Tag Archives: Nile Rodgers

Roundup: LobsterFest, Long Lots, Parker Harding …

Today’s Westport Rotary Club LobsterFest is on, “rain or shine.”

And it will be rain.

Despite the forecast, Rotarians and others were busy yesterday, preparing Compo Beach for the large crowd (still) expected this afternoon.

Among the volunteers: members of the Staples Service League of Boys (SLOBs), Builders Beyond Borders, M&T Bank and the National Charity League.

A few of the many volunteers setting up LobsterFest yesterday. (Photo/Dave Matlow)


The Long Lots School Building Committee holds a special meeting this Tuesday September 26, 6:30 p.m., Town Hall Room 201/201A ).

The agenda includes 15 minutes of public comment and/or questions regarding the feasibility study project, followed by a work session with the design team for project status updates, review and discussion. The public can  attend the work session, but not participate.

The Long Lots School Building Committee will continue to discuss plans at its Tuesday meeting.


Another meeting of note: The Joint Committee of the Historic District Commission and Architectural Review Board will hold a public Zoom meeting on October 3 (7 p.m.). to review and comment on the proposed redevelopment of Parker Harding Plaza.

The notice says, “Comments offered at the meeting will be considered in anticipation of further zoning review and approvals.”

Click here for the Zoom link. Click here for all relevant materials.

One element of the planned redevelopment of Parker Harding Plaza.


Club 203’s first event of the season Wednesday night kicked off the second year for Westport’s club for adults with disabilities.

Attendees gathered at Toquet Hall. They watched Sharuna Mahesh’s video, recapping highlights of last year — a great way to reconnect after the summer.

Then came rousing karaoke run by PJ Pitcher, and an art project hosted by MoCA Westport. I

Next up: a “Halloween Bingo and BBQ” at the Senior Center. Click here for more information.

Club 203 karaoke at Toquet Hall.


Nile Rodgers did not have to travel far for last night’s gig at Forest Hills Stadium.

Ed Paul reports: “He played an absolute top shelf, kick-ass show.

“He and his group Chic covered not only their songs but a lot of the others from famous artists that Nile has collaborated with.

“He was very engaging with the audience, and commented that he has beaten cancer twice and while he’s currently cancer-free, he’s still old AF!”

Nile Rodgers at Forest Hills Stadium. (Photo/Ed Paul)


Meanwhile, in the other direction, Old Dominion ripped it up at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

The multi-award-winning Nashville-based band is fronted by guitarist/vocalist Brad Tursi. Westporters know him as a 1997 graduate of Staples High School — and a former soccer star for the state finalist Wreckers.

Brad Tursi (left) with Old Dominion at Mohegan Sun. (Photo/Tom Scarice)


Here’s a truly cool event: Small Car Company’s annual Air-Cooled Charity Car Show on October 8 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Veterans Green; free, and family-friendly).

It’s a benefit to raise funds and awareness for 2 non-profits: Northeast Community Cycles (which provides bikes free of charge to underprivileged children) and the Bikeport Co-Op (a program where youth earn bikes by attending bike safety and maintenance courses, and performing volunteer hours with local organizations). 

The show features dozens of vintage Porsches, Volkswagens, Corvairs and other rare and special air-cooled cars and motorcycles from around the tri-state area.

In conjunction with the classic car show, Small Car Company  has partnered with Westport’s Total Training & Endurance for a bike tour, starting and finishing at Veterans Green. The $40 per rider cost includes a post-ride meal. Funds benefit Northeast Community Cycles and Bikeport Co-Op.

Small Car Company does other good work too — for example, hosting students who attend skilled trade auto-technology schools in a “Mentors & Motors” program during the show.

Students meet and learn from experienced mentors from many sectors of the automotive industry, including historic restoration, modern production automotive repair, sales, design, and photography.

Click here for more details.


The Gridiron Club has announced its 2023 inductees for the Staples High School Wall of Fame.

Congratulations to former players DJ Stefkovich (2006), Brian Levine (’06), Josh Kozel (’08), Matt Kelly (’09), Rob Gau (’11), James Frusciante (’13), Joey Zelkowitz (’13), Declan O’Keefe, plus Staples assistant principal James Farnen and Westport PAL football president and former PAL coach Carmen Roda.

Congratulations to all! The ceremony takes place November 3, at halftime of the Wreckers’ game against Trumbull.


