Tag Archives: Nile Rodgers

Roundup: Nile Rodgers, David Hidalgo, Bob Dole …

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Like many musicians, Nile Rodgers has an impressive collection of guitars.

Like very few, he is selling them at auction.

Like even fewer, he’s auctioning them not for personal gain, but for charity.

This month, Christie’s is offering more than 160 pieces from his personal collection. Besides guitars, there are amps, synthesizers and mixing boards — plus clothing and classic cars.

Many are housed right here in Westport. The Grammy-winning composer, producer, arranger, guitarist and Chic co-founder has lived here for years.

Rodgers will donate app proceeds to the We Are Family Foundation. He and life partner Nancy Hunt set up the organization after 9/11. It “promotes cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world.”

And it’s named, of course, for the smash song he wrote for Sister Sledge.

Click here for the full story. Click here for the Nile Rodgers collection, from the Christie’s catalogue. (Hat tip: Adam Stolpen)

Nile Rodgers, at his Westport home. (Photo courtesy of Sky Arts)

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College a cappella came to Westport last night.

Dartmouth College’s Brovertones brought their bowties and harmonies to the Christ & Holy Trinity courtyard last night. There was a bonfire, s’mores, hot cider — and a heartfelt speech by Brovertone Sam Laskin. The Staples High School grad spoke about how great it was to grow up in a town that fosters the arts.

Dinner was next for the group, hosted by Randy Herbertson in his Church Lane studio. Most of the food was donated by Rye Ridge Deli.

Today — after they all slept at the Laskins’ — it was off on the next stop of their holiday tour.

The Brovertones, at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. (Photo/David Goldstein)

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Like many downtown stores, Savvy + Grace has a gorgeous Christmas tree.

But this one is more than decorative.

Owner Annette Norton is working with the Ralphola Taylor Charity, a YMCA community center that serves low-income Bridgeport children. They earn points for good behavior during after-school activities — then redeem those points at the center’s Holiday Store by buying presents for their families.

In return for purchasing a gift for the Ralphola Taylor Charity, Annette will personalize a white dove ornament with the donor’s name, and hang it on the tree.

Gifts can be bought 3 ways:

  • At Savvy + Grace (next to the former Tavern on Main restaurant)
  • Online (at checkout, just choose free delivery to the charity)
  • Purchase something from any other local store, then drop it off at Savvy + Grace. What a great way to support all Westport merchants, and kids in Bridgeport.

Donations are accepted now through December 12. Let’s fill that tree — and the Ralphola Taylor Charity Holiday Shop shelves!

Annette Norton at Savvy + Grace last year. This season, the tree is inside her store.

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In 2020, I reported on David Hidalgo’s battle against leukemia.

The carpenter/handyman/home improvement contractor extraordinaire is beloved by Westporters. They adore his workmanship, care, willingness to tackle any project; his problem-solving, humility, politeness, and ear-to-ear smile.

He had no disability insurance. But many friends — and strangers — stepped up to help. On his 32nd birthday, David was pronounced cancer-free.

Devastatingly, it’s now returned.

He starts treatment tomorrow, and hopes for a bone marrow transplant.

Without health insurance, he, his wife and 2 young children need lots of help.

He has 2 young children and a lovely wife. They have no health insurance and will need a lot of help.

A GoFundMe drive can defray medical costs. A meal train can help too.

David’s many friends and very pleased clients hope that Westport can give generously to this special man, and his family. (Hat tip: Jennifer Zorek-Pressman)

David Hidalgo and family.

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Bob Dole — the World War II hero, Senate majority leader, presidential and vice presidential candidate, veterans’ advocate, and skillful politician in all the positive senses of the word — died yesterday, at 98.

His long and varied life no doubt brought him at least a few times to Westport, for fundraising and other events. I met him once, at the Apple Festival at Staples High School.

That’s been gone for a while, but it was an old-fashioned, community celebration every October. It must have been a presidential election year, though I can’t remember which one.

I was surprised that a man of his stature would be shaking hands at a small event like that. But I was impressed that he met voters with grace, a smile, and a couple of jokes.

I shook his hand — his left one, because his right hand was severely injured during his service with the 10th Mountain Division. I was not going to vote for whoever he was stumping for, but neither would I pass up the honor of meeting him.

It remains a fond memory. If only we had iPhones back then.

Senator Bob Dole

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Former Westporter — and longtime Planning & Zoning Commission member –Ed Van Gelder died last week, at Meadow Ridge in Redding. He was 98 years old.

