Tag Archives: Nile Rodgers

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:

———————————–

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.