Speaking of sports: The 10th annual Westport Police Benevolent Association Golf Tournament is October 23, at Tashua Knolls in Trumbull.

It’s a scramble format. Funds raised go to college scholarships for PBA members, as well as 2 to Staples High seniors who will pursue degrees in law enforcement.

The day includes raffles, and prizes for longest drive, closest to pin, closest to line, and the winning foursome.

Checks ($250 for one participant, $1,000 for a foursome) can be sent to Westport PBA Scholarship Fund, 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880. Questions? Call 203-803-0215, or email jlauria@westportct.gov.


Eleven Staples High School seniors have qualified as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

Congratulations to Emerson Briggs, Leigh Foran, Dania Hemdan, Peter Loranger, Ellen Ou, Surya Rao, Jameson Russell, Ella Tobben, Elizabeth Turner, Darren T Weng and Gabriel Weng.

Fewer than 1 percent of the over 1.5 million students who took the PSAT/NMSQT qualifying exam will compete for 7,140 National Merit scholarships, worth more than $28 million.

National Merit semifinalists (from left): Leigh Foran, Emerson Briggs, Elizabeth Turner, Peter Loranger, Dania Hemdan,  Jameson Russell, Surya Rao, Darren Weng, Gabriel Weng, Ellen Ou. Missing: Ella Tobben.


Controversy continues to dog Dave McCormick.

On Thursday, the former Bridgewater CEO announced his candidacy for the Pennsylvania US Senate seat held by Democrat Bob Casey.

The Republican — born and raised near Pittsburgh — laid out his bona fides as a “7th-generation Pennsylvanian.”

But he also maintains a home on Beachside Avenue. And, critics say, that’s where he spends most of his time.

On Monday, as he sought the endorse of Doug Mastriano — the losing gubernatorial nominee last fall, who had considered a Senate run himself — flight records show that a plane co-owned by McCormick flew from Bridgeport to Harrisburg at 8:28 a.m. It returned to Connecticut that afternoon.

Click here for the Politico story. (Hat tip: Allan Siegert)

David McCormick


Sorelle Gallery’s next exhibition, “A Million Possibilities,” features new works by Connecticut artist Sofie Swann. It opens Friday (September 29), with a reception no Saturday (September 30, 3 to 5 p.m.).

Born in Iran, Swann’s abstract paintings are centered around her emotional response to experiences and memories, particularly her struggle to find a place to call home after being forced to leave Iran and immigrate to the US. For more information, click here.

Artwork by Sofie Swann.


Jay Babina earned “06880” fame as the founder/curator/mastermind of the great, creative and very wide-ranging Westport Tech Museum.

Today he returns as a contributing photographer for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

Is there anything this teenager can’t do?!

(Photo/Jay Babina)


And finally … in honor of the debate over whether Dave McCormick really lives in Pennsylvania or Westport:

(Wherever you live, you know “06880” is your “home” for local journalism. Please support our work, by clicking here. Thank you!)



Roundup: Lomito, Shirah Sklar, North Avenue …

Lomito — Westport’s first-ever Peruvian restaurant — is open. It replaces the Chinese Takeout place (yes, that was it’s name) where Franklin Street meets Saugatuck Avenue.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

Lomito is bright, fresh, and the menu — including saltados (stir-fry), chaufas (fried rice), bowls and more — is mouth-watering. Click here to see.

Two of Lomito’s many dishes. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Welcome to Westport!


This will be a big weekend at Temple Shalom.

The Norwalk synagogue — which includes many Westporters — celebrates the installation of Rabbi Cantor Shirah Lipson Sklar to Senior Rabbi. She succeeds her father, Rabbi Cantor Mark Lipson, and is Temple Shalom’s first female spiritual leader.

Sklar — a Staples High School graduate — has served Temple Shalom as cantor since her ordination in 2005. At Staples she sang in the elite Orphenians under the direction of her mother, Alice Lipson.

She and her husband, Rabbi Cantor Dan Sklar, live in Westport with their 3 sons.

The installation takes place at Friday evening services (February 10, 7 p.m.). Special musical guests include the folk/Americana/bluegrass band Nefesh Mountain.

The celebration continue on Saturday (February 11, 5 p.m.), with a special wine and cheese reception, followed by a concert by Nefesh Mountain.