In 2009, he and his wife Inge celebrated their 60th anniversary. Their son Jeff wrote a beautiful piece for “06880,” about what Westport meant to them both. Click here to read.

An obituary has not yet been published. Condolences may be sent to Jeff Van Gelder, c/o1326 Meadow Ridge, Redding, CT 06896. (Hat tip: Rose Jordan)

Inge and Ed Van Gelder

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“06880” readers are not the only people who love Werner Liepolt’s artwork.

The regular contributor to our Saturday online art gallery has just had his en plein air painting of Sherwood Island State Park juried into the Mart Twain Library‘s 49th annual art show. Submissions came from across the country.

The fundraiser for the Redding institution — which was founded by the legendary writer — runs through December 12.

The Mark Twain Library is a fitting spot for Liepolt’s work. He spent over 30 years in Westport as an English teacher.

Werner Liepolt’s Sherwood Island artwork was featured in the “06880” art gallery last March. It’s now in the juried Mark Twain Library show.

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Speaking of Sherwood Island: Mill Pond residents were surprised to wake up this morning to lights and action.

It was presumably Netflix, filming “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone.” The Stephen King thriller stars Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell, and will be released next year.

A temporary “trailer park” has been erected at the state park. To answer questions from readers: No, it’s not permanent.

Sherwood Island State Park, as seen from the Mill Pond early this morning. (Photo/James White)

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The deer keeping coming. Jill Grayson took today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo at her Berkeley Road home, off Easton Road.

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

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And finally … in honor of Nile Rodgers’ charitable gifts (above) — well, you knew this was coming:

Roundup: Flowers, Food, Farm, More


It doesn’t get more neighborly than this.

In the middle of Greens Farms, on Prospect Road, Melissa and John Ceriale spent 20 years creating an 8-acre oasis. Gardens, trees, bushes and walking paths fill their property.

“Prospect Gardens” is one of the most beautiful spots in town. Most of us admire it — but only from the road.

Yesterday the couple invited all their neighbors over. Most came — including First Selectman Jim Marpe and his wife Mary Ellen.

Treats included apples from the orchard, cider and donuts. Every kid took a pumpkin home.

There was an observation bee hive, and honey tasting.

David Brant of the Aspetuck Land Trust spoke with Greens Farms residents about their Green Corridor project.

Debra Kandrak pitched her daffodil planting plan.

It was a socially distanced, supremely relaxing afternoon. Many neighbors said they’d driven, walked or run by the property for years. Now they know what’s happening behind the fence.

This spring, the Ceriales will add more beauty to their land. Owners of an adjacent house are moving. The Ceriales bought the property, and will take it down.

The former owners’ daughter and her husband were there today. They planted a patch of daffodils, to bloom long after their home is gone.

Neighborhood kids enjoy apples by the Prospect Road gardens.


The “best Mediterranean cuisine” is coming to Westport.

At least, that’s what the sign says at the former Matsu Sushi, across from Jesup Green.

I’m not sure if the name of the new place is “Restaurant Apply Now,” or that’s just the email address. Details to follow.

(Photo/Sal Liccione)


The other day, a house was demolished on Compo Parkway:

However, it’s not just any house. A neighbor thinks it was the original barn for the onion fields on the street, back in the farming days.

At any rate, it’s now just one more Westport memory:

(Photos/Tracy Porosoff)


When Q104.3’s iHeartDaily blog interviewed Nile Rogers, the headline was: “Why He’s Writing More Than Ever.”

It’s an interesting look at the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. And it includes his description of writing collaboratively with a partner in Los Angeles, while Nile is “basically living inside a box” in Westport.

Click here for those insights — and much more. (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)

Nile Rodgers


More music news:

Daniel Tashian — the Nashville-based, Grammy-winning producer/songwriter/ musician, and son of Staples High School graduates Barry (who played with The Remains, Flying Burrito Brothers and Emmy Lou Harris) and Holly Tashian (a country star with Barry as a duo) — has a new, intriguing collaboration.

Daniel is working with Burt Bacharach. Yes, he’s still writing and performing, at 92 years old. They recently released a number of songs under the name “Blue Umbrella.” Click the YouTube video below, and enjoy. (Hat tip: Jim Honeycutt)

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And finally … Cardi B turns 28 today. I like it!

