitt is well known for the variety and quality of its programming. Rock, blues, military bands, kids’ music, comedians — in over 40 years, audiences have seen it all.

Seldom however has there been a concert with historical significance, one that can promote reflection and dialogue at such a fraught time in our nation’s history.

The Levitt is a relaxing, wonderful place of summer entertainment. On Tuesday, Our Native Daughters’ artful, eye- and ear-opening music takes us to a new place.

(Click here for tickets and more information.)

Charlie Karp Tribute: A Levitt Concert For The Ages

The Levitt Pavilion has been the site of countless great concerts.

But in its over-40-year history, it’s never hosted — on one night — artists who have played with the Beatles, Doors, Michael Jackson, Sting, Elton John, Van Morrison, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Linda Ronstadt, The Band, Pete Seeger, Smokey Robinson, Rascals, Aerosmith, Buddy Miles, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Elvis Costello, James Brown, Jon Bon Jovi, Cheech & Chong, Michael Bolton, Barry Manilow, Herbie Hancock, Liza Minelli, Cher, Marvin Gaye, Chaka Khan, Mamas and the Papas, Paul Simon, Foreigner, Grand Funk Railroad, Eartha Kitt, Dave Brubeck, Whitney Houston, Roberta Flack, Lenny Kravitz, Chuck Mangione, Harry Chapin, Arlo Guthrie, Bee Gees, Edgar Winter, Grace Slick, Jefferson Starship, John Sebastian, Joe Cocker, Ted Nugent, Mötley Crue, Boz Scaggs, Amy Grant, Sinéad O’Connor, Vince Gill, Carole King, Orleans, Johnny Winter, Emmylou Harris, Chieftains, Lou Reed, Joan Jett, Larry Coryell, Rosanne Cash, Buckwheat Zydeco, Shawn Colvin, Julio Iglesias, Michael McDonald, Luther Vandross, Usher, Jean-Luc Ponty, Jose Féliciano, Herb Alpert, Bad Company, Paul Winter, Taj Mahal, Badfinger, Rick Derringer, Blue Oyster Cult, James Cotton, Bruce Hornsby, Spyro Gyra, Muddy Waters, Eric Weissberg, Wynton Marsalis, New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, Vicki Sue Robinson, Aztec Two-Step and James Montgomery.

Just to name a few.

The key is: Nearly all of the musicians who played with those greats also played with Charlie Karp.

And on Saturday, July 6 (7 p.m., Levitt Pavilion) they’ll honor Charlie’s memory, rocking a sure-to-be memorable concert for the ages.

Charlie Karp, in his Buddy Miles days.

Charlie left Staples High School at 16 to play guitar with Buddy Miles. He hung and played with Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards, and wrote songs for Joan Jett and Joe Perry, before returning home to earn a fanatic following with bands like Dirty Angels, White Chocolate, Slo Leak and the Name Droppers.

He simultaneously earned Emmys as a producer of music for sports networks, documentaries and feature films, and became a guitar teaching mentor to generations of aspiring young stars.

Charlie died in March, at 65. He had been diagnosed a few days earlier with liver cancer.

Nearly everyone who ever played with Charlie — and a few other big names who were influenced by him — will appear together on the Levitt stage. Over 70 strong, they’ll reimagine the rock and R&B Charlie recorded, played and loved so much.

The mammoth, not-to-be-missed show includes Barry Tashian. Seven years older than Charlie, he fronted the Remains. They opened for the Beatles on their final 1966 tour, and were — in the words of legendary critic Jon Landau — “how you told a stranger about rock ‘n’ roll.”

The Remains were a major influence on Charlie. He and good friend Brian Keane — now a Grammy-winning composer and producer — played their songs in a Coleytown Junior High band. Later, Charlie and Barry became friends.

The Remains’ Barry Tashian (left) and Vern Miller, while touring with the Beatles.

Barry has not played in Westport for several decades. He’s flying up from Nashville for this show.

The cast also includes Roger Ball of the Average White Band, Joe Bonadio of Sting, Michael Mugrage of Orleans, Motown recording artist Ada Dyer, Tim DeHuff and Roger Kaufman.

Of course, members of Charlie’s beloved bands from the ’60s through 2019 — guys like David Hull and Rick Castillo — will play too. The Fun Band, Slo Leak, White Chocolate, Dirty Angels and Name Droppers — it’s a trip down memory lane. And a reminder that great music never dies.

Charlie Karp (Photo/John Halpern)

Mandrake Root — a seminal Westport band — will reunite after 50 years. Tony Prior is coming from North Carolina to join in the jam.

The Reunion Band will be there too. Comprised entirely of Charlie’s classmates from Staples’ class of 1971 — all of them noted professional musicians — they were there with Charlie 2 years ago, for one of the Levitt’s best nights ever.

Charlie’s high school sweetheart, Debbie Sims, will introduce “I Still Love You Anyway.” Charlie wrote that song for her, on Buddy Miles’ iconic “Them Changes” album. It — and “Runaway Child,” which Charlie wrote with Buddy — will be performed by the popular local band, the 5 O’Clocks.

Joey Melotti will be there. The musical director for Michael Jackson and Michael Bolton had a huge Westport following with his 1980s band Sunsight.

Chris Coogan’s Good News Gospel Choir will round out the amazing evening.

Guitarist/producer/songwriter Danny Kortchmar can’t be there — he’s on tour with James Taylor and Carole King’s rhythm section. He sent a note to be read from the stage.

So did Keith Richards. He too is sorry he can’t attend. His band, the Rolling Stones, is out on tour.

Charlie Karp and Keith Richards. (Photo/Ray Flanigan)

Every musician is donating their time. Some turned down lucrative gigs to come.

Proceeds will benefit two organizations. The Charlie Karp Memorial Fund promotes promising area musicians, by offering studio time at the Carriage House in Stamford and Horizon in West Haven. The other beneficiary is the Levitt Pavilion.

That’s fitting. Charlie Karp played to adoring Levitt audiences many times.

On July 6, he’ll pack the place one more time.

(The Charlie Karp Tribute Concert is a ticketed event. Click here to purchase, and for more information.)