The Friday night installation service is free and open to the public (RSVP: 203- 866-0148). Tickets to Saturday’s Nefesh Mountain concert are $36 (children 12 and under free). Click here to purchase. (Hat tip: Martin Gitlin)

Rabbi Cantor Shirah Sklar


On Friday, “06880” posted Carl Swanson’s plea to drivers to slow down on North Avenue.

The next morning — 8 a.m. on Saturday — a college student driving an SUV southbound on that road plowed onto the sidewalk and obliterated 3 mailboxes anchored next to each other, just south of Cross Highway.

Neighbor Ed Paul notes: “The accident occurred about 50 yards from a stop sign. The car had to accelerate very quickly to cause such destruction.

North Avenue mailboxes before (courtesy of Google Earth) and afterward (photo/Ed Paul).

“North Avenue is frequently used by bikers, joggers, walkers with strollers, students, dog walkers and more, on the shoulders and sidewalk.

“If you’re out enjoying the day on one of our beautiful streets, don’t get so absorbed in your phone call, music or podcast to not be aware of what’s going on around you. Unfortunately, going out for a walk is not a guaranteed safe activity.”


On a more positive note: Site by site, citizens are cleaning up Westport.

The almost-weekly pick-ups — organized by RTM member Andrew Colabella, and open to everyone — continued this weekend, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Interested in helping? Email acolabellartm4@gmail.com.

Cleaning up on Imperial Avenue (from left): Diane Wildman, Mayo and Karin Smith, Julie Whamond, Alice Stratton, Rob Grodman. Not pictured: Tracy Carothers, Nancy Kail, Paul Conti. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)


Nile Rodgers has won 4 Grammy awards.

Our longtime (though soon-to-be-former) neighbor was on stage in Los Angeles again last night — but as a stand-in, to accept Beyoncé’s 29th.

The singer/songwriter had not yet arrived, 40 minutes into the event, when she was announced as the winner for Best R&B Song.

Her longtime collaborator, The-Dream, stepped in, and gave a brief speech that included the n-word (though it was censored by CBS).

Let Yahoo take it from there:

Fortunately, the legendary Nile Rodgers — a joint winner for “Cuff It,” due to his additional writing credit on the song — was on hand, and (host Trevor) Noah practically begged the renowned musician and producer to emerge from the stage wings and give a more eloquent speech. “Nile, please say something before we go. Please say something. The legend, ladies and gentlemen!”

While Rodgers presumably didn’t have any speech prepared, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winner was as articulate as ever. And the anecdote he shared demonstrated that he is always skilled when it comes to reacting in the moment, on the spot.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Patti Brill)


Native Westporter — and former owner of the Arrow and Red Barn restaurants — Virginia Pianka Nistico died Saturday at Bridgeport Hospital, following a brief illness. She was 95.

As an owner of 2 of Westport’s most popular restaurants, she dedicated her life to working with her family, children and grandchildren. She spending time with patrons, and the young employees who passed through over many years.

In her free time Virginia enjoyed vacationing in Florida, first in Hollywood and then Naples. having great times with her brother Ben.

She is survived by her children Frank Nistico, Thomas Nistico, Sr. (Joan), Louis Nistico (Dee), Pamela Nistico, Richard Nistico (Cindy), and daughter-in-law Sue Nistico; 17 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren. and many nieces and nephews.

Virginia was predeceased by her son John Nistico, brother Bernard Pianka, sister Philomena Bachman and daughter-in-law Janet Nistico.

The family will receive friends and family at Collins Funeral Home (92 East Avenue, Norwalk) on Wednesday (February 8, 4 to 7 p.m.). The funeral Mass will be held Thursday (February 9, 10 a.m., Church of the Assumption). Burial will follow at Assumption Greens Farms Cemetery.

Virginia Nistico


On Saturday — the coldest day of the year — Wendy Levy’s first indoor passionfruit flower bloomed.

Her photo is a very colorful and truly inspiring way to start our “Westport … Naturally” week!

(Photo/Wendy Levy)


And finally … in honor of Lomito, Westport’s newest restaurant, here is the only Peruvian song I know:

 (From the newest restaurants, to mentions of old favorites like the Arrow and Red Barn [see stories above], “06880” has Westport covered. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)


Roundup: Bad Bad Drivers, Burgers, Mandarin School …

Most of the day, I slide my bad/entitled parking photos near the end of “06880.”