Nile Rodgers Hangs In London

If you’re not a regular viewer of Sky Arts’ “Artist of the Year” competition — and you’re probably not, because it’s a UK network only — you will not have heard of “Artist of the Year.”

Since 2013, it’s been an opportunity for professional and amateur artists around Britain to find the best portrait or landscape artist.

After several rounds of regional competitions, the finals are filmed at the National Portrait Gallery. Judges are prestigious artists.

The winner receives a £10,000 commission to paint a famous personality.

And the 2020 winner is: Christabel Blackburn!

Christabel Blackburn, in an earlier round of the competition. (Photo courtesy of Sky/Storyvault/PA)

Yeah, yeah, I don’t know her either.

But — and here’s the “06880/Where Westport meets the World” hook — the London artist was commissioned to do a painting of Nile Rodgers.

Which is why she was flown here, and painted the guitarist/singer-songwriter/ record producer/arranger/composer/former Chic frontman at his Saugatuck Shores home.

The commissioned portrait of Nile Rodgers, by Christabel Blackburn. (Photo courtesy of Sky/Storyvault/PA)

“Taking part in Portrait Artist Of The Year has been one of the most fun and crazy experiences of my life,” Blackburn told the Aberdeen Evening Express.

“I met some amazing people, and above all it has done wonders for my confidence. I never thought I would be able to paint under that kind of pressure, and to win it, well that’s just pretty mind-boggling.

“I’m so excited to see where it now takes me.”

Well: It took her to Westport. And now — thanks to Christabel Blackburn — our neighbor hangs in the Royal Albert Hall.

(Sure, this is a pretty random story. I learned about it from Vince Kelly. Most Westporters know him through his long involvement in local baseball. But his parents were from Liverpool, and family members still live there. His aunt sent him the news about Nile, which he forwarded to me. To read the full Evening Express story, click here.)

Christabel Blackburn and Nile Rodgers, at the musician’s. Westport home. The photo is from Sky Arts’ “Artist of the Year” broadcast.

3 Million Records — In Westport?

A few days ago, the New York Times ran a story about the Archive of Contemporary Music. The non-profit houses one of the world’s largest collections of popular music: over 3 million recordings, plus music books, memorabilia and press kids.

There are “shelves upon shelves upon shelves of vinyl records and CDs, signed Johnny Cash records… boxes of big band recordings, world music and jazz and original soundtracks.”

Keith Richards

It also holds the bulk of Keith Richards’ famed blues collection. (He’s on the board of advisers.)

But rising TriBeCa rents are forcing the mammoth collection elsewhere. They’ve got until June to find a new space.

Nile Rodgers —  the record producer and co-founder of the band Chic — is also on the Archive’s board.

Which raises an intriguing idea, first proposed by alert “06880” reader Jeff Mitchell. With those 2 luminaries so involved — and living in Westport and Weston, along with other great recording artists like Michael Bolton and Jose Feliciano, not to mention our long musical history of legendary concerts from Bo Diddley to the Doors; REO Speedwagon writing 157 Riverside about their time here; Johnny Winter and Joe Cocker recording and rehearsing in Westport — why not invite the Archive of Contemporary Music to set up shop here?

I’m (semi) serious. We already have a Museum of Contemporary Art (formerly the Westport Arts Center). a Westport Museum for History and Culture (most recently the Westport Historical Society), plus the Westport Country Playhouse (unchanged after 90 years). This would be one more cultural attraction.

Where would they go? That’s for wiser heads than mine to decide. But we do have an unused building sitting smack in the middle of Baron’s South.

And we keep talking about all those vacant stores on Main Street…

New home of the Archive of Contemporary Music? (Photos/Chip Stephens)

Nile Rodgers’ Journey: From Disco To Abbey Road

Nile Rodgers seems to have done it all.

The 65-year-old Westporter/musician/ producer/ composer/arranger  has performed or produced for everyone from Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”) to Duran Duran, David Bowie, Madonna and Britney Spears.

He’s earned Grammys for Record of the Year and Album of the Year (for Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”).

Those of us a bit older remember his guitar work with Chic (“Le Freak”).  Nearly 40 years later, he played at President Obama’s final White House party. It lasted until 6 a.m.

Nile Rodgers has even been honored as the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” star.

But now he’s got a new gig: chief creative advisor at Abbey Road.

The legendary artist joins the most legendary studio on the planet. He’ll record rock and pop stars, while also mentoring up-and-coming performers.