More important info comes at the top. By the time you get to a photo of some self-centered numbskull taking up 3 spaces, hogging half a sidewalk or whatever, you’re ready for a diversion. Sure, they’re selfish, self-satisfied SOBs, but they’re not really hurting anyone.

Well, this cretin could have:

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Think about it.

This “person” — who somehow is licensed to drive a motor vehicle — ignored a very large “Do Not Enter” sign 100 yards or so back.

Then he (it was a young guy) drove past vehicles facing the other direction on both sides, plus at least one very large arrow. also pointing the other direction.

And then he walked away.

Words fail, at a time like this.

Except for one final thought: It’s a pretty shitty parallel parking job, too.


The Westport Library’s soaring, flexible and well-used indoor space is called the Trefz Forum.

Most people who enjoy the pyramid seating, giant screen and state-of-the-art sound system have no idea who Christian J. Trefz — the man for whom it’s named — is.

That will change on Saturday, July 9. His new memoir — “The Right Side of the Hamburger” — will be celebrated with a book launch at a private party. It’s available for sale at the Library the next day, and on Amazon.

In association with The Legacy Project USA — a Westport company specializing in documenting and writing life stories for people who want to preserve and tell their history — Trefz spent over a year working on his book.

It tells the tale of how he and his brother became successful. The son of German immigrants, Chris and Ernie grew up in New Haven. They learned important lessons about family closeness, hard work, and determination.

The brothers purchased their first McDonald’s franchise in 1964. Their empire now encompasses over 50 McDonald’s restaurants throughout Connecticut and New York.


In each issue, the bi-monthly print/digital Civilian Magazine profiles 10 or so influencers, in areas like sports, business, politics, fashion and pop culture.

Last year, local photographer Jenae Weinbrenner was assigned to a shoot at  Nile Rodgers’ Westport home.

With COVID raging, there were no agents, assistants or creative directors around. For an hour, Nile and Jenae talked about life, music, and their love for this town.

“As a photographer, you never get that kind of one-on-one time with a celebrity,” Jenae says. “This was special. I’m so grateful I got to experience it. He was the kindest person — and generous too.”

The other day, the publication retweeted the story. Jenae realized she had never shared it with her “06880” friends and neighbors.

Click here for the magazine (it’s behind a paywall).

Nile Rodgers (Photo/Jenae Weinbrenner for Civilian Magazine)


Happy Panda Mandarin School opened 12 years ago, in the basement of a Weston home.

It grew quickly, and relocated to Wilton.

Now it’s moved again: to 2nd floor space in Westport’s Nash’s Plaza (179 Post Road West).

Classes resume September 1: Chinese HSK (1-6 levels), Chinese Made Easy (1-4 levels), Writing and Homework Help.

For more information click here, email info@hpmandarinschool.org, or call 203-291-9228. (Hat tip: Felicia Catale)


One Chinese door opens, another closes:

Open Rice — the Post Road takeout place between the Sherwood Diner and Earth Animal — is shuttered.

Loyal customers are disappointed. Unfortunately, there must not have been enough of them.

Open Rice is closed.


Wheels2U Westport is expanding.

As of July 5, the Westport Transit District’s on-demand, group ride, door-to-train shuttle service will soon include from Hiawatha Lane to Saugatuck Shores in the westernmost area of Westport, and Westway Road and Parsell Lane in the east.

Now, virtually all of the town is covered.

Reverse commuters can also use the service to travel between the trains and their place of employment in Westport. 

Wheels2U can also be used to enjoy dinner at Saugatuck restaurants.

Riders using the Wheels2U Westport app request a pickup  between 5:45 and 10 a.m., and 4 and 9:30 p.m., for rides between the Westport or Greens Farms train platform and their front door. Pickups for trips to the stations should be requested 20 minutes before you would leave to drive there. The $2 fare is paid via the Wheels2U app.

For more information about Wheels2U, click here. To learn about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.

Wheels2U’s Saugatuck Shores expansion. Click on or hover over to enlarge.


Friends since middle school, Dixie Webb O’Brien, Jeff Ruden, Kim Hamer and John McCarthy are planning their Staples High School Class of 1982 reunion — with a twist.

In addition to getting together after 40 years (!), they wanted to give back to the town they still live in, and love.

Classmates are encouraged to donate to Staples Tuition Grants. Already, they’ve raised $2,000.