Rodgers — who told the BBC he dreamed of working at Abbey Road ever since he heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand” — says that every day at work, he sees people recreating the road-crossing made famous on the Beatles’ eponymous album.

But, he adds, the studio remains cutting-edge. “I’m an audio fanatic. I want my new stuff to sound amazing.”

He’s already worked with Bruno Mars there.

It really must be “Something” to watch the 2 stars “Come Together.”

(For more details on Nile Rodgers’ new project, click here. Hat tip: Alan Hodge.)

Nile Rodgers outside Abbey Road Studios. (Photo/Jill Furmanovsky for BBC)

Drew Angus Does SNL

If you saw “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend, you (hopefully) roared at Melissa McCarthy’s spot-on skewering of Sean Spicer. (“I know they’re not ‘holocaust centers.’ I clearly meant to say ‘concentration clubs.'”)

Drew Angus had a front-row seat to the show.

In fact, even better: The 2007 Staples High School graduate — a talented musician and “American Idol” golden ticket winner — was on stage.

Let him tell the story:

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I got a call from my voice coach at 2:09 last Thursday afternoon. He asked, “are you in town right now? SNL gig. They need 2 white guys who can sing. Giving your phone number to them right now.”

Two minutes later the drummer from the band Shawn called, and asked how quickly I could get to 30 Rock.

I got there fast. How often does an opportunity like this come around?!

At guest check in they said, “Oh, Mr. Angus, right this way!” I went up the elevator, down the hall and through the doors to the Studio 8H set. I was living a childhood dream.

Immediately I saw the iconic Grand Central Station facade/bandstand behind all the hanging lights, moving scenery pieces, cameras, cables and crew.

They put me right on the scene.  My friend Ian, who also got called, taught me the song we were to sing. (We were hired to reinforce the melody with the cast.)

A kid named Harry introduced himself. I looked at the script, and realized he was Harry Styles.

Jimmy Fallon sat in front of me. Bobby Moynihan stood next to me. It seemed unreal. I’d gone from Head Mouse in “The Wiz” to Union soldier on SNL.

We rehearsed the sketch 5 or 6 times, then got sent to wardrobe. We were measured up, and on our way in an hour and a half.

Later that night, I was playing the Bon Jovi after-party with my band that’s on tour supporting my new record “Hold onto Something” (available on Spotify and iTunes!).

Shawn called again, asking if I could come in at 8:30 the next night to do another thing for the opening monologue. I canceled my Friday gig

Of course, there’s another Westport connection.

I showed up Friday night to sing background vocals in the booth on Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” during the opening monologue. My friend Ian got the same call, along with a guy named Frank Simms.

Frank has done SNL hundreds of times. He knows the ropes, and everyone knows him. He was our shepherd for the night.

Nile Rodgers

Frank and his brother sang the backing vocals on the original “Let’s Dance” record, produced by Nile Rogers — who has lived in Westport for years.

Frank said he, his wife and daughter lived for many years as caretakers of the Westport Woman’s Club house on Imperial Avenue.

Saturday was long. Call time was 11:30 a.m. Rumors of Nile Rogers playing on the opening monologue came true when he showed up in the afternoon.

We went through rehearsals, they cut sketches, we got wardrobe. Jimmy told me to break a leg as we passed in the hallway.

The food was amazing. The crew was awesome.

At 8 p.m. we did dress rehearsal with a test audience. The producers then met for final changes.

We went live at 11:30 across the country — for the very first time in SNL history — with Jimmy Fallon as host.

Drew Angus (right), on “Saturday Night Live.”

The energy was truly electric. I think the cast really has as much fun as it looks like they do.

At some point between the dress and live shows, Frank took us up to Nile’s dressing room. We talked about Sally’s Place, Trader Joe’s, Achorn Pharmacy, Bobby Q’s, Bedford Square, Arnie’s Place, and how all the mom and pop shops are gone from Main Street.

Then they called Nile down to the stage and we left.

It was insane.  I still have no words.  Tina Fey smiled at me in the hall.

It will be hard to top that weekend.


Thanks, Drew, for that great inside look into SNL. But I disagree with your last sentence. 

One day soon, you’ll be a featured artist — or guest host!

Meanwhile, click below for the full video of Drew’s “SNL” appearance:

Nile Rodgers: Booked For The Hall Of Fame

Two years ago, Nile Rodgers — the longtime Westporter/musician/ producer/ composer/arranger — received a great honor: He was the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” star.

Now he’s booked on an even bigger stage. On April 7, he’ll receive the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Award for Musical Excellence.

He’ll be in good company for the Brooklyn ceremony. Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey and Yes are fellow honorees.

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers

Make no mistake. Our neighbor is an impressive addition to the roster of the Rock Hall’s Music Excellence honorees — a list that includes Leon Russell, the E Street Band and Ringo Starr.

Rodgers has performed or produced for everyone from Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”) to Duran Duran, David Bowie, Madonna and Britney Spears. In 2014 — the same year he gave a rousing performance at the library — he earned Grammys for Record of the Year and Album of the Year (for Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”).

He’s also an influential guitarist with Chic (“Le Freak”). But for the 11th time, his famed band has not made the Hall of Fame cut.

NIle Rodgers with Chic ("Le Freak") -- back in the day.

Nile Rodgers with Chic — back in the day.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Westport’s latest rock legend called the announcement — he’s in, the group’s out — “bittersweet.” Click here for the full Q-and-A, all about his Chic years and after.

Then — when you’re finished reading — let’s dance!

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

 

 

Nile Rodgers: A Man For These Times

Today’s New York Times Men’s Style feature on Nile Rodgers — nominated 9 times for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but never an inductee — starts off this way:

“My attitude is that there are plenty of buildings that want to have me. Why would I want to live in a building where they don’t?” said Mr. Rogers, drawing a metaphor from Manhattan real estate, where he learned over the years that he was sometimes too famous or too black to appeal to everyone’s tastes.

As it happened, Mr. Rodgers was milling about on a recent afternoon not in his Upper West Side co-op but in his six-bedroom compound in Westport, Conn.

The view of the Long Island Sound stretched for miles, the furniture included Louis XIV chairs and ancient Chinese beds, and the walls were covered in platinum records he earned producing hits for Madonna, David Bowie, Chic and Sister Sledge.

The story is an intriguing look into our neighbor’s recent collaboration with Kylie Minogue, Janelle Monae, Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Hugh Jackman; his gig next spring at Coachella; his past encounters with cocaine (it’s been replaced with stevia), and his Westport life since 1994 (including his battle with prostate cancer).

To read more about the full story about this fascinating — and very stylish — Westporter, click here.

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers Works The Westport Crowd

Sure, Nile Rodgers’ “Booked for the Evening” honor was last week.

But the video was just posted on the Westport Library’s website. If you weren’t there — even if you were — it’s worth watching.

The musician/producer/composer/arranger/Chic co-founder is as talented a speaker as he is a musician/producer/etc.

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers

He describes buying a house in Westport in 1979, after receiving a multi-million-dollar royalty check for “We Are Family” (to avoid New York taxes, among other things).

He hung out at clubs like Backstage and the Brook. Donna Summer and Ashford & Simpson lived here. “It was really, really fun,” Nile says. “I thought, ‘the suburbs are amazing!'”

He talks about being treated at Silver Hill, which earned applause from the large crowd. He’s been sober for nearly 20 years, which got an even bigger hand.

Nile went to Toquet Hall with Madonna (to see if kids were dancing to their music).

But one of the coolest days was a book signing at the Westport Library. They ran out of books — and scurried to Barnes & Noble to replenish the supply.

Click below for the full 13-minute speech. Nile Rodgers makes all of us in Westport feel like family.

 

Nile Cruises

Longtime Westporter Nile Rodgers was a big winner at last night’s Grammy Awards.

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers

He was a co-writer of — and also performed on — Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams’ disco/funk song “Get Lucky.” It won Record of the Year.  

Alert “06880” reader Fred Cantor — who passed along this info — is impressed that the tune peaked at #1 last year on Billboard’s Dance chart (and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart). He’s even more amazed that it happened 35 years after Rodgers co-wrote and performed on the #1 hit “Le Freak,” by his group Chic.

Fred adds:

Between the hits he wrote for Chic and Sister Sledge in the 1970s, the hit songs he then produced for David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran and Diana Ross among many others in the 1980s-1990s, and his recent success with Daft Punk and Avicii, I can’t think of any other artist who has had the kind of sustained, wide-ranging success he’s had at the highest level.

Congratulations, Nile. Westport looks forward to seeing you at the 2049 Grammys — 35 years from now!

NIle Rodgers with Chic ("Le Freak") -- back in the day.

NIle Rodgers with Chic (“Le Freak”) — back in the day.