‘82 grads can reserve a spot for the August 6 event at Saugatuck Rowing Club, plus Friday and Sunday gatherings —  and/or make a donation to the class tuition grant — via email :dixiewebbobrien@gmail.com

Staples Class of ’82 co-chairs (clockwise from upper left): Jeff Ruden, Dixie Webb O’Brien, Kim Hamer, John McCarthy.


Longtime Westport resident Janet Bangser died earlier this month, at the age of (her family says) “don’t even.”

An only child born in 1928 in New York City to Jules Rutstein, a dentist, and Esther Klar Rutstein, assistant to the producer at Radio City Music Hall, she attended Horace Mann School for Girls, then earned a BA in English and American literature from Brown University in 1949.

A voracious reader, one of her first jobs was to write script synopses for MGM.

International travel was a dominant theme throughout Janet’s life; she made overseas trips from an early age. She and her husband Bill Bangser visited many countries on 6 continents, including several extended stays in Europe with their 4 children. Janet and Bill made lifelong friends around the world.

The family moved to Westport in 1961. When her children were grown Janet entered the travel industry, as an agent for Minute Man Travel. In 1978 she formed Pathfinder’s Travel, a full-service agency in Westport. For the next 40 years, Janet and her staff used first-hand knowledge of travel destinations to serve corporate and vacation travelers. Janet remained active in the business well into her ninth decade. She and Bill continued their frequent travels, often with Westport friends.

In addition to her business and motherhood, Janet served as president of the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.

Janet was predeceased by Bill, her husband of 67 years. She is survived by her children: Andrew (Barbara) of Westport; Paul (Liz) of Bethesda, Maryland.; Jill (Jeff) Boynton of Newington, New Hampshire. and Dan (Jennifer) Bangser of Norwalk; 8 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren, and her sister-in-law Rita Bangser of Somers, New York.

Janet’s family says, “we will forever miss the devoted matriarch of our family, her intellect, her love of travel (and good wine!), her cooking, her eternally positive outlook, and her entrepreneurial spirit.”

Burial was private. All are welcome at a memorial service on July 23 (10 a.m., Westport Library). In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Westport Library.

Janet Bangser


Most “Westport … Naturally” photos are striking — but straightforward.

This one asks a question: Can you spot the bee?

Thanks for this great submission go to 15-year-old Benji Porosoff!

(Photo/Benji Porosoff)


And finally … in honor of the top story above:






Nile Rodgers Leaving The Westport Family

Nile Rodgers has been a good Westport neighbor.

The Chic front man/3-time Grammy Award-winning/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee/ “We Are Family” songwriter-producer has played at the Levitt Pavilion, helped out the Library, and contributed to the Saugatuck Shores vibe.

But he’s joining Ashford & Simpson, Neil Sedaka and Johnny Winter — among others — on the list of former Westport music royalty.

His Bermuda Lagoon home is on the market for $5.25 million. The price does not include his recording studio.

Nile Rodgers’ house. (Photo/Stephanie Loda for Greenwich Photography)

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The roughly half-acre property has about 90 feet of waterfront on the Bermuda Lagoon off Long Island Sound, Mr. Rodgers said. He bought the house in 1980 for $269,000, he said, because it offered a dock that he could use for boating.

Nile Rodgers’ house features water views from everywhere. (Photo/Stephanie Loda for Greenwich Photography)

Built in 1953, the house has an indoor pool, a library, a dining room and a great room with vaulted ceilings and a fireplace…

The recording studio, where Mr. Rodgers said he has hosted artists including Diana Ross, Slash, Blondie and Mick Jagger, has an outdoor terrace overlooking the lagoon. The studio, which was once an additional bedroom, is outfitted with audio equipment and a vocal recording booth, which isn’t included in the sale. It also has a Sub-Zero refrigerator and wet bar….

Nile Rodgers will be taking his gold and platinum records with him. (Photo/Stephanie Loda for Greenwich Photography)

He said he is selling the property because he plans to spend more time at his home in Turks and Caicos; he also has homes in New York City and Florida. He said he plans to donate proceeds from the sale of the house to his “We Are Family” foundation, which promotes cultural diversity and mentors youth.

Click here for the full story (and some awesome photos). (Hat tip: Jeff Jacobs)

Nile Rodgers (Photo courtesy of Daily Mail)

Roundup: Nile Rodgers, David Hidalgo, Bob Dole …


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)


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)


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.


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.


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


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


“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.


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)


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

(Photo/Jill Grayson)


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)


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:


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: